Archive | December 9, 2016

Thousands Set to Die of Fuel Poverty this Winter, while Tories Makes a Killing from U.K.’s Energy Supply*

Thousands Set to Die of Fuel Poverty this Winter, while Tories Makes a Killing from U.K.’s Energy Supply*

By Steve Topple

As thousands of people are set to die from fuel poverty this winter, the Tories have just made a killing – from the sale of National Grid. The U.K. power network operator has sold a 61% stake in its business to a group of companies. And Conservative grandees may directly benefit from the sale.

Freezing to death. Literally

As The Canary reported last year, over the previous five winters an average of 9,500 people died as a result of cold homes. Three factors tend to cause homes to be dangerously cold: poor energy efficiency, high energy bills and low incomes. And estimates suggest that around 2.4 million homes in England live in ‘fuel poverty’. Fuel poverty means having to spend more than 10% of your income to heat and light the house adequately. This is on top of cooking and washing.

And while energy prices have gone down in the past two years, they are set to rise again. But this time, experts say it’s because of Brexit. As The Guardian reported:

“The Co-op [has] told some of its 500,000 energy customers that, from 1 October, it would be raising bills by between 3% and 6%. The latter equating to a potential rise of almost £70. The price of wholesale gas has steadily risen over the last three months but Britain is facing a double hit because gas imports from the continent are about 10% higher still, due to a fall in the value of sterling against the euro [because of Brexit].

But while the public faces a winter of cold homes and rising energy prices, the Tories had some heartwarming news for their bank balances.

Flogging the kitchen sink

National Grid said on Thursday 8 December that it was selling a 61% share of its U.K. gas distribution business. The company is selling the stake, valued at £13.8bn, to a consortium of companies [paywall]. These include German firm Allianz Capital Partners, the China Investment Corporation (CIC, a state-owned wealth fund), the Australian bank Macquarie, the state-owned Qatar Investment Authority, and Amber Infrastructure and Dalmore Capital (two U.K. fund managers).

The details are:

  • National Grid will receive £3.6bn cash for the stake in its gas arm.
  • The company will also get £1.8bn in debt financing.
  • National Grid will return £4bn to shareholders.
  • It will keep a 31% stake in the business.
  • Macquarie and CIC will hold the two largest stakes, at 14.5% and 10.5% respectively.
  • Allianz will have a 10.2% stake.
  • The Qataris will hold an 8.5% stake.
  • The deal was brokered by banks Morgan Stanley, Robey Warshaw and Barclays.

The “best deal for the U.K.”?

The sale appears to go against Theresa May’s pledge in October [paywall] to vet foreign takeovers of British infrastructure more heavily. The Prime Minister said [paywall] that she wanted the government to be able to intervene in an “orderly and structured” way in sensitive foreign investment. May noted [paywall] that she thought ministers should be allowed to intervene in such deals “to get the best deal for the U.K.”.

China is already a huge investor in British companies, with CIC owning a 9% stake in another utility company, Thames Water:

But critics argue that the Conservative government seems hell bent on selling off U.K. infrastructure to foreign governments. As journalist Robin Lustig wrote in The Huffington Post:

“The British approach seems to be not just to flog off the family silver… but to put up on eBay every single thing we might possibly be able to get a price for, up to and including the tiles on the roof.

As with most deals the Conservative government does, however, there seem to be some vested interests at play. And certain Conservative grandees may well benefit from the sale of National Grid.

Tories making a killing

The Chairman of National Grid is Sir Peter Gershon. He is an adviser to the Conservative government, and also Chairman General Healthcare Group, the largest private sector health firm in the U.K. – a company that admits it would benefit from NHS spending cuts.

BlackRock, a U.S. investment management company, owns a 6% stake in National Grid. The firm is openly supportive of the Conservatives, having called for [paywall] a Conservative government in 2015. And numerous Tory peers own stakes in BlackRock.

Lord Lupton, co-Treasurer of the Conservative Party, is a shareholder in BlackRock. As is Tory peer Lord Sassoon. Conservative peer Lord Glendonbrook is also a shareholder in BlackRock. And he holds shares with Hermes, one of the investors in the National Grid sale. He also has a share portfolio with another National Grid investor, Allianz. Interestingly, when the Conservatives sold a stake in Eurostar to Hermes, Glendonbrook was a shareholder of the latter. And he donated £330,000 to the Conservative Party just months earlier.

