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Each Household in Chicago Is Obligated to Pay Nearly $125,000 – Mostly in Pension Liability


Chicagoans have no idea how much pension debt Illinois politicians have placed upon them, a staggering total of $130,000 billion, which leaves each household on the hook for $125,000. This includes direct pension debt owed by the city government, Chicago Public Schools, the park district, Chicago’s share of Cook County governments, five-state pension funds, and massive unfunded liabilities. This figure is nearly double what officials admit. Unfortunately, 27% of Chicagoans are in poverty, so the middle class will be stuck with an even bigger burden to make up for those that cannot pay. People are getting what they voted for, but are not yet aware of the magnitude of the crisis.

Chicagoans have no idea how much pension debt Illinois politicians have saddled them with. Officially, Windy City residents are on the hook for $70 billion in total pension shortfalls from the city and its sister governments plus a share of Cook County and state pensions.

But listen to Moody’s Investors Service, the rating agency that’s been most critical of Chicago’s finances, and you’ll get a different picture. Moody’s pegs the total pension debt burden for Chicagoans at $130 billion, nearly double the official numbers. (Yes, by chance the number is eerily similar to the official shortfall of $129 billion facing the five state-run pension funds. But don’t confuse the two.)

That’s scary news for Windy City residents. Barring real reforms, concessions from the unions or bankruptcy, Chicagoans can expect to be hit with whatever series of tax hikes politicians will try to enact to reduce that debt.

That $130 billion is the total Moody’s calculates when adding up the direct pension debt owed by the city government, Chicago Public Schools, the park district and Chicago’s share of various Cook County governments and the five state pension funds. Moody’s takes a more realistic approach to investment assumptions than the city and county governments take.

 

Officially, the four city-run funds have $28 billion in unfunded pension debts.

Then there’s another $11 billion in official CPS teacher pension debt. Add another $4 billion from the Chicago Park District and the city’s pro-rata share of Cook County-related pension debt. Finally, add Chicagoans’ $27 billion share of the state’s pension debt ($129 billion). In total, the official debt Chicagoans are stuck with adds up to $70 billion.

That’s over $67,000 in pension debt for each household in Chicago.

But the burden is so much higher than that. That $70 billion is based on the rosy actuarial assumptions used by the pension funds.

Other financial institutions, including Moody’s, use far more realistic assumptions to figure out the size of Chicago and the state’s pension debt. Under Moody’s calculations – what they call the Adjusted Net Pension Liability (ANPL) – Chicagoans’ pension debt burden is far bigger.

The unfunded liability of Chicago’s four city-run funds alone under Moody’s calculation swells to $42 billion. Chicago Teachers Pension Fund debt more than doubles to $25 billion. And Chicagoans’ share of the state’s $250 billion ANPL becomes $53 billion.

In all, Chicagoans are on the hook for $130 billion in unfunded overlapping Chicago-area and state ANPL, according to Moody’s.

That translates to nearly $125,000 in pension debt for every household in Chicago.

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Three Reasons That Socialism Has Never Worked


This is not really news, but it is a great editorial presented by TV anchor, Liz Wheeler. In just three minutes, this vibrant young lady gives three reasons, complete with examples, that socialism does not work. She concludes that, under socialism, after the state takes all the money from the rich and the middle class, eventually it runs out of people to tax, and everyone becomes equally poor. -GEG




Jeff Bezos of Amazon Is Becoming Washington DC’s Biggest Government Contractor

The Department of Defense invited proposals for a $10-billion contract called JEDI, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, as they plan to move all of the DOD’s data, including classified material, into one place in the cloud, instead of its current state of being strewn across 400 centers. The deal is rigged in favor of Amazon because its specifications are such that only Amazon can meet them. For example, one provision stipulates that bidders must already generate more than $2 billion a year in commercial cloud revenues, which knocks out most of Amazon’s competitors.

Amazon has spent $67 million on lobbying since 2000, including more this year than Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo combined. Its Washington office employs more than 100 lobbyists, including 68 officials who came there from from government employment. Anne Rung, who served as the government’s chief acquisition officer, helped pass the so-called “Amazon amendment”, a provision buried in a defense authorization bill that establishes Amazon as the go-to portal for every online purchase the government makes—some $53 billion every year. It is no surprise that she now works for Amazon. -GEG

There’s a new scandal quietly unfolding in Washington. It’s far bigger than Housing Secretary Ben Carson buying a $31,000 dinette set for his office, or former EPA chief Scott Pruitt deploying an aide to hunt for a deal on a used mattress. It involves the world’s richest man, President Trump’s favorite general, and a $10 billion defense contract. And it may be a sign of how tech giants and Silicon Valley tycoons will dominate Washington for generations to come.

