Article 43

 

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Welcome

Welcome to article43.com - a memorial to the layed off workers of (PRE SBC MERGER) AT&T, and the disappearing MIDDLE CLASS citizens of America.  It is NOT endorsed or affiliated with AT&T or the CWA in any way.

This sticky post was written the day we appeared on the internet in 2004.

In addition to INFORMATION, resources and opinion for former AT&T workers DEALING WITH the EFFECTS OF LAYOFF and looking for meaningful employment, some articles here are meant to bring into awareness the LARGER PICTURE of corporate dominance of the UNITED STATES’ political and economic policies which brazenly DISREGARDS, disrespects and EXPLOITS worker, citizen and HUMAN RIGHTS under masks like FREE TRADE and the PATRIOT ACT - resulting in a return to a society of very rich and very poor dominated by a few very rich and powerful - whose voices are anything but - for the people. If left UNCHALLENGED, the self-serving interests of those in control may result in the end of DEMOCRACY, the end of the middle class, irreversible ENVIRONMENTAL damage to the planet, and widespread global poverty brought on by exploitation and supression of the voices of common people EVERYWHERE, while the United States turns into a REINCARNATION of the ROMAN EMPIRE.  Author Thom Hartmann shares some history and outlines some basic steps to return our country to “The People” in his two articles TEN STEPS TO RETURN TO DEMOCRACY and SAVING THE MIDDLE CLASS. I support CERNIG’S idea for a new POLITICAL MOVEMENT - if not a revolution to cleanse our country of the filth ruling it - as we EVOLVE into a GLOBAL community - assuming we learn the THE LESSONS OF OUR TIME and don’t DESTROY CIVILIZATION first.

Everything here can be viewed anonymously.  Inserting or commenting on articles requires a free user account (for former AT&T employees with a real, non throw-away, email address.) Requests to the new user registration page are redirected to BLOGGED DOT COM’S site because most new signups I get are from COMMENT SPAMMERS and their ilk, so if you want to contribute, contact me through email, phone, or some other way.

There’s no third-party scripts here like privacy-eroding WEB COUNTERS, hidden datamining widgets like Pay-Pal donation boxes, or AMAZON DOT COM tracking stuff.  The RSS feeds are pulled by the server, and have no relation to anything you may be doing here.  Standard Apache WEB LOGS of info like IP, and pages visited are rotated every few days, and used internally to check the web server’s performance.  Logs of suspicious activity may be shared with law enforcement, or other ISPs, to deal with troublemakers.  Nothing here is for sale, and donations are not solicited.

If you get an email that claims to be from somebody here that’s anything but a request to post your article, or report suspicious activity (like logs sent to an ISP to report an attack) - it’s SPAM. I do not, and will not - ever - join the junk mail sender community. There are no mechanisms to prevent anyone from forging anyone elses email address in a “from” or “reply-to” mail header. For those of us whose email addresses are fraudently used, the best we can do is filter out NDR REPORTS.

Per U.S.C. COPYRIGHT LAW - TITLE 17, SECTION 107, this not-for-profit site may reproduce copyrighted material not specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such articles will either have a web link to the source, home page, and/or show credit to the author.  If yours is here and you have a problem with that, send me an EMAIL, and I’ll take it off. Stuff I wrote carries a CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE permitting non-commercial sharing. In addition, this site’s owner forbids insertion and injecting data of any kind - especially advertisements - into ours by any person or entity.  Should you see a commercial ad that looks like it’s from here, please report it by sending me a tcpdump and/or screenshot in an EMAIL, then READ UP about how the PARTNERING OF INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS and companies like NEBUAD are DESTROYING INTERNET PRIVACY

Resumes of layed off AT&T workers are posted for free HERE.

Information on the Pension Class Action Lawsuit against AT&T is HERE.  More pension-related articles are HERE.

Links to some Telecom companies’ career pages are HERE.

Click HERE to learn a little about Article 43 and why I loathe the CWA.
Click HERE or HERE to learn what the CWA did when given a chance to do the right thing.
Click HERE for a glimpse of undemocratic and hypocritical CWA practices.
Click HERE for an article on Corporate Unionism.
Click HERE for an article of AFL-CIO’s undemocratic history.

If you’re looking for telco nostalgia, you won’t find it here.  Check out THE CENTRAL OFFICE, BELL SYSTEM MEMORIAL, MUSEUM OF COMMUNICATIONS, TELEPHONE TRIBUTE, and THE READING WORKS websites instead.

