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Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Illinois pensions
on: May 20, 2016, 07:54:58 PM
Illinois State Workers, Highest Paid in Nation, Demand 11.5 to 29% Hikes
POSTED BY MISHGEA | May 18, 2016 6:28:10 | ECONOMICS
≈ 40 COMMENTS
Illinois state workers, are the highest paid in the nation. Yet, despite the fact that Illinois is for all practical purposes insolvent, the AFSCME union demands four-year raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, overtime after 37.5 hours of work per week, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health care coverage.
AFSCME workers already get platinum healthcare benefits that would make nearly everyone in the country green with envy.
This is a guest post from Ted Dabrowski at the Illinois Policy Institute, of which I am a senior fellow.
For years, Illinois taxpayers haven’t been represented at the bargaining table between Illinois’ largest government union and the state. Illinois’ former governors cared more about appeasing the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees than protecting the taxpayers the governors were supposed to represent. That’s how AFSCME workers have become some the highest-compensated state workers in the nation.
Now the union is working overtime to remove Gov. Bruce Rauner – who actually represents taxpayers’ interests – from labor contract negotiations. The union supports House Bill 580, which would strip the governor of his ability to negotiate. AFSCME wants the current contract dealings turned over to unelected arbitrators who are likelier to decide in the union’s favor.
AFSCME wants to remove the governor from contract negotiations because union officials know Rauner will not agree to outrageous demands. Union leaders are demanding $3 billion in additional salary and benefits for union members in a new contract. They’re seeking four-year raises ranging from 11.5 to 29 percent, overtime after 37.5 hours of work per week, five weeks of vacation and enhanced health care coverage. Those additional demands would come on top of the costly benefits that AFSCME workers already receive.
Here are four facts about state-worker compensation the union doesn’t want taxpayers to know:
1. Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the country
Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the country when adjusted for cost of living. Illinois pays its state workers more than $59,000 a year, far more than its neighbors and nearly $10,000 more than the national average. Moreover, state AFSCME workers have received salary increases not matched in Illinois’ private sector. Median AFSCME worker salaries increased more than 40 percent from 2005 to 2014, reaching more than $62,800. During that same period, median private-sector earnings in Illinois remained virtually flat.
2. AFSCME workers receive Cadillac health care benefits
In addition to paying state workers the highest salaries in the nation, Illinois taxpayers also subsidize a majority of AFSCME workers’ Cadillac health care benefits. The average AFSCME worker receives the ObamaCare equivalent of platinum-level benefits, but only pays the equivalent of bronze-level insurance premiums. That forces a vast share of AFSCME workers’ health care costs onto state taxpayers. AFSCME workers pay for just 23 percent of their health care costs, or $4,452 a year. State taxpayers pay the remaining 77 percent, or an average of $14,880 per worker.
3. Most state workers receive free retiree health insurance
The state also subsidizes 100 percent of the health insurance costs for state retirees who spent 20 or more years working for the state. Such a benefit is almost unheard of in the private sector. This benefit costs taxpayers $200,000 to $500,000 per state retiree. An ordinary worker in the private sector thus would need to have $200,000 to $500,000 in the bank before retirement to purchase the insurance most retired state workers get for free.
4. Career state retirees on average receive $1.6 million in pension benefits
Thanks to unrealistic pension rules, career state workers – meaning those who work 30 or more years – will average $1.6 million in benefits over the course of their retirements. That’s on top of Social Security benefits, which nearly all state workers receive. In addition, over half of state workers end up retiring in their 50s.
It’s not fair that Illinois residents, struggling with stagnant incomes in one of the nation’s weakest economies, continue to subsidize AFSCME benefits to such an extent. Many other unions that contract with the state have recognized that taxpayers can’t afford higher taxes to fund even greater pay and benefits for state workers. Officials from more than 17 unions, including the Teamsters, understood the depth of Illinois’ fiscal crisis and agreed to affordable contracts with the state.
AFSCME, which represents a mere 0.5 percent of Illinois’ total labor force (35,000 state workers out of a total 6.5 million workers), is putting undue pressure on the state and its finances. The General Assembly needs to allow the governor’s veto of HB 580 to stand. Instead of increasing benefits as AFSCME has demanded, the state should work to bring its employees’ total compensation more in line with what the private sector can afford.
