29 August 2016
Iran deploys long-range missiles to Fordo nuclear site
(probably cost around $400 million, eh? discount for cash I hope! - lou)
(probably cost around $400 million, eh? discount for cash I hope! - lou)
Tehran (AFP) - Tehran has deployed a recently delivered Russian-made long-range missile system to central Iran to protect its Fordo nuclear facility, state television said Sunday.
Protecting nuclear facilities is paramount "in all circumstances" General Farzad Esmaili, the commander of Iran's air defences, told the IRIB channel.
"Today, Iran's sky is one of the most secure in the region," he added.
A video showed an S-300 carrier truck in Fordo, raising its missile launchers toward the sky, next to other counter-strike weaponry.
The images were aired hours after supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a speech to air force commanders, including Esmaili, in which he stressed that Iranian military power was for defensive purposes only.
"Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy," Khamenei said.
"The S-300 system is a defence system not an assault one, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it."
The Fordo site, built into a mountain near the city of Qom has stopped enriching uranium since the January implementation of a nuclear deal with world powers.
Under the historic accord, Iran dismantled most of its estimated 19,000 centrifuges -- giant spinning machines that enrich uranium, keeping only 5,000 active for research purposes.
Iran and the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia negotiated for more than two years before signing a historic July 2015 agreement that removed some international sanctions in return for curbs on Tehran's controversial atomic programme.
Posted by Lou at 8/29/2016 07:00:00 AM
24 August 2016
Larry's Morning Commentary - Ponzi
I have written about pension funds more than a few times over the past few weeks. Why? I keep writing about it because I think it is one of the biggest risks to our economic system and no one seems to care. The pensioners don’t care because as long as their checks keep coming why would they care about its stability. They are not going to question it until it’s too late. The politicians are not going to address it because it would be political suicide. The rest of us folks either cannot comprehend the scope or realize that they can do nothing about it. From Zerohedge:
“Defined Benefit Pension Plans are, almost by definition, a ponzi scheme. Current assets are used to pay current claims in full in spite of insufficient funding to pay future liabilities: classic Ponzi. But unlike Wall Street and corporate ponzi schemes no one goes to jail here because the establishment is complicit. Everyone from government officials to union bosses are incentivized to maintain the status quo – public employees get to sleep better at night thinking they have a “retirement plan,” public legislators get to be re-elected by union membership while pretending their states are solvent and union bosses get to keep their jobs while hiding the truth from employees.”
Not everyone is complicit though. We learn from Pensions and Investments:
“The American Academy of Actuaries and the Society of Actuaries Monday abruptly disbanded its longtime joint Pension Finance Task Force, objecting to a task force paper challenging the standard actuarial practice of valuing public pension plan liabilities.”
“This paper (is) being censored by the AAA” and SOA, said Edward Bartholomew, who was a member of the former task force, in an interview. “They didn’t want it to get out.”
Others who were members of the task force also said in interviews the two actuarial groups are trying to suppress publication of the paper.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Janus’ Bill Gross said:
“Fund managers that have been counting on returns of 7 percent to 8 percent may need to adjust that to around 4 percent, Gross, who runs the $1.5 billion Janus Global Unconstrained Bond Fund, said during an Aug. 5 interview on Bloomberg TV. Public pensions, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest in the U.S., are reporting gains of less than 1 percent for the fiscal year ended June 30.”
Zerohedge took a look at what would happen if the pension world heeded Mr. Gross’ advice:
“As one might suspect, the results were abysmal. We conservatively assume that public pensions are currently $2.0 trillion underfunded ($4.5 trillion of assets for $6.5 trillion of liabilities) even though we’ve seen estimates that suggest $3.5 trillion or more might be more appropriate. We then adjusted the return on asset assumption down from the 7.5% used by most pensions to the 4.0% suggested by Mr. Gross and found that true public pension underfunding could be closer to $5.5 trillion, or over 2.5x more than current estimates. Others have suggested that returns should be closer to risk-free rates which would imply an even more draconian $8.4 trillion underfunding.”
So, to all the Governors, pension boards and state legislators I suppose all I have to say is “Your move!”