This site can disappear anytime if I run out of money to pay for luxuries like food, health care, or internet service.

Discernment of truth is left to the reader - whose encouraged to seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as possible - and pass them through his/her own filters - before believing anything.

...the Devil is just one man with a plan, but evil, true evil, is a collaboration of men…
- Fox Mulder, X Files

No matter how big the lie; repeat it often enough and the masses will regard it as the truth.
- John F. Kennedy

Today my country, your country and the Earth face a corporate holocaust against human and Earthly rights. I call their efforts a holocaust because when giant corporations wield human rights backed by constitutions and the law (and therefore enforced by police, the courts, and armed forces) and sanctioned by cultural norms, the rights of people, other species and the Earth are annihilated.
- Richard L. Grossman

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
- Albert Einstein

He who is not angry when there is just cause for anger is immoral. Why? Because anger looks to the good of justice. And if you can live amid injustice without anger, you are immoral as well as unjust.
- Aquinas

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.
- Bishop Desmond Tutu

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.
- Martin Luther King Jr

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

If we do not hang together, we will surely hang separately.
- Benjamin Franklin

We must be prepared to make heroic sacrifices for the cause of peace that we make ungrudgingly for the cause of war.
- Albert Einstein

Solidarity has always been key to political and economic advance by working families, and it is key to mastering the politics of globalization.
- Thomas Palley

As we head into the next depression, fueled by selfish corporate greed, and a corrupt, SOCIOPATHIC US government, MIKE WHITNEY wrote a solution in 2007 that makes a lot of sense to me :

The impending credit crisis cant be avoided, but it could be mitigated by taking radical steps to soften the blow. Emergency changes to the federal tax code could put more money in the hands of maxed-out consumers and keep the economy sputtering along while efforts are made to curtail the ruinous trade deficit. We should eliminate the Social Security tax for any couple making under $60, 000 per year and restore the 1953 tax-brackets for Americans highest earners so that the upper 1%-- who have benefited the most from the years of prosperity---will be required to pay 93% of all earnings above the first $1 million income. At the same time, corporate profits should be taxed at a flat 35%, while capital gains should be locked in at 35%. No loopholes. No exceptions.

Congress should initiate a program of incentives for reopening American factories and provide generous sufbsidies to rebuild US manufacturing. The emphasis should be on reestablishing a competitive market for US exports while developing the new technologies which will address the imminent problems of environmental degradation, global warming, peak oil, overpopulation, resource scarcity, disease and food production. Off-shoring of American jobs should be penalized by tariffs levied against the offending industries.

The oil and natural gas industries should be nationalized with the profits earmarked for vocational training, free college tuition, universal health care and improvements to then nations infrastructure.

Posted by Admin on 09/05/04 •

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Screwed By Charter

image cable company monopoly

I got a home security system managed by (Charter) the local cable company.

For the service I had to buy their ZIGBEE sensors up front, and pay a monthly fee for monitoring.

The system worked well for years.

What I’m just learning now - is the sensors are firmware locked to Charter’s system, and can’t be reused by any other monitoring company.

Charter is GETTING OUT OF THE HOME SECURITY BUSINESS leaving me with over a thousand dollars of perfectly good sensors that will soon be worthless and thrown in the garbage.

---

Spectrum Kills Home Security Business, Refuses Refunds for Owners of Now-Worthless Equipment

By Dell Cameron
Gizmodo
January 9, 2020

Spectrum customers who are also users of the company’s home security service are about a month away from being left with a pile of useless equipment that in many cases cost them hundreds of dollars.

On February 5, Spectrum will NO LONGER SUPPORT customers who’ve purchased its Spectrum Home Security equipment. None of the devices the cameras, motion sensors, smart thermostats, and in-home touchscreens - can be paired with other existing services. In a few weeks, itll all be worthless junk.

While some of the devices may continue to function on their own, customers will soon no longer be able to access them using their mobile devices, which is sort of the whole point of owning a smart device.

On Friday, California’s KSBY News INTERVIEWED one Spectrum customer who said that he’d spent around $900 installing cameras and sensors in and around his Cheviot Hills home. That the equipment is soon-to-be worthless isn’t even the worst part. Spectrum is also running off with his money.

The customer reportedly contacted the company about converting the cost of his investment into credit toward his phone or cable bill. The company declined, he said.