Vice President of Policy
Question of Fairness
The AFSCME seeks “fairness”.
I wholeheartedly agree. Here is my eight-point proposal.
1. Cut AFSCME salaries an average of 40%
2. Make AFSCME employees contribute 50% to health care plans.
3. Drop AFSCME retiree health benefits entirely. Put them on Medicare.
4. Put caps on pension pay.
5. Kill defined benefit pension plans entirely for new hires.
6. Pass right-to-work legislation.
7. Allow municipalities to go bankrupt.
8. Kill all prevailing wage laws,
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Saudi liquidity crisis?
on: May 20, 2016, 07:49:42 PM
POSTED BY MISHGEA | May 18, 2016 11:33:21 | ECONOMICS
≈ 28 COMMENTS
Liquidity Crunch or Worse
Saudi Arabia burnt through its reserves faster than anyone thought.
In signs of a huge liquidity crunch, at best, the country has delayed paying contractors and now considers paying them in IOUs and tradable bonds.
In retrospect, the Saudi threat to dump US assets looks more ridiculous than ever.
Please consider Saudi Arabia Considers Paying Contractors With IOUs.
Saudi Arabia has told banks in the country that it is considering giving contractors IOUs to settle some outstanding bills, according to people with knowledge of the discussions. A projected budget deficit this year is prompting the government to weigh alternatives to limit spending. Contractors would receive bond-like instruments to cover the amount they are owed by the state which they could hold until maturity or sell on to banks, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private.
Contractors have received some payments from the government in cash and the rest could come in “I-owe-you” notes, the people said.
The government started delaying payments last year to prevent the budget deficit from exceeding $100 billion after the oil slump.
Beyond a Liquidity Crisis
Deficits don’t shrink if you delay paying the bills. Deficits arose because more money was spent than collected. On May 17, the Senate Passed a Bill Allowing 911 Victims to Sue Saudi Arabia. Obama threatens a veto. Meanwhile, Saudi threatens to dump $750 billion in U.S. securities and other American assets if the bill becomes law.
Does Saudi Arabia even have $750 billion. Color me skeptical.
Saudi Arabia’s bluff that it would sell US assets if the Obama signed the bill seems more ridiculous than ever.
For discussion of Saudi involvement in 911 and the alleged dumping threat please see Understanding the Saudi, Chinese “Economic Nuclear War” Threat; Saudi 911 Round-Up.
For discussion of Saudi Treasury holdings, please see Treasury Department Finally Discloses Saudi Treasury Holdings – Incorrectly?
There is no “nuclear” economic threat by Saudi Arabia or China as some have proclaimed.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: The next phase of the Jihadi threat
on: May 20, 2016, 11:28:07 AM
Although Islamic State-related attacks in Saudi Arabia have increased over the past year, strikes against hard targets still appear to be out of reach.
For al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the end of a more than one-year unofficial truce with the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen puts Saudi targets back in the crosshairs.
Saudi authorities may struggle to maintain control of the jihadist threat as Islamic State fighters return from Syria and Iraq with more advanced skills.
Jihadism has deep roots in Saudi Arabia, the second-largest source of foreign militants in Iraq and Syria since the Syrian civil war began in 2011. Since the mid-2000s, Saudi security forces have contained the jihadist threat in the kingdom, aware of the economic and security dangers it could pose if left unchecked. But in the past year, Islamic State activity in Saudi Arabia — and a recent series of raids against alleged militants — has raised fears that the threat may be growing beyond authorities' control.
Saudi Jihadism: A Chronology
The jihadist threat in Saudi Arabia is nothing new. In mid-2002, al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of attacks in the country against both foreigners and the Saudi government. Saudi authorities eventually dismantled the group, forcing its members to flee the country. Many relocated to Yemen, where they helped to found al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
Aside from a failed 2006 assault on the Abqaiq oil collection and processing facility, an amateurish attack in 2007 that killed three French citizens, and a foiled assassination attempt against Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in 2009, Saudi Arabia has been eerily quiet. But the calm was shattered in 2015 when militants associated with the Islamic State began bombing mosques in Saudi Arabia's restive Eastern Province in an effort to inflame sectarian tensions in the kingdom.