Hermes is owned by the British Telecom Pension Scheme (BTPS). In turn, Hermes manages BTPS investments, along with BlackRock. Hermes also advises and invests on behalf of numerous other U.K. pension schemes, including the BBC.

The public: paying twice for their gas

Essentially, hundreds of thousands of people who contribute to private pension funds have paid for the stake in National Grid. Then, these people pay again, via National Grid’s gas transportation charges that make up portions of their utility bills.

But this deal is symptomatic of a wider problem with the global financial system. On a larger scale, the same Ponzi-like scheme operates with the U.K. national debt. Pensions and insurance firms own 23% of public debt. So, again, the public pay into pension and insurance schemes, only for our money to be loaned back to us, in the form of national debt. And then, we pay interest on this. On our own money.

Meanwhile, Tory peers and their chums have benefited from the sale of National Grid. And all while thousands of people cannot afford to heat their homes properly. National Grid’s sell-off epitomises the state of the U.K. A society divided into the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’.

Source*

Related Topics:

U.K. Economy Ranked Below Zimbabwe by World Economic Forum*

U.K.: Can you Cut Public Spending to 1930s Level with 2014-18 Cost of Living?*

Brussels Demands extra €519m from U.K. Taxpayers*

U.K.s Chancellor Gives Power to take from Personal Bank Accounts*

U.K. – So that he could get Food to Eat in a Police Cell!

Britain’s Hunger Crisis Sparks First Student-Led Food Bank*

U.K. Breaking the Social Contract Set’s it Back to Post-WWII*

Big Bank Food Speculation: U.K. Blocks Move to End Rising Prices*

U.K. Tories’ Budget Would Institute ‘two-child policy’*

U.K.’s “Anti-extremism” Plan Brings Repression at Home and War Abroad*

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BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and the Rise in Flesh-Eating Bacteria*

BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and the Rise in Flesh-Eating Bacteria*

More than six years after the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, scientists are still observing the effects of the devastating environmental disaster. An estimated 700,000 cubic meters (154 million gallons) of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010, in an event that is commonly named the ‘worst environmental disaster in US history’.

Since the spill, scientists have attributed a number of devastating environmental changes to the event. Among these changes, scientists have recorded shoreline erosion and loss of wetlands and have even discovered traces of oil from the spill in the feathers of birds eaten by land animals – meaning the oil has entered the land-animal food chain. However, for the most part, scientists have been unable to determine the long-term environmental effects of the catastrophic event, leading many to dispute the severity of the issue

Flickr, Anthony D’Onofrio (CC BY 2.0)

 

One such case includes the rise in cases of a flesh-eating bacteria infecting people visiting the Gulf Coast region, including Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Despite what its name suggests, the flesh-eating bacteria, called vibrio vulnificus, does not actually eat flesh. Instead, the microorganism releases a toxin that destroys the surrounding tissue. Once infected, the bacteria begins to destroy the victim’s tissue at a rapid pace. As a result, amputation is often required to save the infected patient.

While the cause of the rise in vibrio vulnificus cases is still widely disputed, many have linked the phenomenon to the Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010.

I’ve got my theory,said Kim Farve, director of public works in Bay St Louis, Mississippi.

They say this Vibrio has been in the water forever. But I grew up on the water, and I don’t remember it ever being a problem until after the [2010] BP oil spill.”

Jocko Angle, a survivor of the virus, shares a similar theory.

I think the oil in the water, combined with the chemicals they used, created the perfect environment for Vibrio to thrive,said Angle.

Since his battle with the virus 3 years ago, Angle created a Facebook page called Vibrio Along the Gulf Coast to provide local residents and victims with a place to share stories and information.

Vibrio vulnificus is found in warm coastal waters and causes an estimated 80,000 illnesses and 100 deaths in the United States every year. The majority of infections occur between May and October, when water temperatures are warmer. Individuals can become infected after consuming raw or undercooked seafood or exposing a wound to seawater.