The controversy involves a plan to move all of the Defense Department’s data—classified and unclassified—on to the cloud. The information is currently strewn across some 400 centers, and the Pentagon’s top brass believes that consolidating it into one cloud-based system, the way the CIA did in 2013, will make it more secure and accessible. That’s why, on July 26, the Defense Department issued a request for proposals called JEDI, short for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure. Whoever winds up landing the winner-take-all contract will be awarded $10 billion—instantly becoming one of America’s biggest federal contractors.

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But when JEDI was issued, on the day Congress recessed for the summer, the deal appeared to be rigged in favor of a single provider: Amazon. According to insiders familiar with the 1,375-page request for proposal, the language contains a host of technical stipulations that only Amazon can meet, making it hard for other leading cloud-services providers to win—or even apply for—the contract. One provision, for instance, stipulates that bidders must already generate more than $2 billion a year in commercial cloud revenues—a “bigger is better” requirement that rules out all but a few of Amazon’s rivals.

What’s more, the process of crafting JEDI bears all the hallmarks of the swamp that Trump has vowed to drain. Though there has long been talk about the Defense Department joining the cloud, the current call for bids was put together only after Defense Secretary James Mattis hired a D.C. lobbyist who had previously consulted for Amazon. The lobbyist, Sally Donnelly, served as a top advisor to Mattis while the details of JEDI were being hammered out. During her tenure, Mattis flew to Seattle to tour Amazon’s headquarters and meet with Jeff Bezos. Then, as the cloud-computing contract was being finalized, Donnelly’s former lobbying firm, SBD Advisors, was bought by an investment fund with ties to Amazon’s cloud-computing unit.

Congressional insiders who have reviewed the process question whether Donnelly violated a federal law that bars executive-branch employees from participating in government decisions that affect their personal interests. “We recently became aware of serious and possible criminal violations related to the Amazon cloud DOD contract process,” says a high-ranking congressional staffer who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “We are concerned about the implications of the appearance of conflicts of interest and impropriety related to how Pentagon personnel with close ties to Amazon may have influenced multi-billion-dollar cloud contracts.”

Donnelly, through her lawyer, denies any wrongdoing. “Ms. Donnelly sold her entire stake in SBD Advisors before setting foot in the Pentagon,” the lawyer said. “From that moment forward, she has had absolutely no financial or other interest in SBD Advisors or its clients.”

But whether or not any legal or ethical boundaries were crossed, Amazon’s high-ranking connections in the Pentagon underscore how Jeff Bezos continues to wield influence in Washington, even as the president himself rails against the online goliath. It also raises a larger question: How do you drain a swamp when the alligators are bigger than ever? “When you have that kind of access during a $10 billion procurement, that compromises the integrity of the procurement,” says John Weiler, an industry expert who runs a trade group that includes many leading IT firms. “Amazon was basically able to write the playbook.”

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Judge Refuses CNN and Buzzfeed Request for Identities of Jurors in Manafort Case, Fearing for Their Lives

The judge presiding over former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial revealed that he has been receiving threats to compel him to reveal the identities of the jurors in the Manafort case but that he refused because he fears for their lives. Because of the threats, he now is receiving protection from US Marshals. Judge T.S. Ellis denied a request from CNN and other left-of-center media outlets which sought to obtain the names and addresses of the 12 jurors in the trial. -GEG

The judge presiding over former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial revealed on Friday that he has been receiving threats over the case and is now receiving protection from U.S. Marshals.

The revelation came after U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied a request from CNN and other left-of-center media outlets which sought to obtain the names and addresses of the 12 jurors in the trial, the Washington Examiner reported.

“I don’t feel right if I release their names,” Ellis said, according to Fox News’ Jake Gibson. “I think there would be a substantial amount of people afraid… to do so would create a risk of harm to them.”

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Caracas, Venezuela: Water Taps Run Dry from Lack of Maintenance in City’s Water System


The water shortages in Caracas are caused mainly by a lack of maintenance to the city’s water network – and a lack of funds to replace broken parts. Socialist dictator, Nicolás Maduro, blamed the problem on right-wing “terrorists” who he accuses of sabotage. 75% of Caracas residents do not consistently have access to running water, and 11% believe dirty water has caused skin problems and stomach illnesses. Millions of people now have extremely limited access to basic resources such as food and medicine due to hyperinflation. -GEG

Many Venezuelans are now facing the prospect of lack of access to clean water, a crisis affecting everything from people’s homes to public hospitals, a report from Reuters detailed on Wednesday.