Spectrum is owned by Charter Communications, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the U.S. It acquired the home security business in 2016 during its merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Charter discontinued the marketing of the home security products shortly after the merger, indicating its plan to exit the business has been in the works for some time. Nevertheless, Spectrum customers were only notified that the service would be ended last month.

A Charter official told Gizmodo on Friday that the company was aiming for a smooth “transition” and claimed only a small percentage of customers would be affected.

Spectrum is hoping to smooth things over with exclusive “offers” from other home security companies, including Ring, which is owned by Amazon. The Ring deal includes a free alarm security kit, but will require Spectrum customers to purchase a year of professional monitoring at a cost of $340.

Rings kit INCLUDES an alarm base station, keypad, three contact sensors, one motion sensor, and one range extender, plus installation at no additional charge. The deal does not include security cameras, but customers will receive 25 percent off any Ring camera or doorbell over $100.

Spectrum is offering a similar deal through Abobe at a cost of $179 per year. The deal INCLUDES one gateway, three mini-door or windowsensors, one motion sensor, a key fob, a keypad, a streaming camera, and a “Secured by Abode” sticker.

The offers notwithstanding, many Spectrum Home Security users will soon find themselves out hundreds of dollars. Spectrum apparently believes it can afford to aggravate these customers, some if not most of whom will have no choice but to continue paying Spectrum for internet service.

Adding insult to injury, Charter and other major internet service providers have enjoyed a massive windfall under the Trump administration thanks to the sweeping 2017 tax breaks passed by the 115th Congress, not to mention the deregulatory efforts of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under Chairman Ajit Pai.

Since 2017, the FCC has worked to roll back numerous consumer protections implemented under the former administration, arguing that a “light-touch” regulatory regime will spur new investments, jobs, and inevitably lower costs for consumers. Those promises, however, have largely failed to materialize.

AT&T, one of the country’s largest ISPs, enjoyed a round of positive press for doling out $1,000 bonuses to employees after receiving a $3 billion tax break, is now engaged in sweeping layoffs and is reportedly forcing American workers to train their own foreign replacements.

The FCC did not respond to a request for comment.

SOURCE

I called the folks at Charter and asked them to unlock the sensors.

The representative may have flat out lied to me.  He said they are reusable by any zigbee aware system, and all I need to do is pop out the battery or wait until service is turned off.  I called a week later and told the same thing by a different rep.

I also called at least a dozen alarm companies, some local and and few of the big companies like ADT to take over monitoring.

They all say the sensors are unusable by anyone but Charter, and I need to buy a whole new system.

Next I instant messaged the Charter folks over at Twitter.

First they dismissed the issue not unlike the phone reps did, then reminded me how much they love their customers:

Me -> @Ask_Spectrum
I understand you guys are getting out of the home security business.  I called a bunch of alarm companies including the big guys like adt and brinks to take over monitoring. They all say they can’t because the sensors are locked to your system.  The folks at STOP THE CAP say the same thing.

I called your company and the rep tells me that’s not correct, that any company can reuse them.  I have over a thousand dollars invested in these sensors. 

Whose telling the truth here?

Ask Spectrum
Thank you for contacting us today. 
As far as another company accepting our equipment, we have no control over that. 
The agent misspoke as it is up to the third party companies whether or not they will utilize our equipment or not. ^JK

Me
The question is are the sensors vendor locked, yes or no?

Ask Spectrum
We don’t have that information. 
It is the choice of the vendor if they want to use them or not. ^JK

Me
It’s all over the internet that Charter is discontinuing home security and leaving customers with bricked sensors because they’re firmware locked to your system so they can’t be reused. 
I called Charter asking to unlock them.  That didn’t work. 
So I’m asking you to please unlock them.

Ask Spectrum
Unfortunately, you would need new equipment.
We sincerely apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

Me
What’s your company’s reason for refusing to unlock them for reuse?

Ask Spectrum
Due to security reasons, our devices are non transferrable to other companies.
This previously helped us keep our service as secure as possible. -AZ

Me
Will you please buy them back?

Ask Spectrum
We will not be buying back any purchased equipment.
We apologize for this inconvenience. -AZ

Me
How about we split the bill 50/50 for the price paid?
Your half can be an account credit?

Ask Spectrum
We are not providing credit for any purchased equipment. -AZ

This is another expression of capitalism at its worst.

Only in America can companies be so brazen, arrogant and get away with stuff like this.

