Raiding public pensions

I have written before about how public pensions are being looted by a combination of malpractice by elected officials and greed by investment banks and advisors. The way it works is like this. In order to for the pension funds to be solvent enough to pay out the promised benefits, the elected officials have to set aside a certain amount of money in highly rated securities that have lower returns. What some elected officials do is to divert some of that money to cover expenses since the tax-cutting mania has resulted in local governments not having enough money to meet their needs. Then when the pension funds run low, these elected officials turn to investment firms that promise high rates of return that they say will make up for the shortfall.
[Read more…]

And we’re off!

Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy for the presidency yesterday by releasing a two-minute video. This marks the beginning of the third phase of media coverage. The first dealt with mindless speculations about whether she would run, the second dealt with mindless speculations about when she would announce, and now there will mindless speculation about how good her candidacy will be, focusing on her age, her clothes, her looks, her gender, her laugh, her husband, Benghazi, and all the other things that have absolutely no relevance as to how she will be as a president, not to mention polls about those same things.
[Read more…]

Why so many in Latin America still don’t trust the US

For the first time in twenty years, Cuba attended the Summit of the Americas currently underway in Panama. The US had long opposed their participation but increasingly other nations in the region had said that they would not attend if Cuba were still barred. Rather than the Cuba being isolated, as the US intended, US policy against Cuba had resulted in the US becoming isolated.
[Read more…]

The voices we never hear

Our so-called objective media has been giving a lot of coverage to the framework of the deal agreed upon by the P5+1 nations and Iran. But as Glenn Greenwald points out, the people they get to explain and discuss the topics all share the same anti-Iran bias and seem to take their cues from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and they almost never have people who can provide a counterpoint.
[Read more…]

When ‘failure’ may really be a sign of success

We see that yet another Middle Eastern country that the US has been meddling in is slipping into anarchy and chaos. Yemen, where the US has been doing it drone bombing in pursuit of the al Qaeda affiliate group AQAP (al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) is now on the verge of becoming a failed state like Libya. In Yemen we see that what was a local power struggle turning into a major regional conflict.
[Read more…]

Meanwhile, back at the Bundy ranch …

While black people get killed by the police for the slightest challenge to authority, rancher Cliven Bundy is celebrating his one year anniversary of defying the government and grazing his cattle on federal land without paying fees and threatening to shoot any law enforcement officers that might come to arrest him.

I wonder why he is allowed to get away with throwing a big party for openly defying the authorities while so many people are gunned down by the police for little or no reason. It is a real puzzler, no?

The Daily Show on the Iran deal

Watching the Republicans in Congress and their leader Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu bad-mouth the negotiated framework for a deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran shows how insane politics has become in the US. These people don’t want negotiations being conducted by their own country’s president to succeed. Instead they take their cues from a foreign leader who wants nothing other than the complete capitulation of Iran, and who threaten war if that is not attained. Since Iran will never agree to such humiliating terms, they clearly want war.
[Read more…]

Great article on Social Security

After being on the defensive for some time and trying to prevent the long-held dream of the oligarchy to either cut spending on Social Security benefits (so that they can provide more tax cuts for themselves) or to privatize the funds (so that they can loot it directly) coming true, some Democrats led by senator Elizabeth Warren have gone on the offensive by arguing, correctly, that the benefits actually need to be increased for low-income retirees, with the extra money for it coming from eliminating the cap on earned income subject to the payroll tax that currently stands at $118,500.
[Read more…]