Typically, the vibrio vulnificus microorganism is a water-born bug that thrives in semi-salty standing water. Despite this, the bacteria can often travel to and temporarily infect other areas, with the help of events such as rainfall, freshwater release and low tides.

Once infected, patients will start experiencing symptoms such as  vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, chills, fever, sepsis and skin lesions. Shortly after the onset of such violent symptoms, the patient will need to seek immediate medical assistance to reduce the risk of death.

While there is not currently any scientific evidence supporting the widely accepted link between the rise in vibrio vulnificus cases and the Deepwater Horizon spill, new research suggests climate change may be playing a primary role. The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, linked rising sea temperatures with the increase of the Vibrio over a 50-year period.

We were able to show a doubling, tripling—in some cases quadrupling—of the Vibrio over that 50-year period,” says Rita Colwell, one of the study’s lead authors.

These findings, once again, highlight the devastating effect of climate change, and could easily be considered an early warning about the direct effects this phenomenon could have on the human race.

Source*

Related Topics:

B.P. Litigation and Deepwater Horizon

2010 Gulf Oil Spill Caused Widespread Land Loss*

’Brain-eating amoeba’ kills Texas Teen Training for the Olympics

CDC is Rather Cool about a Brain-Eating Disease in the Water Supply*

Four Cases of Plague Found in Colorado*

U.S. Military Admits It “Misplaced” Bubonic Plague Samples!?

Bacteria Resistant To ALL Antibiotics Now In the U.K.*

Nestlé Loses more Than $500 Million for Poisoning Maggi Noodles with Lead*

Nestlé Loses more Than $500 Million for Poisoning Maggi Noodles with Lead*

Nestlé spent three decades building a beloved noodle brand in India. Then the world’s biggest food and beverage company stumbled into public relations debacle that cost it half a billion dollars.   — Fortune

In May 2015, a packet of Nestlé’s hugely popular 2-Minute Maggi noodles had been found to contain seventeen times the permissible level of lead and harmful levels of monosodium glutamate (or MSG, a flavour enhancer which was not mentioned in the product’s list of ingredients) in Uttar Pradesh (a state in northern India).

In June 2015, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India branded Maggi noodles as ‘unsafe and hazardous for human consumption’.  Subsequently, the central food regulator imposed a five-month ban on the sale, storage and manufacturing of Nestlé’s fastest-selling food item in India. It also ordered Nestlé India to recall all the available stock of Maggi noodles from about 3.5 million outlets across the country with immediate effect.

In August 2015, India’s central government filed a class action suit with National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission against Nestlé India seeking INR 6.4 billion ($100 million) in damages from the Switzerland-based food giant for alleged unfair trade practices, false labeling and misleading advertisements.

Maggi noodles, which accounted for roughly a quarter of Nestlé nearly $1.6 billion sales in India, returned to stores in November following clearances by the Bombay High Court. Nestlé was not only directed to remove the “No Added MSG” label from the Maggi noodles packets, the company was mandated to conduct external and internal tests on almost 3,500 samples of the product to show the fresh batch contained lead levels well within the limits specified by food regulations.

However, by this time Nestlé India had been hit hard by the Maggi setback. In June itself, Nestlé India’s shares fell down 11% over concerns related to its safety standards. The Maggi recall led to an overall fall in shares by 15 %.

Following the ban, Nestlé immediately took a hit of INR 4.5 billion as it was forced to destroy more than 27,000 tons of Maggi noodles. Maggi’s share in the Indian instant noodles market fell to 42% in January 2016 from a dominant 77% in January 2015.

Nestlé India recorded its first ever loss. The company, which follows a January-December financial year, reported a decline of 17.2% in its net sales for the year ended December 31, 2015 on account of the Maggi ban. Net profit for the year fell to INR 5.63 billion from INR 11.85 billion in the previous year.

In a statement announcing the financial results, Nestlé India Chairman Suresh Narayanan stated “the impact of the Maggi crisis extended to not just factories and employees but also partners, suppliers, farmers, retailers and customers”. Analysts at Fortune reported:

Nestlé lost at least $277 million in missed sales. Another $70 million was spent to execute one of the largest food recalls in history. Add the damage to its brand value — which one consultancy pegged at $200 million — and the total price tag for the debacle could easily be more than half a billion dollars. And the fallout continues.