Before long, the attacks spread beyond Eastern Province and Shiite targets. After a series of raids in Taif in early July 2015, Saudi officials stopped a man wearing a suicide vest at a roadblock in Riyadh on July 16. To avoid capture, the man detonated his device, setting off a government crackdown that led to the arrest of over 400 alleged Islamic State supporters within two days.
The following month, a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a mosque in Abha, a city in western Saudi Arabia. The attack killed 15 worshippers, including 10 members of a special Saudi state security unit, and wounded many others. Since then, three other attacks against Shiite mosques in Eastern Province have occurred, along with a handful of small bombings in Riyadh and several assassinations of police and security officers. In addition, a number of raids against Islamic State members have been conducted in Riyadh, Dammam and Asir.
A raid outside Mecca on May 5 sparked a firefight that left four Islamic State fighters dead. Saudi security forces fatally shot two of them — one of whom had been named a suspect in the Abha mosque bombing — and the remaining two detonated suicide bombs to avoid capture. The same day, two other Islamic State members were allegedly arrested in Jeddah. Three days later, two gunmen killed a security officer who thwarted their attempted attack on a police station outside Taif.
A New Generation
These attacks differ from al Qaeda's operations in the early 2000s, which targeted foreigners and employed large vehicle bombs. Al Qaeda's Saudi branch understood the importance of expatriates to the Saudi economy and sought to cripple it by driving them and their families out of the country. Al Qaeda's campaign included assassinations, armed assaults on expatriate housing compounds and even an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah. In April 2004, the U.S. Department of State issued a travel warning, advising U.S. citizens to defer travel to the country, and ordered all nonessential diplomatic and consular staff to leave Saudi Arabia.
The threat environment could change even more as Islamic State fighters return from Iraq and Syria, bringing with them experience gained on the battlefield. Like the previous generation of al Qaeda operatives in the kingdom, the Islamic State fighters could use their honed skills to conduct more complex and strategic attacks. Both groups have a history of attacking tourist attractions in Egypt and Tunisia to undermine those nations' economies. A more sophisticated Islamic State campaign might echo previous al Qaeda initiatives, targeting expatriates to impair the Saudi economy.
Don't Forget al Qaeda
In addition to the growing Islamic State menace, Saudi Arabia faces a renewed threat from AQAP. Following the March 2015 Saudi-led intervention in Yemen's civil war, al Qaeda and the Saudi coalition reached an unofficial truce: The Saudi coalition would refrain from attacking the group in exchange for the jihadists' cooperation in fighting Houthi forces and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. AQAP benefited greatly from this arrangement, seizing the opportunity afforded by the chaos to snatch up large quantities of money, weapons and manpower while it controlled Mukalla. Despite losing several key leaders to U.S. airstrikes, the group is now arguably stronger in terms of men and resources than it has ever been.
But the truce fell apart on April 25. Coalition forces entered Mukalla after AQAP withdrew to avoid heavy casualties. As a result, the group will likely begin to attack coalition forces. Furthermore, it could draw on its increased might to relaunch efforts to export terrorism to Saudi Arabia. Since Saudis have always constituted an important component of AQAP, the group could try to use its ties in the kingdom to facilitate new attacks.
Despite the surge in jihadist activity in Saudi Arabia over the past year, there is currently no sign that Saudi authorities will lose control of the threat. Nonetheless, potential targets in the kingdom must practice heightened awareness as they look for signs of change in the jihadist threat, such as attacks on oil infrastructure or expatriates, the use of larger and more sophisticated explosive devices, or increased surveillance on possible attack sites.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR
on: May 19, 2016, 01:05:14 PM
This caught my attention:
"If the seeds of today’s Middle Eastern troubles were sown in the 1914-18 period, they do not come from supposedly artificial borders drawn by imperial edict, of which Sykes-Picot was a part of middling significance. They come instead from the attempted imposition of the Western concept of the secular, Weberian territorial state onto a part of the world where no precedent for such a form existed. The motive was, at least to some degree, benign—to make this part of the world more modern, more “progressive” in the language of the day. The result, however, was the creation ultimately of a series of weak independent states, each with a different but not, historically speaking, a very long half-life. Their decay is now upon us at a time when the stresses felt by all states have increased markedly. Not surprisingly, the weakest ones turn to dust first."
