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Prosecutors drop case against men caught taking food from Iceland bins | UK news | theguardian.com

Prosecutors drop case against men caught taking food from Iceland bins | UK news | theguardian.com.

Paul May outside Iceland

Paul May, one of three men caught taking cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms and Mr Kipling cakes from bins outside Iceland. Photograph: Martin Godwin

Three men caught taking discarded food from bins outside an Iceland store will not now be prosecuted after an explosion of criticism over the decision to bring charges against them, including from the company’s chief executive.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it would drop its case despite having previously said there was “significant public interest” in prosecuting the men. They were caught last year taking tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese and Mr Kipling cakes from the dustbins behind a branch of the high-street retailer.

Baljit Ubhey, the chief crown prosecutor for the CPS in London, said: “This case has been reviewed by a senior lawyer and it has been decided that a prosecution is not required in the public interest.”

The Guardian revealed on Tuesday that Paul May, Jason Chan and William James had been charged under the 1824 Vagrancy Act, after being discovered in “an enclosed area, namely Iceland, for an unlawful purpose, namely stealing food”.

On Wednesday, Malcolm Walker, the chief executive of Iceland,contacted the CPS to request that the case be dropped, stating that the company had not sought a prosecution.

The retailer took rapid steps to distance itself from the case, attempting to offset a damaging public relations storm as news of the prosecution triggered widespread criticism. Several online petitions were launched, calling on the CPS to reconsider its decision to prosecute.

Paul May, Jason Chan and William James, all residents of a squat in north London, were arrested on 25 October, just before midnight, after a member of the public called the police to report three men scaling a wall at the back of Iceland in Kentish Town. Police arrested the men as they left the area with a holdall and trolley containing food. The total value of the items taken from the bins allegedly amounted to £33.

May, 35, a freelance web designer, said he was relieved the case had been dropped. He said it was a ridiculous charge, and “crazy” to think that prosecution was in the public interest.

He said he had taken the food because he needed it to eat, and did not consider that he had done anything illegal or dishonest in removing food destined for landfill from a skip.

“Did we have dishonest intent when we jumped into the yard at Iceland to retrieve what was in the bins? No, we didn’t,” he said. “A dishonest action would be wandering into a store and filling your pockets with what is on the shelves. We didn’t do that.”

May said he was not ashamed of recovering binned food, to share, cook and eat with his housemates.

“It doesn’t feel like we are doing something criminal. We are taking food that they have thrown away so it can be eaten by people who appreciate it. I think it is more morally questionable that they are throwing away that much usable food than that people are diving in and recovering it. In some ways I am proud of what we do.”

Walker said his initial reaction to news of the prosecution had been “one of total bemusement”. Writing in the Guardian, he said: “Our store had not called the police, let alone asked for those concerned to be prosecuted. Waste food in our bins that cannot be sold is clearly of minimal value to us.”

He added: “We acted as soon as we could to ask the police and CPS to drop the case.”

The case has prompted new focus on the phenomenon of “skipping” – taking discarded supermarket waste to cook and eat – and reopened the debate over how much supermarket food is still discarded.

But although some supermarkets here are beginning to offer their unused stock to food banks, May says the quantity still found discarded in bins suggests there is much more that could be used constructively.

Explaining the decision to drop the case, Ubhey said: “In reconsidering this case, we have had particular regard to the seriousness of the alleged offence and the level of harm done. Both of these factors weigh against a prosecution. Additionally, further representations received today from Iceland Foods have affected our assessment of the public interest in prosecuting.”

“We hope this demonstrates our willingness to review decisions and take appropriate and swift action when necessary. The Crown Prosecution Service is committed to bringing the right charges to court when – and only when – it is proper to do so.”

The case was launched as attitudes towards excessive supermarket waste begin to harden. In the US, entrepreneurs are working on new models for recycling unsold produce.

May, who has regularly taken food from skips, argued that he has the right to take food which is being thrown away. “More and more people are using food banks than ever before but supermarkets are throwing away huge amounts of food, which will end up in landfill,” he said. “If supermarkets were giving as much as they could away, then their bins would be empty, or full of cardboard boxes and broken yoghurt pots – but they’re not. You’d be amazed at what you find.”

He and other residents at the squat regularly find large quantities of frozen chicken breasts. Last week they had quail. Most of the food May collects when he goes skipping has crossed the marked sell-by date, but is still edible.

The residents of the squat have a kitty where people contribute to basic necessities like teabags and milk, but the bulk of what residents eat comes from skips, May said.

May says he is squatting because he cannot afford to rent in London, and the alternative would be to move out of the city, making it hard to see his six-year-old son. Removing food from skips allows him to eat more healthily than he would if he was buying food on a low income, he claims. “If I relied on the little I have every day, I would eat very badly.”