Nearly a year after the ban, Maggi noodles are back on shelves in India, but Nestlé India may take 3 more years to recover from the economic and social aftershocks. With sales drops, product recalls, and the damages paid, the Maggi disaster has taught the company a costly lesson.

Source*

Related Topics:

Nestle Being Sued for $100 Million Dollars over Hazardous Lead in Food*

Nestlé Removes GMOs from South African Baby Foods not U.S. Baby Foods*

Nestlé to Control Canadian Water Supply that Effect 6 Indigenous Tribes*

Voters in Oregon Defeat Nestlé’s Attempt to Privatize Their Water*

U.S. Giant Dannon Pledges to take GMOs out of its Yogurt*

Nestlé’s Bid To Squash a Child Slavery Suit Rejected*

Alarming Amount of Glyphosates in the Foods you Eat

Synthetic Proteins: Cascading Effects of U.S. Unhealthy Food

You Don’t Wanna Eat This Chicken!

The Spermicide in Your Food!?

Quaker Oats Sued for Glyphosate in ‘100% Natural’ Products*

Feeding Us Pure Poison!

Baby Formula and Foods that Cause Diabetes

It’s Time to Bake Your Own Bread!

And You Thought Mineral Oil to Be Healthy!

Removing Radioactive Toxins from Your Body

U.S. Students Behind in Math*

U.S. Students Behind in Math*

No matter how much money we use to grease the wheels of the U.S. system of education, (at least $8.3 billion for Common Core to date) we’ve failed our children. A new U.S. Department of Education study reveals that U.S. children rank 31st out of 35 developed nations in math. They didn’t fare much better in science, or reading literacy either.

Common Core Math

Common Core Math

By Elena Gooray

 

The results from the world’s biggest comparative education study are in: Students in the United States are still falling behind in math.

Every three years, the Program for International Student Assessment tests 15-year-old kids from 72 countries (or independent economies) in reading, math, and science. While the U.S. continues to score in the average for reading and science, our students fall below par in math, with the disparity having widened in the most recent 2015 assessment.

This news has prompted the usual panic about the U.S. having a “math problem.” But this generic handwringing is not the most fair or helpful way to interpret the test results, argues Martin Carnoy, a professor at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education.

“I don’t think anyone who conceived of the original international tests thought this would, or should, become such a horse race,” he says.

For one thing, Carnoy notes, U.S. student performance varies by state; Massachusetts beat the international average in every subject last year. Between countries, performance varies by socioeconomic class — a point that has increased past disparities between the U.S. and other test-takers.

Analyzing the 2012 PISA results, Carnoy, along with researchers Emma García and Tatiana Khavenson, found that the U.S. measured up much better internationally when students’ academic resources — such as the number of books they have at home, and their mothers’ education levels — were taken into account. Their results suggest that our “math problem” is at least, in part, a resource problem, where the U.S. performs worse than other countries because it serves a more socioeconomically eclectic demographic.

The U.S. PISA rankings, then, may not reflect some broad crisis in quality for math education itself. Instead, the drop may have as much to do with higher numbers of U.S. public school students coming from low-income families with relatively limited academic resources. Low-income students made up the majority in American public schools for the first time in history in 2013, according to a report from the Southern Education Foundation last year.

That trend matches a national widening wealth gap, with more Americans charting as low- and high-income rather than middle class. But for academic inequalities, the 2015 PISA actually brings some good news: For science, at least, the U.S. fared better than any other country in reducing the effect of socioeconomic status on scores. Lower-income American students, it seems, are doing better on the science test. (Achievement gap data was not reported for math and reading.)

So improving U.S. education may require increasing attention to those students who need more resources to learn — rather than an internationally motivated overhaul of our math lessons.