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Stratfor: War in Space
on: May 18, 2016, 10:48:36 AM
Avoiding a War in Space
May 17, 2016 | 08:10 GMT Print
An illustration shows the many objects being tracked in low Earth orbit. (European Space Agency)
By Omar Lamrani
Space is becoming more congested, contested and competitive. Since the Soviet Union put the first satellite, Sputnik I, into space in 1957, no nation has deliberately destroyed another's satellite in orbit. But there is a growing possibility that battles may soon be waged in space.
Although the militarization of space started long ago, a number of technological developments and tests over the past decade show that the race toward its weaponization is accelerating. Driven by Washington's dominance of and strategic dependence on space, U.S. rivals are working to develop and deploy anti-satellite weapons (widely known as ASATs). The technology, which began to be developed during the Cold War, has become an area of intense competition for the world's most capable militaries over the past decade.
For the United States, being the leader in military space technologies provides immense advantages. At the same time, its outsize reliance on those technologies entails risks. The current unequal dependence on space, the United States fears, could give adversaries incentive to attack its infrastructure in orbit. Washington is therefore pushing to bolster its capabilities and is preparing for the possibility that a future conflict could escalate into space. As the militarized space race continues, the United States will stay focused on deterrence. A war in space would be devastating to all, and preventing it, rather than finding ways to fight it, will likely remain the goal.
An Unequal Dependence
Washington's dependence on space infrastructure reflects the United States' dominance in space. The tyranny of time and distance inherently hinders the United States' ability to deploy its military across the globe. But the space domain effectively helps the country to overcome the limitations, allowing for enhanced force projection. As a result, the U.S. military relies heavily on its orbital assets for navigation, intelligence collection, precision targeting, communication, early warning and several other crucial activities.
The great advantages that space assets afford the United States have not gone unnoticed by its potential rivals. Though China and Russia, for instance, also rely on space, they are less dependent on their space assets than the United States is. First, neither nation has as much in orbit. In addition, because both put greater focus on their immediate geographic regions, they can use more conventional tools to achieve their objectives. For instance, Beijing, by virtue of geographic proximity, could rely on its ground-based radars and sensors in a conflict in the Taiwan Strait. The United States, on the other hand, would have to lean on its satellites to support a response in the same area.
Despite the United States' superior ability to strike at enemy space constellations — groups of similar kinds of satellites — competitors may determine that the resulting loss of space access would be worthwhile if they could severely degrade U.S. space access. And while the United States is the most proficient nation in space-based warfare, there are limits to its abilities. Satellites in orbit follow predictable movements, have restricted maneuverability and are difficult to defend from an attack.
There is little doubt that a full kinetic strike on U.S. satellites, which would inflict physical damage, would invite a devastating response. But tactics designed to degrade the satellites' abilities, rather than to destroy their hardware, could be deemed less escalatory and therefore perhaps worth the risk. These include jamming signals, hacking operational software and dazzling (temporarily blinding) or permanently disabling sensors. Calculating the risk of nonkinetic strikes, which would create little physical damage and could even be reversed, a potential foe would take into account the United States' hesitance to escalate a conflict in space, given its heavy dependence on orbital technology.
If the United States wants to preserve its primacy in the face of increasing threats to its strength in space, Washington will need to invest in strategies to deter attacks on its orbital assets. The first step in strengthening space deterrence is to ensure proper attribution: The United States cannot hold its enemies accountable for attacks if it does not know who initiated them. But the vastness of space, along with the difficulty of obtaining physical evidence from attacked satellites, can make responsibility hard to prove.
