May 092016
 May 9, 2016  Posted by at 6:52 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  15 Responses »

NPC “Melvin Jones, 5, who pierced heart with scissors” Washington DC 1925

Well, I guess I’m going to have to write this some time, even if I don’t really like to. Here goes. I haven’t written an original article in 8 weeks or so now, and there’s a reason for that. That is, two days after I flew from Athens to Amsterdam mid-March, I got myself a -for lack of a better term- nasty injury. And I have no idea where it came from. Crampy seat on the plane? There’s a link to earlier hip issues, I know that, but this was (is) severe.

What happened was the IT (ilio-tibial) band in my left leg (ligament on outside of thigh, runs down from hip to shin/ankle) seized up pretty much entirely; muscle contraction squared -or cubed-. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand up straight any longer, nor could I walk other than in a hunched Quasimodo way and just for a few feet, and because when muscles contract in this fashion they get extremely painful, 24/7, lying down hurt a lot too, and I therefore basically didn’t sleep for weeks, other than occasional bouts of 1 hour and change brought on by utter exhaustion, and from which excruciating pain would wake me. I must have lost 150 hours of sleep in the first month, easily.

At times I was thinking that this was hell, but hey, I had a room to be in that was mine, a couch to site or lie down on, and I could have my groceries delivered and pay for them. As you will know if you’ve read me over the past year, I met a lot of people who don’t have these things. And who despite that, or maybe because of that -who knows, really- work their behinds off every day to make sure other people are taken of. More about that in a bit.

The family doctor had no idea what pain I was talking about and prescribed a useless generic painkiller (Dyclofenac). I then, 3 weeks in, focused on a treatment that my friend Steve Keen, the famed Australian economist and another fitness buff, had been talking about when we met earlier this year in Athens and had dinner with Yanis Varoufakis: myo-fascial release. And I found a physio practice that advertized it.

Then it took these people, in turn, over a week to figure out that the manual massage part of this treatment was of no use, but after that they started to do what I came looking for: dry needling, meant to ‘blow up’ the trigger points in the muscle. That helps. So yes, economists ARE good for something.

I can walk now, though it’s all far from perfect, and it’ll take more treatment. I can walk short distances but that’s it and I’m still exhausted most of the day and need to sleep a few hours in the afternoon. It’ll take treatment, and it’ll take time too.

All in all, that’s what kept me from writing. You can’t do that, or I can’t, when constantly in pain and/or fatigued. It kills the focus. I haven’t missed one day of doing a Debt Rattle news overview, but that was all I could do and had the energy for.

Next thing is, I promised to be back in Athens later this week, and I intend to go; the rent for our friend Konstantinos (Kostas) Polychronopoulos’ Social Kitchen nerve center is due the 15th, and I said I’d pay that with your Automatic Earth for Athens Fund donations -like I did in February-. I could perhaps have found another way to arrange for it to be paid, but the timing feels good now.

Because we need to figure out where we’re going with this, with the involvement of The Automatic Earth and its readers. To be specific: the first AE for Athens Fund I started about a year ago, when things were so hugely different from what they are now, and from which I expected to get just a few hundred dollars, today adds up -this is all in euros, worth $1.14 today- to €10,204. Since I donated €5,000 of that, €5,204 remains.

The second fund, started in December specifically for Kostas’ Social Kitchen when I saw how overwhelmed they had become with the refugee flows on top of their aim to feed Greece’s poor, is at €11,539. I gave Kostas €9,550 of that to date, so it’ll all be gone with the €2054 in rent for May, June, July that will be paid this week.

Converted -back- to US dollars, the currency 97% or so of Automatic Earth donations use, that means you crazy folk donated over $25,000 for Greece in a year’s time. Once again, I would never have expected to. And I’m very grateful, as is Kostas, and as are the large groups of volunteers he works with, and the people we all feed.

So, you know, the question is: what are we going to do from here on in? I will of course ask you to donate more, we are one-on-one feeding people here who go hungry otherwise. And looking after them in other ways. It doesn’t get much more direct than that.

But I realize you are not an endless source of funds. So, given how much you’re already given, and given the increase in need that exists in Greece, we’d have to find another, a wider approach. And to be honest, I don’t know what that should be, or what it would look like.

You see, a year ago, before the main refugee stream came knocking, there was very little involvement of NGOs in the country. Not on the islands, and not in Athens or Saloniki. That has changed beyond recognition since. And it’s the NGOs that are well-funded with western taxpayer money and -donations, so once they come in, they flex their muscles. Often not a great development.

They think they know what to do, while first talking with locals like Kostas would make sure their funds are spent much more efficiently. An example I mentioned before is an NGO that ‘peddled’ meals on Lesbos (Mytilini) late last year for which they received €7 from headquarters, while Kostas makes meals for 50 cents.

But I don’t want to delve into negative things, had plenty of that lately. You can still donate money to the Social Kitchen, which prepares some 10,000 meals a day (!), by using the Paypal widget in the top left corner of, and donating a number that ends in either $0.99 or $0.37. Not a penny will not go to helping those who need it most. The Social Kitchen is run entirely by volunteers, nobody gets paid for the work.

You can also of course always donate to The Automatic Earth itself, which needs to remain funded too, or none of these activities would be possible.

So you’re up to date, I have screwed up the guts to negotiate an airport, and we’ll talk again once I get to Athens. And we’ll take it from there.

The EU may still dump Greece, though that won’t happen until July when it has a huge debt to pay to the ECB and the Brexit referendum is conveniently in the past, but Erdogan and Turkey can go full-tard bonkers at any moment in time and drop more refugees on Greece than ever before.

Summer is coming.