A Slashdot poster POINTS OUT:

No idea. I’ve not read their contracts. But it’s a complicated case. Not all things need to be written in a contract. For example if a contract is completely one sided it can be ruled invalid even if both parties sign. Such would be the case if I bought something with the expectation to have it for a reasonable amount of time, only to have it killed within a few months and not get my money back.

Many countries don’t just rely on contracts, but rather codify this in law. E.g. the Sales of Goods Act in Australia would require something to be fit for purpose or require redress. The classic case that this law is based on was someone (don’t ask me to remember the exact details, I did law 20 years ago) who bought carpet for their office only to have it wear through after 6 months of rolling on it with chairs. They were entitled to get the entire carpet replaced. Or Microsoft’s Xbox365 with it’s red ring. There’s a reason they were forced to replace these units in Australia regardless of if they were out of warranty or not as the expectation for fit for purpose was that a console lasts until the following model is released.

In Europe not only do devices come with 2 year warranty but they need to remain functional, and spare parts available from 2 years from purchase or the customer can get a full refund.

These kinds of consumer protection laws are missing in America, but I’m wondering what a good lawyer could argue.

What other buyer beware lessons are learned here?

Charter also has a mobile phone service.  You can BUY AN IPHONE FROM THEM, and pay monthly for service.

No thanks.  I’m AFRAID they can just as easily pull the same stunt with the phone so it can’t be used by another carrier, if/when they decide to pull out of THAT BUSINESS

Fool me one shame on me.
Fool me twice shame on you.

And - about the cloud:

Slashdot AGAIN:

There’s a good side to this. We need several high profile stories like this. Best buy killed their cloud service for insignia products last fall and now this.

Maybe a few more repeats and enough people getting burned this way and people will start to understand how stupid it is to buy hardware that relies on somebody’s cloud service that can be shut down at any time.

To add insult to injury - after they’re done screwing customers with this move, THEY MAY:

Dubbed “Spectrum Home Security powered by Ring,” the company would charge a $190 up-front cost for equipment, feature DIY installation and carry a $10 per month monitoring solution fee

AND:

it remains active in other aspects of the smart home. Last November, Charter announced it had adopted OpenSync, an open source framework originating with Plume, that is being used to power a new in-home WiFi management service initially introduced in Austin, Texas. Charter has also teamed with (and invested in) Cujo AI on products that will center on in-home network monitoring and security services

I’m sure they realize that no way, no how - will I sign up for their replacement service. 

Or an iPhone.

Or whatever else they decide to market.

What really burns me up after this is Charter’s a monopoly for high speed internet service in my town, so even though I’m dying to take that business elsewhere - I can’t.

Damn.

Government Slaves Article

Channel 7 Syracuse Video

Help me out and write the Charter big shots

READ MORE...
Posted by Elvis on 01/12/20 •
Section Dying America
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Saturday, January 04, 2020

The Awakening Part 8

image the end is near

How Long Will It Take For The US To Collapse?

By Brandon Smith
Activist Post
January 2, 2020

There are a multitude of false assumptions out there on what the collapse of a nation or empire looks like. Modern-day Americans have never experienced this type of event, only peripheral crises and crashes. Thanks to Hollywood, many in the public are under the delusion that a collapse is an overnight affair. They think that such a thing is impossible in their lifetimes, and if it did happen, it would happen as it does in the movies they would simply wake up one morning and find the world on fire. Historically speaking, this is not how it works. The collapse of an empire is a process, not an event.

This is not to say that there are not moments of shock and awe; there certainly are. As we witnessed during the Great Depression, or in 2008, the system can only be propped up artificially for so long before the bubble pops. In past instances of central bank intervention, the windowfor manipulation is around ten years between events, give or take a couple of years. For the average person, a decade might seem like a long time. For the banking elites behind the degradation of our society and economy, a decade is a blink of an eye.

In the meantime, danger signals abound as those analysts aware of the situation try to warn the populace of the underlying decay of the system and where it will inevitably lead. Economists like Ludwig Von Mises foresaw the collapse of the German Mark and predicted the Great Depression; almost no one listened until it was too late. Multiple alternative economists predicted the credit crisis and derivatives crash of 2008; and almost no one listened until it was too late. People refused to listen because their normalcy bias took control of their ability to reason and accept the facts in front of them.