To that end, the United States is investing in a second-generation surveillance system, known as Space Fence, to track satellites and orbital debris. Slated to begin operating in 2018, Space Fence uses ground-based radars that give it 10 times the detection capability of its predecessor, the Air Force Space Surveillance System. In addition, the United States has been working with a classified satellite defense technology called the Self-Awareness Space Situational Awareness system, which reportedly will be able to pinpoint the source of a laser fired at a satellite.
Redundancy and shielding can also deter limited attacks against satellites. The innate redundancy of large satellite constellations could make attacking them too risky; such an assault would fail to significantly impair U.S. space control while still inviting retaliation. Meanwhile, more widespread use of resistant antenna designs, filters, surge arresters and fiber-optic components, which are less vulnerable to attack, is already being explored to further shield satellites from jamming, dazzling and blinding.
Finally, the United States can work alongside its global partners and allies to convey the idea that a full-blown battle that would destroy orbiting satellites would be bad for all of humanity. Reinforcing this message and openly tying it to a powerful U.S. response could further bolster deterrence.
Preventing a War in Space
While the United States works to discourage hostilities in space, in no small part to ensure its enduring advantage there, Washington is also taking more steps to plan for the contingency of a war in space. The Department of Defense has nominated the secretary of the U.S. Air Force as the initiative's principal adviser, tasked with coordinating space-related efforts across the military. Late last year, the United States also established the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center at Colorado's Schriever Air Force Base. The center facilitates information sharing across the national security space enterprise and has already run a number of wargame scenarios to simulate conflict in orbit.
Furthermore, the Pentagon has added $5 billion to its space programs budget in 2016, pushing the total to about $27 billion. The budget provides for spending on technologies and tactics that can help the United States mitigate and recover from a space attack. One effort, spearheaded by the Operationally Responsive Space Office, aims to develop small satellites and associated launch systems that can be built and deployed quickly and cheaply. (For the most part, the current U.S. fleet consists of large, sophisticated and expensive satellites, some of which cost billions of dollars and take years to construct.)
As part of this endeavor, the office has directed the development of a standardized but modular satellite chassis that allows for multiple payload variations. The result is increased flexibility, as well as lower costs and quicker turnaround in production. Developing a less expensive and more efficient way to launch replacements for destroyed or disabled systems is the next step. With that in mind, the Operationally Responsive Space Office is funding the development of the Spaceborne Payload Assist Rocket-Kauai (SPARK) launch system, designed to send miniaturized satellites into low-Earth and sun-synchronous orbits. In its efforts to rapidly launch swarms of miniaturized satellites on the cheap, the U.S. military is also looking to leverage the private sector. Companies such as Virgin Galactic (with the LauncherOne) and the Rocket Lab (with the Electron Vehicle) have expressed keen interest in the initiative.
The small satellite revolution promises the speedy replacement of disabled satellites in the event of attack — theoretically securing the U.S. military's use of space constellations in support of operations during a conflict. Small satellites are not a magic bullet, however; key satellite functions will still depend on bulkier and more complex systems, such as the large but critically important nuclear-hardened command-and-control mission satellites. Many of these systems involve hefty antennas and considerable power sources.
Given that access to orbit may not be guaranteed during a war in space, the United States has also been exploring alternative ways to perform some of the core functions that satellites now provide. At this stage, high-flying unmanned aerial vehicles with satellite-like payloads offer the most advanced alternative. But considering the vehicles' vulnerability to sophisticated air defenses, their lower altitude and endurance relative to orbital satellites, and their limited global reach, this remains a tentative solution at best.
Overall, the United States is getting far more serious about the threat of space warfare. Investment in new technologies is increasing, and the organizational architecture to deal with such a contingency is being put in place. In the race between shield and sword, however, there is no guarantee that offensive ASAT capabilities will not have the advantage, potentially denying critical access to space during a catastrophic celestial war.
The High Cost of a War in Space
Increased competition in space is reviving fears of a war there, one with devastating consequences. Humanity depends on space systems for communication, exploration, navigation and a host of other functions integral to modern life. Moreover, future breakthroughs may await in space, including solar energy improvements, nuclear waste disposal and extraterrestrial mining.