How Central Banking Really Works – Fed Anniversary Redux | Zero Hedge

How Central Banking Really Works – Fed Anniversary Redux | Zero Hedge.

Submitted by Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Here’s a question– if you’re in the Land of the Free, do you think those green pieces of paper in your wallet are dollars?

They’re not. A US dollar was defined by the Coinage Act of 1792 as 416 grains of standard silver.

No, those green pieces of paper are Federal Reserve notes. “Notes” in this case meaning liabilities to the central bank of the United States.

That makes you, me, and anyone else holding those green pieces of paper essentially creditors of the Federal Reserve, whether we signed up for it or not.

The Fed is theoretically like any other business. On one side of its balance sheet, it has assets. On the other side, it has liabilities.

The Fed is unique, though, in that its liabilities– namely Federal Reserve Notes– are passed off as money in the Land of the Free.

And they have a legal monopoly in this money business. Just ask Bernard von NotHaus, the founder of Liberty Dollar who was labeled a domestic terrorist and convicted for minting silver coins to be used as a competing money.

Moreover, the Fed has the ability to increase its liabilities at will. Mr. Bernanke can conjure additional Federal Reserve notes out of thin air and pump them into the system.

And at this point, thanks to a long-standing policy of wanton money printing, the Fed has more liabilities than ever before in its history. By an enormous margin.

This precarious balance sheet is dangerous, because if the Fed goes bust, everyone loses.

Is it even possible for a central bank to go bust? Definitely. Zimbabwe and Tajikistan are infamous examples.

And most recently it happened in Iceland. The banking system there collapsed from being so highly leveraged, and Iceland’s central bank suffered tremendous losses.

The end result was insolvency, and the central bank’s liabilities, i.e. the Icelandic kronor, went into freefall, losing 60% against the dollar and euro in a matter of days.

So yes, it does happen. And the consequences are devastating.

But how likely is it that the Fed could go bust?

In its most recently published balance sheet, the Fed listed assets valued at $3.5 trillion.

Most of this is US Treasuries and ‘agency’ debt securities. You probably remember those– the toxic mortgage debt that blew up a few years ago like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Not exactly low risk.

Meanwhile, the Fed has become one of the biggest creditors of the United States government… which has managed to accumulate more debt than any government in the history of the world.

Of course, the only way the US government can pay interest to the Fed is by going into even more debt (which the Fed then has to buy).

Every time this happens, the Fed’s already razor-thin capital gets smaller and smaller, and the Fed’s balance sheet becomes riskier and riskier.

In fact, the Fed’s capital ratio (1.53%) is lower than Lehman Brothers when they went bankrupt in 2008.

But what happens if the Fed becomes insolvent?

In the case of Iceland, the government bailed out its central bank.

Iceland’s government went from being essentially debt free to having debts in excess of 100% of the country’s GDP, just to bail out the bank.

But the US, Japan, and Europe are already too indebted to bail out their central banks. An insolvent government cannot bail out an insolvent central bank.

The IMF is not an option either. The US, EU, Japan, etc. make up roughly half of the IMF capital quota– these are the countries who fund the IMF, not the other way around.

There really is no backstop for the Fed. The buck, so to speak, stops here. And with a capital ratio of just 1.53%, the Fed’s balance sheet is already in precarious financial condition.

Given that the Fed’s assets are so closely tied to the finances of the US government, the outlook should concern independent, thinking people.

If they go bust, the value of Federal Reserve notes (i.e. ‘dollars’) is going to plummet… along with the paper wealth of anyone holding them.

 

Iceland PM Warns Nation’s FX Shortfall “Is Matter Of Huge Concern” | Zero Hedge

Iceland PM Warns Nation’s FX Shortfall “Is Matter Of Huge Concern” | Zero Hedge. (FULL ARTICLE)

Just a few weeks ago, the Icelandic government started threatening to use the European ‘template’ of removing guarantees on large deposits (though maintaining its capital controls) indirectly pressuring the wealthy to spend (for fear of haircuts). However, the capital controls have backfired as Bloomberg notes, Iceland’s private sector is running out of cash to repay its foreign currency debt, according to the nation’s central bank. The Prime Minister has said that the FX shortfall – exacerbated by his own policy restricting the selling of Krona – is “a matter of huge concern.” The government’s biggest challenge is to allow capital to flow freely without triggering a krona sell-off that would cause Iceland’s foreign debt to spike and undermine the nation’s economic recovery.

The yield on Iceland’s 5.875 percent dollar $1 billion bond due May 2022 has soared this year to as high as 5.71 percent last month from a low in May of 3.81 percent. Its spread to the U.S. Treasury curve widened to around 280 basis points yesterday from a May 28 low of around 180 basis points…

 

Wow. This story about Iceland’s “recovery” is a complete lie.

Wow. This story about Iceland’s “recovery” is a complete lie..

 

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