Posted by Lou at 8/24/2016 08:33:00 AM
Obama Admin Won’t Tell Congress How It Paid Iran $1.3 Billion
The Obama administration is withholding from Congress details about how $1.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds was delivered to Iran, according to conversations with lawmakers, who told the Washington Free Beacon that the administration is now stonewalling an official inquiry into the matter.
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice have all rebuffed a congressional probe into the circumstances surrounding the $1.3 billion payment to Iran, which is part of an additional $400 million cash payout that occurred just prior to the release of several U.S. hostages and led to accusations that the administration had paid Iran a ransom.
The Obama administration has admitted in recent days that the $400 million cash delivery to Iran was part of an effort to secure the release of these American hostages, raising further questions on Capitol Hill about White House efforts to suppress these details from the public.
The $400 million was part of a $1.7 billion legal settlement reached with Iran earlier this year. Congressional inquiries into how this money reached Iran are failing to get answers.
The State and Treasury Departments declined on Tuesday to answer a series of questions from the Free Beacon about the method in which U.S. taxpayer funds were paid to Iran.
The administration is also withholding key details about the payment from leading members of Congress, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) and Mike Lee (R., Utah), who launched an inquiryinto the matter earlier this month.
The Departments of State, Treasury, and Justice all failed to respond to the inquiry by Monday’s deadline, according to congressional sources tracking the matter.
“The already bizarre circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion payment to the Islamic Republic have only gotten stranger in the weeks since we learned of the $400 million in cash that was sent to the Iranian regime last January 16th,” Cruz said to the Free Beacon. “If this payment was, as the Obama administration insists, a straightforward settlement of an old debt that it would have cost America more to contest, why all the secrecy?”
The State Department said it does not know how the remaining $1.3 billion was transferred or to whom it was transferred. Cruz described this disclosure as “confounding.”
“It is even more confounding that the State Department spokesman claimed Monday not to know how or to whom the residual $1.3 billion was transferred, although he does know the transaction happened,” Cruz said. “That kind of money doesn’t just transfer itself to a rogue regime still under heavy U.S. sanctions for its sponsorship of terrorism. Someone in our government must have the answers the American people deserve.”
Cruz and Lee are seeking to determine if these payments violated U.S. law. They also requested information about the U.S. officials who negotiated and carried out the payments.
“While we are deeply concerned about the national security implications of the administration’s cash-for-hostages scheme, especially in light of reports that Iran has already arrested additional Americans, the purpose of this letter is to inquire about the legality of the payment,” the senators wrote in an Aug. 12 letter.
“It is imperative that the administration provide a full accounting of its conduct with respect to the $400 million cash payment to Iran,” they wrote. “If the administration violated the law, then Congress and the American people should be made aware of it so that they can hold the appropriate officials accountable and take whatever steps necessary to strengthen the law and prevent any reoccurrence.”
While the administration has remained silent about the circumstances surrounding the payment, investigative reporter Claudia Rosett recently disclosed that the Treasury Department transferred just under $1.3 billion to the State Department in 13 “large identical sums.”
The funds, allocated for “foreign claims,” could shine a light on how the administration moved taxpayer funds into the State Department’s purview in order to provide the additional payment to Iran.
In 13 individual payments of $99,999,999.99, the Treasury Department moved a total of 1,299,999,999.87, which roughly amounts to the remaining money owed to Iran.
Posted by Lou at 8/24/2016 07:37:00 AM
16 August 2016
Hacked Soros Memo: $650,000 to Black Lives Matter
George Soros’s Open Society Institute viewed the 2015 Baltimore unrest following the death of Freddie Gray as opening a “unique opportunity” to create “accountability” for the Baltimore police while aiding activists in reforming the city, according to hacked documents reviewed by Breitbart Jerusalem.
Posted by Lou at 8/16/2016 03:44:00 PM
15 August 2016
Russia Building New Underground Nuclear Command Posts
Meanwhile, the U.S. is building new transgender bathrooms....(Lou)
Meanwhile, the U.S. is building new transgender bathrooms....(Lou)
Russia is building large numbers of underground nuclear command bunkers in the latest sign Moscow is moving ahead with a major strategic forces modernization program.
U.S. intelligence officials said construction has been underway for several years on “dozens” of underground bunkers in Moscow and around the country.
Disclosure of the underground command bunkers comes as Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command, warned recently that Russia has adopted a nuclear use doctrine he called “alarming.”