A war in space would disable a number of key satellites, and the resulting debris would place vital orbital regions at risk. The damage to the world economy could also be disastrous. In severity, the consequences of space warfare could be comparable to those of nuclear war. What's more, disabling key constellations that give early launch warnings could be seen as the opening salvo in a nuclear attack, driving the threat of a wider conflagration.
While the United States and other nations are taking measures to better prepare for a potential war in space, their emphasis will likely remain on deterrence. This is an important notion to understand, not only for potential U.S. enemies but also for the United States itself. For instance, it is conceivable that technological advancements in the coming decades could allow the United States to recover militarily from a space clash more quickly than the ever-more space dependent China or Russia. In such a scenario, the costs that a space war would have for the world as a whole might be enough to dissuade Washington from launching its own space attack.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH opposes sale of planes to NIgeria military
on: May 18, 2016, 10:23:19 AM
Fourteen months after the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in Nigeria, the Obama administration is considering selling his government 12 warplanes. It is a thorny decision because Mr. Buhari is an improvement over his disastrous predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, and is fighting Boko Haram, the Islamist extremists who have terrorized the region. But he has not done enough to end corruption and respond to charges that the army has committed war crimes in its fight against the group. Selling him the planes now would be a mistake.
Under Mr. Buhari, Nigeria has cooperated more with Chad and Niger to fight Boko Haram. The group, which emerged in the early 2000s, has seized land in the northeastern, predominantly Muslim section of Nigeria. Thousands of people have been killed and 2.2 million displaced. The group’s depravity captured world attention in 2014 when it kidnapped 276 girls from a secondary school.
While violence is down and some territory has been recaptured, the group continues to attack remote villages and refugee camps, and it is using women and children as suicide bombers. American military officials say that Boko Haram has begun collaborating with the Islamic State and that the groups could be planning attacks on American allies in Africa.
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Yet Nigeria’s government cannot be entrusted with the versatile new warplanes, which can be used for ground attacks as well as reconnaissance. Its security services have long engaged in extrajudicial killings, torture and rape, according to the State Department’s latest annual human rights report. Amnesty International says that during the army’s scorched-earth response to Boko Haram between 2011 and 2015, more than 8,200 civilians were murdered, starved or tortured to death.
The Obama administration was so concerned about this record that two years ago it blocked Israel’s sale of American-made Cobra attack helicopters to Nigeria and ended American training of Nigerian troops. American officials even hesitated to share intelligence with the military, fearing it had been infiltrated by Boko Haram. That wariness has eased and American officials say they are now working with some Nigerian counterparts.
Since winning election on a reform platform, Mr. Buhari has moved to root out graft and to investigate human rights abuses by the military. But the State Department said Nigerian “authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse” in 2015.
That hardly seems like an endorsement for selling the aircraft. Tim Rieser, a top aide to Senator Patrick Leahy, who wrote the law barring American aid to foreign military units accused of abuses, told The Times that “we don’t have confidence in the Nigerians’ ability to use them in a manner that complies with the laws of war and doesn’t end up disproportionately harming civilians, nor in the capability of the U.S. government to monitor their use.”
To defeat Boko Haram, which preys on citizens’ anger at the government, Mr. Buhari will need more than weapons. He has to get serious about improving governance and providing jobs, roads and services in every region of Nigeria. Until then or until Congress develops ways to monitor the planes’ use, it should block the sale.
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Senator Diane Feinstein & husband
on: May 17, 2016, 09:37:56 PM
The US has entered into a contract with a real estate firm to sell 56 buildings that currently house U.S. Post Offices. All 56 were built, operated, and paid for by tax-paying American citizens. Now enjoy reading the rest: The government has decided it no longer needs these buildings, most of which are located on prime land in towns and cities across the country.
The sale of these properties will fetch about$19 billion!
A regular real estate commission will be paid to the company that was given the exclusive listing for handling the sales. That company is CRI and it belongs to a man named Richard Blum.
Richard Blum is the husband of Senator Dianne Feinstein!(Most voters and many of the government people who approved the deal have not made the connection between the two because they have different last names).
Senator Feinstein and her husband stand to make a fortune, estimated at between $950 million and $1.1 BILLION from these transactions!
His company is the sole real estate agent on the sale!