There are a number factors that cause mass blindness to economic and social reality. First and foremost, establishment elites deliberately create the illusion of prosperity by rigging economic data to the upside. In almost every case of economic crisis or geopolitical disaster, the public is conditioned to believe they are in the midst of a financial boom or era of peace. They are encouraged to ignore fundamental warning signs in favor of foolish faith in the system. Those people that try to break the apathy and expose the truth are called chicken little and doom mongers.

In the minds of the cheerful lemmings a collapse is something very obvious; they think they would know it when they saw it. It’s like trying to teach a blind person about colors; it’s not impossible, but its very difficult to get all these Helen Kellers to understand that what they perceive is not the whole reality. There’s a vast world hidden from them and they have no concept of how to observe it.

Crash events are like stages in the process of collapse; they create moments of clarity for the blind. However, they are also often engineered to benefit the establishment. Theres a reason why the elites put so much energy into hiding the real data on the state of the economy, and it’s not because they are trying to keep the system from faltering by using sheer public ignorance. Rather, a crash event is a tool, a means to an end. As Congressman Charles Lindbergh Sr. warned after the panic of 1920:

Under the Federal Reserve Act, panics are scientifically created; the present panic is the first scientifically created one, worked out as we figure a mathematical problem

Central bankers and their cohorts manipulate economic data and promote the false notion of a boom before almost every major crash because they WANT to ambush the populace. They WANT to create panic, and then use it to their advantage as they rebuild and mutate the system into something unrecognizable only decades ago. Each consecutive crash contributes to the collapse of the whole, until eventually the society we once had is barely a distant memory.

This process can take decades, and the US has been subject to it for quite some time now. Once again in 2019 we are seeing the lie of an economic boom being perpetuated in the mainstream. The public was growing too aware of the danger and had to be subdued. More specifically, conservatives were growing too aware. The sad thing is that the boom propaganda is most prominent today among conservatives, who are desperately trying to ignore the fundamentals in an attempt to defend the Trump Administration.

The same people who were pointing out the economic bubble under Obama are now denying its existence under Trump. Trump himself argued that the markets were a dangerous economic fraud created by the Federal Reserve during his campaign, yet once he was in office he flip-flopped and started taking full credit for the bubble. What is mind boggling to me is that many people, even in the liberty movement, still choose to dismiss this behavior in favor of worshiping Trump as some kind of hero on a white horse.

This only reinforces my theory that the system is due for another major engineered crash event, and that the ongoing collapse of the US is soon to accelerate. Each case of economic calamity in modern history was preceded by peak delusional optimism and peak greed. When the people traditionally most vigilant against crisis suddenly capitulate and claim victory, this is when reality strikes hardest. This is when the establishment triggers yet another controlled demolition.

In order to determine how long an empire will last, one has to take into account the agenda of the elites that control its institutions. As long as they are in key positions of power within the system and as long as they can inject their own puppet politicians, they will have the ability to influence the collapse timeline of that system.

Can they prolong and stave off crisis? Yes, for a short while. However, once the machine of a crash has been set in motion the best they can do is slow down the Titanic; they cannot change its path towards the iceberg. And frankly, at this point why would they? I hear it argued often that the elites are going to “keep the plates spinning” on the economy and that they don’t want to lose their “golden goose” in the US economy. This reveals an naivety among skeptics of the true agenda.

Firstly, the elites have a highly useful political puppet in the form of Donald Trump; he is useful in that he inspires sharp national division, and, he is a self-proclaimed conservative champion and nationalist. If the elites did not trigger a crash under Trump, then this would give the public the impression that conservative ideals and national sovereignty works. This is the opposite of what they want. Why would globalists that want the erasure of nation states and the creation of a centralized socialist Utopia seek to make conservatives and nationalists look good? Well, they wouldn’t.

The only concern of the banks is that they do not take the blame as their engineered collapse of the old world order hits the public with increasingly painful consequences. These consequences are already becoming visible.

The next major crash has begun in the form of plunging fundamentals, and far too many conservatives are placing their heads in the sand for the selfish sake of proving the political left wrong. Declines in US manufacturing, US freight, global exports and imports, mass closures in US retail, as well as all time highs in consumer debt, corporate debt and national debt are being shrugged off and rationalized as nothing more than hiccups in an otherwise booming economy. The Fed’s repo market purchases, barely keeping up with demand from liquidity starved corporations are also not being taken seriously.

Conservatives and analysts are going to have to forget about supporting Trump, a Rothschild owned proxy, and start acknowledging reality once again. The only question now is, will the elites allow the crash to spread further into mainstreet and strike markets before or after the 2020 election?