Source*

Related Topics:

Common Core Free 10-year-old Math Genius is in College*

One Mother Shows How 2012 Top Maths Students Fail in Common Core Maths*

First Woman to Win the World’s Top Mathematics Prize ‘Fields Medal’ is Iranian*

Against the Odds: Girl from Gaza Takes 1st International Math Prize*

School Teacher Tells Students to Deny God Is Real or Receive Failing Grade*

Obama and GOP Unleash “Community Schools” to Replace Parents*

Maryland Schools ban Thousands of Students without Government-mandated Vaccinations*

States Take a Stand against the Increasing Centralization of Education*

U.S: Education Standards Fall as Scores Drop

Start Them Young: Reviving the Proletariat

The New Dumbness

The Scientific Management of Children*

Aged U.S. Hawks Planning for Iran at Adelson Backed Conference*

Aged U.S. Hawks Planning for Iran at Adelson Backed Conference*

The event headlined by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Sen. Joe Lieberman saw calls to “restore coercion” against Iran, with several figures advocating that the U.S. accept the limits of sanctions alone by sinking Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

By Jason Ditz

The Future of Iran Policy conference was attended by many of the same figures who have been advocating for with Iran for several years. Here Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, center and former Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., right, arrive on stage at a town hall meeting at the 3 West Club to launch Graham’s “No Nukes for Iran” tour Monday, July 20, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)

 

United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), an organization packed to the gills with a bipartisan who’s who of hawkish figures, held an event on the “Future of Iran Policy” in Washington DC. Unsurprising, given the list of attendees, the future they envision is war, and lots of it.

The event headlined by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R – FL) and former Sen. Joe Lieberman saw calls to “restore coercion” against Iran, with several figures advocating that the U.S. accept the limits of sanctions alone by sinking Iranian naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.

This call, pushed by Lieberman and Foundation for Defense of Democracies head Mark Dubowitz, who sought to parlay those intermittent events in which the U.S. warships parked off Iran’s coast complain Iran’s boats, inside Iran’s territorial waters, are “too close” by simply attacking and sinking those boats at every opportunity.

It’s not restricted just to Iran’s Navy, however, as Dubowitz also noted that Israel is able to attack Syrian military targets within Syria with relative impunity, and that therefore the U.S. could just as easily start unilaterally attacking Iranian military forces who are in the country to fight ISIS.

Ros-Lehtinen suggested that while the U.S. is carrying out this overt war against Iran, they could also dramatically escalate sanctions against them, targeting entire sectors of the Iranian economy and re-imposing the sanctions the U.S. lifted under the P5+1 nuclear deal as soon as President-elect Donald Trump gets into office

UANI first made a name for itself pressuring U.S. corporations to sign a pledge to never do business with Iran, and since the P5+1 deal lifted international sanctions has been inundating companies in nations like France with threats of an American boycott if they sign contracts with Iran.

The group has been described as primarily funded by Sheldon Adelson and Thomas Kaplan, and has also received legal support from the Obama Administration, as in 2014 when the Justice Department ordered a judge to cancel a defamation suit by a Greek shipper against UANI on “state secrets” grounds. This was the first time in history that a case not directly involving the U.S. government or a defense contractor was ended because of the state secrets privilege.

Source*

Related Topics:

What Really Happened When Iran Captured Two American Vessels*

Entrapment: Iran Lifting Sanctions and Coming Betrayal*

British Military Expert, Israel Must Strike Iran – On Its Own*

Whoever Controls Eurasia Controls the World*

British Government Killed 10 Million Iranians In 1919*

Iran Files Complaint against Bankrupt U.S. Theft of Funds*

U.S. Fires Captain Detained by Iran in January*

Washington won’t Accept Syrian Defeat by Iran and Russia*

True To Form U. S. not meeting commitments under Iranian deal Says Judge*

Dallas Pension System Suspends Withdrawals*

Dallas Pension System Suspends Withdrawals*

By Tyler Durden

Two days after the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, filed a lawsuit against the Dallas Police and Fire Pension system to block withdrawals, which he referred to as a “run on the bank” of an “insolvent” pension system in “financial crisis, the Pension’s board has finally taken steps to halt further withdrawals.  Of course, this delayed action has come only after $500 million in deposits have been withdrawn since just August.

According to the Dallas Daily News, an incremental $154mm in withdrawal requests were pending at the time the decision was made earlier today.

The Dallas Police and Fire Pension System’s Board of Trustees suspended lump-sum withdrawals from the pension fund Thursday, staving off a possible restraining order and stopping $154 million in withdrawal requests.