CRI will be making a minimum of 2% and as much as 6% commission on each and every sale. All of the properties that are being sold are all fully paid for. They were purchased with U.S. taxpayers’ dollars.
The U.S.P.S. is allowed free and clear, tax exempt use. The only cost to keep them open is the cost to actually keep the doors open and the heat and lights on. The United States Postal Service doesn't even have to pay county property taxes on these subject properties. QUESTION? Would you put your house in foreclosure just because you couldn't afford to pay the electric bill?
Well, the folks in Washington have given the Post Office the OK to do it! Worse yet, most of the net proceeds of the sales will go back to the U.S.P.S, an organization that is so poorly managed that they have lost $117 billion dollars in the past 10 years!
No one in the mainstream media is even raising an eyebrow over the conflict of interest and on the possibility of corruption on the sale of billions of dollars worth of public assets.
How does a U.S. Senator from San Francisco manage to get away with organizing and lobbying such a sweet deal ? Has our government become so elitist that they have no fear of oversight?
It's no mere coincidence that these two public service crooks have different last names; a feeble attempt at avoiding transparency in these type of transactions.
Pass this info on before it's pulled from the Internet. You can verify it on TruthorFiction and Snopes:http://www.truthorfiction.com/
DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Rambling Rumination: For Doctor Dog
on: May 16, 2016, 03:06:23 PM
Rambling Rumination: Doctor Dog's Adventure continues
by Punong Guro Marc "Crafty Dog" Denny
(c) 2016 DB Inc.
The 2016 Dog Brothers US Tribal Gathering of the Pack was held this past weekend on May 14-15.
Original Dog Brother Dogzilla
Seeing Eye Dog
Timekeeper and Scribe of the Tribe: Poi Dog
and yours truly as Ringmaster.
It is not our way to score things or to rank things, but I must say that this particular Tribal was simply outstanding from beginning to end. The physicality, the technical skill displayed under extreme adrenal conditions, the "Friends at the end of the day" credo, the variety of weapons, the creativity-- all were of the highest order.
Some random observations:
1) Size disparity: Again and again smaller fighters fought fearlessly and well against much larger fighters and with a number of fighters between 250 and 300 pounds, "larger" means large! It was common to see weight disparities of 60-100 pounds!
2) Kicking: Many of us have been taught that kicking in a weapons fight is foolish. Not on this field! Many fighters regularly integrate kicking, including head kicks, side kicks, spinning back kicks, teeps, front kicks as well as leg kicks into their games. Several of the lighter fighters were particularly skillful in this regard and were able to balance the scales against heavier opponents with their kicks. Some of the larger fighters surprised in this regard as well, for example Samoan C-Puni scored strong side kicks several times.
3) In the old days, we simply used knife as a way to warm up with the "knives" being rattan dowels or plastic trainers-- with exception of the occasional power thruster (e.g. Top Dog!)-- not a scary thing. Today most of the fighters use aluminum trainers. Getting thrust or hacked with an aluminum trainers, especially one the size of a Bowie knife is no joke with broken hands, arms, or ribs being a real possibility. With the greater danger these fights become more realistic and quite interesting in their own right with interesting match ups between ice pick and hammer grips being quite common; and one fighter exploring hammer with reverse edge.
4) The variety of weapons brought to bear continues to grow. With no public in attendance at a Tribal it becomes psychologically easier for fighters to experiment. In addition to the usual single stick, there was plenty of double stick, stick & knife, sword and knife, stick & buckler, sword & buckler, and even one staff & buckler!
5) With several people rather dinged up from Day One, Day Two had far more sword fights. A word here on the sword fights: Obviously if swung with intention a piece of aluminum the size of a sword can do too much e.g. break major bones badly or lastingly reduce IQ. Thus these fights require an intuitive understanding of both fighters equally staying relaxed and dialing back on the speed and power-- much trust in one's opponent to not accelerate is required and the Tribals are a good place for this. If/when someone gets excited and goes to hard these weapons can cause major breaks (ask Gong Fu Dog, who was on the wrong end of this a few years back.)