As noted above, to predict the timing of a collapse in a nation or empire, one has to examine the agendas of the elites that dominate its institutions. We can gain some sense of timing from the public admissions of globalist organizations like the IMF and the UN. Each has announced the year 2030 as a target date for the finalization of globalization, a cashless society and sustainability goals. This means that the elites have around ten years to create a crisis and then solve that crisis with globalism.

Ten years is a narrow window, and if the elites intend for conservatives to take the blame for the next crash, they will have to initiate it soon. They may not have a choice anyway, as the chain of dominoes was already been set in motion by the Fed in 2018 with its liquidity tightening policies.

We can also gauge timing of a collapse to a point by understanding the common tactics the establishment uses to hide what they are doing.  Generally, when a collapse is about to accelerate the elites use crisis events as cover to distract the public and produce scapegoats.  In my article Globalists Only Need One More Major Event To Finish Sabotaging The Economy, I outlined three potential distractions that could be used in the near term, and if any of these events took place, then people should watch for the collapse to move faster.  Two of these events now appear imminent:  The first being a war with Iran, and the second being a No Dealђ Brexit.

Finally, we can take into account the globalist need for a scapegoat, and it appears that conservatives and nationalists are their target for blame.  This leaves less than one year for a crisis event if Trump is intended to leave the White House in 2020, or less than four years if he is intended to stay in for a second term.  Keep in mind that A LOT can happen in a single year, and a second Trump term is certainly not guaranteed yet.

But why create a collapse in the first place?  Crash events allow the establishment to consolidate control over hard assets as poverty forces the population to sell what they have to survive. This poverty also creates fear, which makes the public malleable and easier to control. Each new crisis opens doors to political and social changes, changes which end in less freedom and more centralization. Collapse is a succession of crashes leading to a complete erasure of the original society. Its not a Mad Max event, it’s a hidden and insidious cancer that takes over the national body and warps it into a wretched form. The collapse is complete when the nation either breaks apart, or is so damaged for so long that no one can remember what it used to look like.

What we are witnessing today is the beginning of a new crash, and the final phases of a collapse of our way of life. The economic boom narrative among conservatives is a farce designed to trick us into complacency. The bubble that we warned about under the Obama Administration has been popped under the Trump Administration. Nothing has changed in the ten years since the 2008 crash except that the motivation for keeping the crash hidden is quickly disappearing.

Crashes are inevitable, but collapse is only possible when the public remains unprepared. Our civilization and its values are under attack, but they can only be destroyed if we stay apathetic to the threat and refuse to prepare for their defense.  We must adopt a philosophy of decentralization.  We need localized and self sufficient economies, as well as a return to localized production. Beyond that, we have to prepare for the eventuality of a fight.  The fate of the US economy has already been sealed, but the people who are destroying it can still be stopped before they use the collapse to force society into subservience.  We have to offer security, we have to offer alternatives to the new world order and we have to remove the globalist threat permanently.

Make no mistake, we are living in the midst of an epoch moment; the outcome of collapse depends on us and our reactions. This is not the task of the next generation, it is a task for our generation. We do not have another couple of decades to take the danger seriously. The plates are not spinning, they have already dropped.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/04/20 •
Section Revelations
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Friday, January 03, 2020

Bad Moon Rising Part 79 - Iran, What Next?

Tehran Promises ‘Forceful Revenge’ After Trump Orders the Assassination of Top Iranian Commander
Iran’s Supreme Leader warned of “harsh retaliation” after a U.S. airstrike killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

By David Gilbert
Vice
Jan 3 2020

American citizens have been warned to leave Iraq immediately after Iran vowed vengeance against the U.S. after President Donald Trump ordered the assassination of one of Tehrans top military commanders in a rocket attack at Baghdad International Airport.

The killing of General Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and a beloved figure across Iran, marks a significant escalation in the standoff between Tehran and Washington, and on Friday morning Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that a “harsh retaliation is waiting for the U.S.,” calling Soleimani the “international face of resistance.”

“A forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of the other martyrs last night on their hands,” Khamenei added. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said “Soleimani’s work in resisting the U.S. would continue and that the great nation of Iran will take revenge for this heinous crime.”

The Pentagon confirmed it conducted the airstrike and said Soleimani was killed because “he was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region.”