The system was set to pay out the weekly requests Friday. Pension officials said allowing the withdrawals would leave them without the liquid reserves required to sustain $2.1 billion fund.

“Our situation is currently critical, and we took action,” Board chairman Sam Friar said.

While Dallas citizens cheered the decision, even opponents of the Mayor’s admitted that the redemptions had to be halted if the city had any chance of saving the pension system from insolvency.

Rawlings on Thursday afternoon told a crowd gathered at a Dallas Regional Chamber that “the bleeding has stopped. We can turn this ship around.”

The crowd responded with cheers after the mayor’s announcement of the board’s decision.

At the pension board meeting, the mood was more sombre.

Council member Scott Griggs said he couldn’t let the $154 million “go out the door” on Friday.

His council colleague, Philip Kingston, a board trustee, said the mayor “unquestionably” forced the pension board’s hand. He said Thursday was “the worst day I’ve had in public office.”

“Unfortunately, financially, this had to happen,” he said.

The fund has about $729 million in liquid assets. It needs to keep about $600 million on hand, meaning the restrictions could have been coming at some point even without the mayor’s actions. The withdrawal requests this week alone would have meant the fund would dip below that level.

Of course, not everyone was happy with the decision as at least one retired police officer threatened a lawsuit to force the fund to honor redemption requests while another declared that Mayor Rawlings had “successfully screwed over the retirees, the firefighters and the police officers.”

One retired police sergeant, Pete Bailey, suggested a lawsuit could be in the offing if the system didn’t pay out the requests that were made Tuesday. Friar understood that they might deal with more litigation.

“We may just have to deal with that, but that’s what the board decides,” Friar said.

“We acted in the best interest of the pension fund today.”

Retired Dallas police officer Jerry Rhodes, a pension meeting fixture, said he believed the board did what it had to do. Then he sarcastically lauded Rawlings.

“Merry Christmas, mayor,” he said. “Hopefully you have a good Christmas because you have successfully screwed over the retirees, the firefighters and the police officers.”

Perhaps future ponzi schemes pension systems will take note of Dallas’ current situation prior to guaranteeing 8% returns on retirees’ pension balances.  Who could have ever guessed that a decision like that could have backfired so badly?

For those who missed it, here is what we recently posted after Mayor Rawlings sued to halt pension withdrawals.

Last week, Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings sent a scathing letter to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension (DPFP) Board demanded that withdrawals be halted immediately until the “solvency and actuarial soundness of the Pension System is restored.”  That said, the Mayor’s request was seemingly ignored as he has now filed a lawsuit with the Dallas District Court to force the pension board to halt withdrawals amid a “run on the bank.”

Within the suit, Rawlings notes that $500 million in lump-sum withdrawals have been made from the DPFP since August 2016 with $80 million of that amount being withdrawn in the first 2 weeks of November alone.  The suit continues on to allege that “this mass exodus of DROP funds amounts to a “run on the bank” and is exacerbating the financial peril of the Pension System as a whole.”

In performing these ministerial duties, the Board has a duty to ensure that programs, such as the Pension System’s optional Deferred Retirement Option Plan (“DROP”), which is not a constitutionally protected benefit (or “benefit” at all), do not impair or reduce the Pension System’s core constitutionally protected benefits, e.g., service retirement benefits. The Board is willfully failing to perform these ministerial duties.

The Pension System, which the Board oversees, is in the midst of a financial crisis. In early 2016, the Board was warned by its own actuary that absent radical change, the Pension System would become insolvent within 15 years—irrevocably eradicating the constitutionally protected service retirement benefits (and other constitutionally protected benefits) of police and firefighter personnel of the City and their beneficiaries.

Critically, this 15-year projection of insolvency was based upon two overly optimistic assumptions that the Board has now known to be incorrect for several months. First, the actuary assumed that the Pension System’s $2.7 billion in assets would remain stable, even though approximately 56% of these assets were composed of optional DROP funds, which have historically been permitted to be withdrawn in lump-sums upon demand (even though this option was used infrequently before this year). Second, the actuary assumed that the Pension System would achieve its targeted 7.25% return or more on its investments for the next 15 years.