6) I think it safe to say there has been more exploration of the buckler in the Europe Dog Brothers than here in the US (though the NoHo Clan has been doing some good work in this regard) with many Euros going into the manuals from centuries ago. It was interesting for Poi Dog and me to scan for the differences due to this influence between the Germans and the Americans.
Noteworthy in this regard was C-Faithful Dog who came cherry to the experience but showed excellent intuitive understanding and movment.
7) The calm and composure shown by all was impressive. Particularly noteworthy for me was Beowulf who would calmly transition from taking most of the pictures you see on DBMA FB (and soon to be seen on our photo gallery) to some of the most hellacious fights of the weekend without batting an eye. Very Akita-like!
As a teacher I confess to being more than a little proud of the good use my students put to the ideas, tactics, and concepts that we have worked. "Its DBMA-- if you see it taught, you see it fought!"
9) The culmination of the weekend came with Doctor Dog deciding to take up the "Beasting" tradition started by the Euros in celebration of this being his last time on the field. In a mighty display he fought seven fighters seriatim without rest!!!
Then it was time for the full Dog Brothers there to confer over the ascensions. As always, the thoughtful consideration and conversation did its magic and I feel good about the choices we made. They are:
Promoted to Dog:
Promoted to Candidate Dog Brothers/Cat Sister
Clint "C-To be determined" Taylor
Christine "C-Freyja Cat" Richter
Holger "C-Juggernaut Dog" Hoffmann
Rouwen "C-Silent Dog" Neumann
Josh "C-Lazy Eye Dog" Rogers
Lamont "C-Wile E. Dog" Glass
Joseph "C-Honey Badger Dog" DeBraux
Mario "C-Beast Hound" Ramirez
Promoted to Full Dog Brother.....
Matt "Fox Hound" Berry
Also, I took advantage of the occasion to promote Crossover Dog to DBMA Red Tag Instructor and Dog Steve Sachs to Instructor.
With his retirement, promoted to the next level, the for now nameless level, was Doctor Dog.
Here are some words I wrote back in 2003-- perhaps they be of relevance to my good friend Doctor Dog at this special moment in his Life:
At the core of the attraction that the FMA hold for me is that they produce men who "walk as warriors for all their days".
Of all the stories of Guro Inosanto, in one of many that have touched me deeply, he tells of watching old manongs hobble out to demonstrate their art. Amongst his many skills Guro I. is an extraordinary mimic (of accents as well as movement BTW) and as he mimics their movement one can see the effects of time. But then!-- they pick up their sticks and begin to move and it is as though they were young again: the movement live, dynamic and full of grace. And then they finish and become old men again, and hobble off.
The thought I apply to myself for my personal mission (and that of DBMA) of "walking as a warrior for all my days" is to train so that there is a place in myself that is forever young-- a place that I can access should I ever need to. If I remember my readings in NLP correctly, this may be called an anchor. In FMA perhaps this may be considered an anting-anting.
Regardless the name, it is the place that is forever young. If one has done little in youth, it seems reasonable to me to think that it will be of less value than if one has done more-- without having done "too much".. Perhaps some of the training that is derided by some today may be better seen as what those who "did more" in their youth use to keep the rust off their skills? Of course this interpretation implies that these methods may not suffice in the absence of seasoning experiences.
Just a rambling rumination.
In my case on this day I went straight from the Sacred Ground of the Dog Brothers to the gym and deep in the altered space that a Gathering brings, I began to dance with my sticks, with them speaking to me of what I had learned from I had witnessed.
As the Toby Keith song goes, "I may not be as young as I once was, but I am as young once as I ever was."
My life upon it.
The Adventure continues!
Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US-China (& Japan, South China Sea-- Vietnam, Philippines, etc)
on: May 16, 2016, 09:33:09 AM
Or it might realize it might be a good idea to start working to restrain the Norks and to start respecting international law in the South China Sea.
Thanks in great part to the Obama-Kerry-supported by Hillary Iran nuke deal, the era of nuclear non-proliferation is over. Thanks too to Obama-Clinton, the US's ability to lead world wide Pax Americana to the benefit of all (most certainly including China) is over.
Throw in the Norks going nuke, and well , , , the facts have changed and thus too our strategy must change.