$1 Billion in Arms Sent to Iraq… Lost

26 May 2017

2017/05/24 – Iraq: US military admits failures to monitor over $1 billion worth of arms transfers – Amnesty International

The US Army failed to keep tabs on more than $1 billion worth of arms and other military equipment in Iraq and Kuwait according to a now declassified Department of Defense (DoD) audit, obtained by Amnesty International following Freedom of Information requests.


The military transfers came under the Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF), a linchpin of US-Iraqi security cooperation. In 2015, US Congress appropriated USD$1.6 billion for the programme to combat the advance of IS.


Amnesty International’s research has consistently documented lax controls and record-keeping within the Iraqi chain of command. This has resulted in arms manufactured in the USA and other countries winding up in the hands of armed groups known to be committing war crimes and other atrocities, such as IS, as well as paramilitary militias now incorporated into the Iraqi army.

How insane is it to understand that as long as this war has persisted, in 2015, we still allocating money to send them more weapons.


California Cuts Pension Benefits To a Small City

20 Dec 2016

I have been hitting the pensions this week… California is getting the message… or maybe they are sending a message…

CalPERS Cuts Pension Benefits For First Time

The unthinkable just happened in Loyalton, California, a small remote city nestled high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

For the first time in its 85-year history, the California Public Employees Retirement System, CalPERS, is drastically cutting benefits for public retirees. Starting January 1st, four retired City of Loyalton public employees will have their pensions cut 60 percent. For 71-year-old Patsy Jardin, that means her pension will drop from about $49,000 a year to a little more than $19,000.


John worked about 22 years for the City of Loyalton, Patsy worked there for 34 years. Both of them thought their pensions were safe when they retired since the city had always paid its CalPERS bills in full.

But three years ago, the City Council in Loyalton voted to leave CalPERS in order to save money. At that time, CalPERS informed the city its pension accounts were only 40 percent funded despite the fact Loyalton had paid all its previous bills.


Patsy Jardin thinks CalPERS is using her plight to send a message to other California public employees and cities, that despite tight budgets, dropping CalPERS may come with consequences.

There’s probably more here than we see, but it is still amazing the California is doing this.


Pensions in Los Angeles are Sinking The System

19 Dec 2016

Los Angeles’ Pension Problem Is Sinking The City

Indeed Los Angeles, like so many major U.S. cities, is being crippled by its public employee pension debt. According to the most recent actuarial report, the city’s three retirement systems–for public safety workers, water and power workers, and general employees–have a combined $15 billion debt.


In total, LA’s system has 38,113 retirees and beneficiaries receiving average yearly benefits of $48,218, and many of them no longer live in California, reducing these plans’ supposed multiplier benefits.


Unfunded pension liabilities have already caused bankruptcy in Stockton, Vallejo and San Bernardino; and eat up similarly large chunks of the budget in San Jose and San Diego (despite those cities’ previous reform attempts).

So who will be the first to start saying no to these pensions?


Social Security Income Garnished Because of Student Loans

14 Aug 2014

Whether it’s student loans, FHA loans, etc. – please know who you are dealing with when you borrow from the government.

Student Debt Threatens the Safety Net for Elderly Americans – Bloomberg Businessweek

Until his Social Security check arrived nearly $300 lighter last June, Eric Merklein, 67, had no idea that he was carrying outstanding student debt. Merklein eventually learned that the government was taking money from his Social Security payments to repay loans he took out roughly four decades ago;


For older Americans, owing for government-backed student loans can be particularly tough. Unlike other kinds of debt, including private student loans, collectors of federal student loan debt have the power to garnish income, block benefits, and withhold tax rebates. As a result, some older borrowers are seeing part of their Social Security payments seized and their wages cut off just when they are especially vulnerable.