“It is clear that Russia is modernizing its strategic forces,” Scaparrotti told a conference sponsored by the U.S. Strategic Command.
“Russian doctrine states that tactical nuclear weapons may be used in a conventional response scenario,” Scaparrotti said on July 27. “This is alarming and it underscores why our country’s nuclear forces and NATO’s continues to be a vital component of our deterrence.”
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon nuclear policy official, said Russia’s new national security strategy, which was made public in December, discusses increasing civil defenses against nuclear attack, an indication Moscow is preparing for nuclear war.
“Russia is getting ready for a big war which they assume will go nuclear, with them launching the first attacks,” said Schneider, now with the National Institute for Public Policy, a Virginia-based think tank.
“We are not serious about preparing for a big war, much less a nuclear war,” he added.
Additionally, Russian officials have been issuing nuclear threats.
“A lot of things they say they are doing relate to nuclear threats and nuclear warfighting,” he said. “Active and passive defense were a major Soviet priority and [current Russian leaders] are Soviets in everything but name.”
Russia is engaged in a major buildup of strategic nuclear forces, building new missiles, submarines, and bombers. A State Department report on Russian activities under the New START arms treaty stated in the spring that Moscow added 153 strategic nuclear warheads to its arsenal under the treaty.
The increase in warheads is said to be the result of the deployment of new SS-27 Mod 2 intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads and SS-N-32 submarine-launched missiles.
In addition to new missiles, Russia is building a drone submarine, code-named “Kanyon,” which is said to be designed to carry a megaton-class warhead. Moscow also is moving ahead with a hypersonic strike vehicle designed to deliver nuclear warheads through advanced missile defense systems.
A report by the National Institute for Public Policy concludes that one reason for the Russian nuclear expansion is to sow fear of Moscow.
“Russian leaders appear to view nuclear weapons as the ultimate way to make the world ‘fear,’ or at least respect Russia, and provide a political lever to intimidate, coerce, and deter Western states from attempting to interfere militarily against Russian expansionism,” the report said.
Military analysts say possible U.S. responses to Russia’s underground nuclear complexes include the development of deep-penetrating nuclear bombs capable of placing Russia’s command structure at risk.
Another option proposed by nuclear experts is to develop low-yield nuclear arms that could be used in precision strikes.
Few details about the new nuclear underground bunkers were disclosed. State-run Russian press reports have said underground bunkers are being built in Moscow as part of the strategic forces buildup.
Russia’s Defense Ministry revealed in January that a modernized command and control system will be delivered to strategic forces this year.
The system was described by RIA-Novosti as a fifth-generation advanced command and control system.
Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Dmitri Andreyev stated that the new system, known by its Russian acronym IASBU, will use digital signals to send combat orders and control strategic forces.
“The fifth-generation advanced integrated automated combat control system is being tested at industry enterprises,” Andreyev said, adding that by the end of the year missile units will be equipped with the “modernized control posts and advanced strategic missile systems under development with IASBU sections.”
The new system is being used with new SS-27 intercontinental missile units and will provide greater security so that orders will reach those units.
“This will enable use of missile systems without limiting distances while carrying out maneuvering and broadening of options in choosing their combat patrol routes,” the spokesman said.
The new underground nuclear facilities appear similar to earlier construction for command and control complexes during the Cold War, one official said. Russia also continued building underground nuclear facilities after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The CIA reported through classified channels in March 1997 that construction included an underground subway system from the residence of then-President Boris Yeltsin outside Moscow to a leadership command center.
“The underground construction appears larger than previously assessed,” a CIA report on the facilities stated. “Three decrees last year  on an emergency planning authority under Yeltsin with oversight of underground facility construction suggest that the purpose of the Moscow-area projects is to maintain continuity of leadership during nuclear war.”
Construction work was underway on what the report described as a “nuclear-survivable, strategic command post at Kosvinsky Mountain,” located deep in the Ural Mountains about 850 miles east of Moscow.
Satellite photographs of Yamantau Mountain, also located about 850 miles east of Moscow in the Urals near the town of Beloretsk, revealed development of a “deep underground complex” and new construction at each of the site’s above-ground support areas. Yamantau Mountain means “Evil Mountain” in the local Bashkir language.
Posted by Lou at 8/15/2016 07:19:00 AM