At the Central Venezuelan University hospital, once renowned across Latin America, many appointments, clinics, and operations have been canceled as a result of water shortages. Many of the hospital’s bathrooms are closed, while patients are forced to use a tiny tap on the ground floor providing just a trickle of water.

“I have gone to the operation bloc and opened the tap to wash my hands, as you must do before a surgery, and nothing comes out,” gynecologist Lina Figueria told the agency.

In people’s homes, individuals are left unable to drink water or wash amid the country’s ferociously hot summer climate.

Last month, Breitbart reported how people began staging protests due to water failures mainly affecting the capital Caracas. Groups of demonstrators blocked highways around the city to protest the lack of clean water supplies, which they complained would expose them to infectious diseases.

The water shortages are mainly caused by a lack of maintenance to the city’s water network and a lack of necessary funds to replace broken parts. Socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro has blamed the issue on the behavior of unspecified right-wing “terrorists” who he accuses of sabotage.

“For many years this deterioration process was not noticeable. But now the water transport systems are very damaged,” said Jose De Viana, former president of Hidrocapital, the state company in charge of Caracas’s water.

Last month, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez announced a “special plan” to fix the issue but failed to provide details of how he would do so, while no temporary solution has been found.

The country’s last major water shortage was in February 2016, when the government announced a weekend “maintenance” session designed to maintain sufficient water levels during a period of drought with the average temperature at that time of year around 68 F.

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Yazidi Girl, Who Was Forced into Sex Slavery in Iraq, Meets Her Former ISIS Captor Who Now Lives Freely in Germany


After fleeing sex-slave captivity in Iraq, Ashwaq Ta’lo thought she was safe in Germany but, when she was returning home from school one night, a car pulled up beside her, driven by the man who had bought her as a sex slave in Iraq. In fear that she would be hurt by the man, who knew where she lived, Ashwaq went back to Iraq. Her tormentor was part of an unknown number of violent jihadists who have slipped into Germany supposedly as immigrants seeking asylum. -GEG

 

A Yazidi teenager who fled from Islamic State slavery in Iraq, only to come face to face with her former captor in Germany, told RT why she returned to Iraq, and why she thinks Europe is no safe haven for girls like her.

After fleeing captivity in Iraq, Ashwaq Ta’lo thought she was safe in Schwabisch Gmund, a picturesque market town in the foothills of Germany’s Swabian mountains, near Stuttgart. That changed one night in February, when Ashwaq was returning home from school and a car pulled up beside her.

A short-bearded man stepped out and took off his glasses, leaning in closer to look at the teenager. “Can I ask you a question,” he said. “Are you Ashwaq?”

It was a face Ashwaq never thought she would see again. The man, known only as Abu Humam, was a Syrian Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighter who had bought Ashwaq for $100 at a slave market in Ba’aj, Iraq in 2015. He was now living in Germany as a refugee, enjoying the same freedom as his former victim.

“I said ‘no, I’m not Ashwaq,’” she told RT. “Then he said ‘no, you are and I know it, don’t lie to me,’” Ashwaq panicked and fled to her brother’s house, as Abu Humam followed her. The encounter instantly brought her from peaceful Germany back to the dusty roads of war-torn Iraq, where her ordeal had begun a few years before.

In 2014, as ISIS hordes claimed land and took lives across Iraq and Syria at blitzkrieg pace, Ashwaq lived with 77 of her extended family in a small village in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS’ campaign of slaughter and pillage eventually caught up with them, and jihadists surrounded her family home, capturing and separating the family.

“The worst time in my life was the moment when ISIS separated us from our families,” Ashwaq recalls. “I knew that I would be raped and tortured.” She was 15 at the time.

From there, Ashwaq was shuttled in pickup trucks from around northern Iraq, until she landed in the tiny town of Ba’aj, where she was sold for $100 to Abu Humam. “I tried my best to convince him that he should release me,” she said. “But he said that he got orders that they should rape all Yazidi women and keep them as slaves. We even tried looking for gasoline or anything sharp, like knives or scissors, to kill ourselves with, but didn’t find anything.”

Ashwaq was forced to convert to Islam, and became Abu Humam’s property. When the militants moved, Abu Humam kept the teenage girl by his side, a human shield against US-led Coalition airstrikes. Eventually, Ashwaq managed to flee, and a year later was resettled in Germany under a refugee program.