Experts now fear that the killing could ignite an already tense relationship between Iran and the U.S., which has deteriorated rapidly since President Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord.

“From Iran’s perspective, it is hard to imagine a more deliberately provocative act,” Robert Malley, the chief executive of the International Crisis Group, told the New York Times. “And it is hard to imagine that Iran will not retaliate in a highly aggressive manner.”

What happened?

In the early hours of Friday morning, Soleimani arrived at Baghdad International Airport on a flight from Syria, disembarked, and entered one of two cars waiting near the plane.

In the cars were three prominent members of the Iraqi militia, including Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, an Iraqi militia commander.

As the convoy was pulling out of the airport, close to the cargo area, it was struck by missiles fired by an American MQ-9 Reaper drone-fired missiles.

The airstrike instantly killed all five people in the cars. AP reports that Soleimani’s body was identified by the ring he wore.

Officials were able to pinpoint his location using a combination of top-secret information from informants, electronic intercepts, reconnaissance aircraft, and other surveillance.

The highly-classified mission was triggered by the death of an American contractor during a rocket attack by an Iranian-backed militia just after Christmas, a senior American official told the New York Times.

Who was Soleimani?

By the time of his death, the diminutive 62-year-old had achieved near-mythical status among his enemies, and he was idolized by Iranian hard-liners.

Soleimani began his rise to power following the 1979 Iran revolution, joining the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and conducting guerrilla-style attacks during the bloody Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s a style of warfare that would become the calling card of the Quds Force.

He also forged strong ties with Iraqגs majority-Shiite population during this time, which would help him when he sought to extend Tehrans influence outside of IranҒs borders.

By the late 1990s, he was put in charge of the elite Quds Force, and for the last two decades he has been behind virtually every operation conducted by Iranian intelligence and military forces.

American officials say Soleimani is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops during the Iraq War, as he provided advanced bombmaking equipment and training to Iraqi insurgents.

Soleimani orchestrated Irans proxy war across the Middle East, using militias in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon to extend TehranҒs influence.

Wherever you see Iranian activity, you see Qassem Soleimani, whether it is in Syria, whether it is in Iraq, whether it is in Yemen, he is there and it is the Quds Force, the organization which he leads, that I think is the principal threat as we look at this and the principal ones that are stoking this destabilizing activity,Ӕ General Joseph Votel, the then-commander of U.S. Central Command that oversees American military operations in the Middle East, said in 2018.

How is the world reacting?

As Khamenei announced the national mourning period, tens of thousands of Iranians filled the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities after Friday prayers chanting anti-U.S. slogans such as “Death to America.”

A massive crowd dressed in black gathered on the streets of Soleimanis hometown of Kerman to mourn the death of a man considered a national hero in Iran.

As news of an explosion at the Baghdad airport emerged and rumors of Soleimani’s death swirled on social media, Trump cryptically posted a grainy image of the American flag without comment.

The president has yet to publically comment on the assassination, but unsurprisingly, it has divided Congress along party lines.

Democrats have been quick to point out that the decision, which could trigger a full-scale war with Iran, was made without congressional approval.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said “the strike was carried out without the consultation of Congress” adding that “the attack could put the lives of American service members, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions.”

Republicans, however, were quick to defend Trump. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) said “Trump exercised admirable restraint while setting clear red lines & the consequences for crossing them.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted that many in the Middle East were celebrating Soleimanis death, posting a widely circulated video of Iraqis dancing in the street after hearing the news.

Former National Security Adviser and Iran hawk John Bolton was effusive in his praise of the assassination.

However, the remaining signatories to the 2015 nuclear pact have called for restraint from both sides.

FranceҒs deputy minister for foreign affairs, Amelie de Montchalin told a French radio station that we are waking up to a more dangerous world. Military escalations are always dangerous.Ӕ

Dominic Raab, the U.K. Foreign Secretary, said that further conflict is in none of our interests [and] we urge all parties to de-escalate.Ӕ

What happens next?

Many experts are warning that the attack on such an important figure in Irans leadership could trigger an all-out war in the region, pointing out that Tehran has already reacted violently to the White House campaign of ғmaximum pressure which includes the withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear pact and imposing crippling economic sanctions on the country.

IranԒs reaction to these measures has been attacking tankers in the Persian Gulf, and striking Saudi oil facilities.

U.S. officials told the New York Times that they are prepared for a wide range of retaliatory actions from Tehran, ranging from cyberattacks to terrorism against U.S. interests and allies.