Publication of this looming insolvency scenario prompted some DROP Participants to withdraw their DROP funds in lump-sum, which created a “snowball”effect, leading a staggering number of other DROP Participants to withdraw nearly $500 million in optional lump-sum DROP funds from the Pension System from August 13, 2016 to present. Over $80 million of these lump-sum DROP withdrawals have occurred within the first two weeks of November 2016 alone. Over this three-month time period, the Board has knowingly allowed DROP funds to continue to be withdrawn at record levels even though it is aware that doing so is irreparably harming the Pension System’s solvency and liquidity.

Lump-sum DROP withdrawals for 2016 are now on pace to be over 15 times higher than their historical average. This mass exodus of DROP funds amounts to a “run on the bank” and is exacerbating the financial peril of the Pension System as a whole.

The DPFP controversy comes as hundreds of police and firefighters have poured millions into “DROP” accounts in which they were guaranteed exorbitant returns of 8% while the pension board has proposed a $1 billion bailout from the city of Dallas.

The city estimates that, as of November, 517 police and firefighters have DROP accounts containing more than $1 million. One, belonging to an unnamed first responder, has $4.3 million in it, city figures show. On average, the city estimates that the average DROP account contains nearly $600,000.

The controversy all comes at a time when the board has asked the cash-strapped city for a bailout over $1 billion. The board’s position is that they legally can’t stop the withdrawals, but the mayor disagrees.

Of course, this all begs the question of whether the Dallas Police and Fire Pension will be the first pension ponzi to burst?

Here is the full lawsuit filed by Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings:

Source*

Related Topics:

U.S. Government Admits Social Security Going Bankrupt*

Not Only French Workers Protest Attacks on Pensions*

The U.S. is At the Centre Of The Global Economic Meltdown*

Syrian Army Takes Control of 93% of Aleppo’s Territory*

Syrian Army Takes Control of 93% of Aleppo’s Territory*

By Ivan Yakovlev

The Syrian army has gained control of 93% of Aleppo’s territory, with 52 neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city liberated, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, said on Friday.

“The government forces and militia units continue the operation to liberate Aleppo’s eastern districts from terrorists,” he said.

“After a successful offensive, 52 neighborhoods in east Aleppo have been recaptured from militants. In the past four days alone, the area held by gunmen has decreased by one-third. The Syrian army now controls 93% of the city’s territory,” he said.

These results have been achieved by the Syrian army’s ground forces. Russian and Syrian aircraft have not been used in the Aleppo area since October 18, Rudskoi stressed.

“Dozens of tonnes of humanitarian aid are delivered to liberated districts daily, the social infrastructure is being restored, and people get medical assistance,” he added.

More than 1,000 militants have voluntarily left Syria’s Aleppo and most of them have been amnestied, Rudskoy said.

“In total, 1,096 militants have left Aleppo voluntarily, 953 of them have been amnestied,” Rudskoy said.

“The Syrian government is fully meeting commitments on returning participants of illegal armed groups to peaceful life,” he added.

The Russian Centre for Reconciliation of Opposing Parties will further help ensure security of the withdrawal of civilians and representatives of various NGOs from Aleppo’s areas seized by the militants, Rudskoy said.

Over the past 24 hours, more than 10,500 people, including over 4,000 children, have been taken from the Aleppo areas controlled by militants. Thirty militants in Aleppo agreed to lay down weapons and gave themselves up to Syrian troops.

Source*

Related Topics:

Russia and China Veto Phony Aleppo Ceasefire U.N. Security Council Resolution*

Syrian Army Liberates Northern Part of Aleppo City, Delivers Devastating Blow to Terrorists*

Syrian Soldier Breaks Down In Tears Upon Reunification With His Family in Aleppo*

Syrian Air Strikes on Turkish Military in Northern Aleppo*

Samples Confirm ‘Moderate’ Terrorists Used Chemicals in Southwest Aleppo*

Syrian Catholics Denounce Western Media Biased Reporting on Aleppo*

‘I would Rather be in Aleppo’ than in the U.K.*

U.K. – U.S. Responds to Aleppo Siege with More Sanctions against Syrian Civilians*

U.S. Air Force Accidentally Bombs own ‘Rebels’ in Aleppo*