“We knew that if we stayed they would kill us, because they are ISIS and they are murderers,” she said.

After meeting Abu Humam in Germany, Ashwaq filed a police report and told her assigned social worker who she had seen. She says the police waited a month and a half to open the case, and when they did, they found no leads.

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Poland Deports Top Soros Organizer Back to Ukraine


YOURCOMMENTSHERE

On Tuesday August 14, 2018, Poland deported top Soros organizer Lyudmyla Kozlovska from the Schengen (EU) area without an explanation.

The George Soros Open Dialog Foundation called this an “act of political nature carried out by the Polish authorities in order to stop the activities of the organisation in the country and abroad.”

Kozlovska’s husband, Mr Bartosz Kramek, Head of the Open Dialog Foundation’s Board, who had been calling for various civil disobedience actions in Poland.

Poland sent her packing on Tuesday.
Via Jack Posobiec:

#Breaking Poland deports top Soros organizer back to Ukraine https://t.co/3SS3a1L8Ys

— Jack Posobiec ?? (@JackPosobiec) August 18, 2018

The Soros agitators were organizing disruptions against the Polish government and can’t understand why they were kicked out!

Via The Open Dialogue Foundation:

On Tuesday 14 August 2018, Mrs Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President of the Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) was deported from the EU territory to Kyiv, Ukraine due to an abuse of the Schengen Information System (SIS). According to the Belgian Border Police, the deportation was enforced after a confirmation from the side of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Poland. Such measure bans Mrs Kozlovska from entering the countries of the Schengen zone.

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Anti-Jihad Blogger Kicked Off Patreon by MasterCard

Author Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch was informed that he was cut off by Patreon on orders from MasterCard after he posted a video announcing that he was refurbishing a video studio for weekly live streams titled, “This Week In Jihad.” Spencer believes that MasterCard and Patreon are deleting accounts that have been targeted by the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center, which labeled him as a “hate group leader,” “white nationalist” and “anti-Muslim extremist.”

Some Libertarians argue that social-media and Big-Tech companies are private and can operate their business any way wish because, in a free market, competition will fill the demand. However, there have been three other companies, Hatreon, Free Starter, and Makers Support, that tried to compete with Patreon after it banned “hate speech,” but all of them were shut down.

To create a free-market competitor to Patreon would require a currency outside the US dollar, a credit-card company independent of the banks, a payment processor, and a startup all at the same time. In other words, this is no longer a free market. -GEG

The targeting of conservatives, libertarians, and critics of political Islam has been further targeted by progressive social media giants. After Alex Jones of InfoWars and conservative personality Gavin McInnes were banned by several social media platforms (including Facebook and YouTube), author Robert Spencer of JihadWatch was informed that he was cut off by MasterCard once he tried to go online with a new video studio. Some observers are calling it a coordinated attack by social media giants against conservatives and supporters of President Trump.

On Tuesday, Spencer — the author of “The History of Jihad” and other books about political Islam — received an email from fundraising website Patreon that it was removing his account because of a complaint from MasterCard, the multinational credit card compan. The missive from Patreon said that “Mastercard has a stricter set of rules and regulations than Patreon,” and that the credit card company reserves the right to deny services to accounts of their choosing. “This is in line with their terms of service, which means it’s something we have to comply by.” Spencer was refunded $475.22 by Patreon. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience and frustration this might cause,” it said.

Spencer later stated that he had not received any prior warning that he was in violation of MasterCard’s rules despite having uploaded a single video announcing that he was refurbishing a television studio for his planned weekly livestreams titled, “This Week In Jihad.”

When Spencer responded to Patreon’s email, he received no response. Instead, when Spencer announced on Twitter his banishment from Patreon, Patreon responded:

“Hi Robert, we emailed you earlier today which explained that unfortunately Mastercard required us to remove your account. You replied to us but if you have further questions we’re happy to keep emailing.” Patreon later tweeted, “Hey, we’ve been emailing with Robert today to explain the situation as unfortunately Mastercard required us to remove his account. We will continue to email with him if he has further questions.”

Spencer stated that Patreon had not been emailing him, nor had the company explained why MasterCard objected to him. On his website, Spencer wrote that Patreon did not explain why Patreon was obligated to comply with MasterCard. “I don’t have a MasterCard and didn’t have one attached to my Patreon account, so MasterCard really wasn’t involved — unless it owns Patreon, which is apparently the case.”

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