On Friday morning, the U.S. Embassy in Iraq warned all U.S. citizens to leave the country immediately, leaving on flights if possible, or if not, to go to other countries via land though it didn’t specify which countries.

Keen to prevent a leadership vacuum that might undermine Irans response, Khamenei has wasted no time in appointing a successor to Soleimani, naming his deputy, Brigadier General Esmail Qaani, as the new commander of the Quds Force on Friday morning.

Any military retaliation by Iran against the U.S. would have repercussions not only for Tehran and Washington but for the entire Middle East.

“The Pentagon said it was carried out with the goal of deterring further Iranian attacks but in the short term, there is a very real possibility of retaliatory action by Iran that could reverberate across the region,” Naysan Rafati, a senior Iran analyst with the International Crisis Group, told the Washington Post.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/03/20 •
Section Bad Moon Rising
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Retirement Ripoff Sequel 2

image: retirement

‘It’s really over’: Corporate pensions head for extinction as nature of retirement plans changes

By Nathan Bomey
December 10, 2019
USA Today

The practice of companies sending monthly retirement checks to their former workers is headed for extinction, and remaining pension funds are in tough financial shape.

Nearly two-thirds of pension funds are considering dropping guaranteed benefits to new workers within the next five years, according to a human resources consulting firm that studied the matter.

Despite gains in the stock market this year, U.S. pension plans are near their worst financial state in two years, according to the new report by Mercer, which casts a spotlight on the escalating cost of past promises to employees.

Most U.S. companies no longer offer defined-benefit pensions, which typically provided guaranteed monthly payments to workers when they retired. But pension funds that still operate must gain in value to ensure they have enough to meet their obligations.

By late 2019, the average pension fund had 85% of the funds necessary to meet its obligations over time due largely to low interest rates, according to Mercer’s 2020 Defined Benefit Outlook.

The firm also reported that 63% of companies with defined-benefit pensions “are considering termination” of the plan within half a decade. That would mean the pensions would be closed off to future participants.

The report comes as corporate pensions continue to disappear.

General Electric announced in October that it would offer lump-sum pension buyouts to about 100,000 former U.S. employees who have not yet begun receiving their pensions.

The company, which has been facing pressure to bolster its finances, also announced plans to freeze pension benefits for about 20,700 salaried pensioners at current levels.

“In the bigger picture, GE is just going the way that most of the private sector in the United States has gone,” Alicia Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, said in a recent interview. “Its really over in the private sector. The question is, just when does the last plan close down?”

The number of pension plans offering defined benefits - which means the payouts are guaranteed plummeted by about 73% from 1986 to 2016, according to the Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration.

That’s due to a mix of reasons, including risk, costs, declining union power and the rise of 401(k)-style defined-contribution plans, which require workers to kick in their own funds for retirement investments, often with a company match.

SOURCE

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image: 401k bomb

Opinion: Recent surveys show sharp decline in retirement wealth for typical household

By Alicia H. Munnell
MarketWatch
January 2, 2020

In preparation for a recent presentation, I asked for data to documentthe increasing dependence on 401(k)s as opposed to traditional defined-benefit plans. One of the figures included total retirement wealth for households in the middle of the wealth distribution for five different cohorts.

I was stunned to see that retirement wealth, measured in 2016 dollars, had declined. That is, the wealth holdings for the late boomers (age 51 to 57) were actually lower than the wealth holdings for the mid boomers (age 57 to 63) at the same age .

Retirement wealth, which comes from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), includes:

1) Social Security;

2) employer-sponsored retirement plans (including defined-benefit plans);

3) non-defined-contribution financial wealth; and

4) housing wealth. Ages 51 to 56 were chosen because that is when the respondents in each new cohort enter the HRS, allowing the st

Even though the HRS is the gold standard for wealth and income data, the decline was so unexpected that I asked my colleague, Anqi Chen, to look at data from the Federal Reserves 2016 Survey of Consumer Finances. While the only data readily available were holdings in defined-contribution plans, the pattern was similar to that found in the HRS. The wealth holdings of the late boomers were below those of both the mid and early boomers, who are age 63 to 69.

This pattern of decline is distressing. It suggests that fewer households in the middle of the wealth distribution have 401(k) assets. Given the decline in Social Security replacement rates, an increasing number of households will be falling short.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 01/03/20 •
Section Pension Ripoff • Section Dying America
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