More Controversy Engulfs NY Times Shale Gas Reporting

NY Times building photoThis week the New York Times again ran a story calling into question the credibility of reporter Ian Urbina’s June 27th article, “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush,” which claims the quickly emerging shale gas industry is similar to a Ponzi scheme.

It appears Urbina crossed the line into sensational journalism with his baseless claims by failing to conduct proper background checks, and his tendency to overstate the credentials of anonymous sources. This problems with his reporting apparently have driven a wedge between Times editors trying to justify the story, and those concerned over the long-term repercussions for the paper.

Times Public Editor Arthur Brisbane has published two articles criticizing Urbina’s work; first calling into question his cited sources for their biases on the topic, and next pointing out the liberties taken with anonymous sources.  National editor Richard L. Berke and Adam Bryant, … Read More ➡

GE’s Immelt Blames at Home, Employs Abroad

Immelt Obama photoGeneral Electric announced this week it will relocate its X-ray business to Beijing in order to capitalize on the burgeoning Chinese health care market.

Bravo for them. Kudos. I’m sure it’s a smart business move for the company – just like not paying taxes in the U.S., rent seeking for “Green” subsidies and mandates, and reducing American jobs are also bottom-line wise.

But let’s please stop listening to GE CEO Jeffery Immelt (if he ever was really taken seriously), who is the head of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, whenever he tries to lecture other American corporations on how to conduct their businesses. His hypocrisy is astounding, as illustrated in a Wall Street Journal report about his visit to one of his own gas turbine factories in South Carolina just two weeks ago:

Mr. Immelt said the wage differential between the U.S. and China and India

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Treasury Losing Taxpayer Money on GM Market Timing Gamble

Wall Street casino photoThe latest reports from Reuters state that the US Treasury Department will wait until after September to sell its GM stake. Just why is Treasury gambling taxpayer money by trying to market time its exit of General Motors’ shares? The lock-up period for GM expired at the end of May. This was the earliest time that insiders (such as Treasury) involved in the GM IPO would be allowed to file to sell shares. At that time, GM shares were hovering around $31. Today’s price is closer to $28. Calculating the loss from late May to now on the taxpayers’ approximate 500 million shares, we come up with a loss of about $1.5 billion. What is leading the executive branch of our government to believe it has the right to play investment adviser and market timer for taxpayers on the GM gamble?

The idea of investing taxpayer money in equity markets … Read More ➡

Shafted Delphi Retirees Suing Treasury, Auto Task Force

GM UAW Delphi logosThe unprecedented intrusion of the executive branch of the US government into the American auto industry when the Obama Administration orchestrated the General Motors and Chrysler bankruptcy processes is now leading to unprecedented responses. Groups that were clearly discriminated against and had their rights subordinated to politically powerful unions may actually have a winnable case against our own government as lawsuits are being brought against the US Treasury Dept. and others.

The Delphi salaried retirees who saw their pension benefits disintegrate after the GM bankruptcy are now suing the US Treasury, the Auto Task Force, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and ex-Auto Task Force heads, Steve Rattner and Ron Bloom. The first hearing against the Treasury Dept. and others will occur on August 17th. The basis of the suit is that the Obama Administration wrongfully used taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers in the GM bankruptcy. I had … Read More ➡

Walmart ‘Sustainability’ Reaches New Heights of Absurdity

Mike Duke photoBack in April some on the Internet tried (and failed) to argue that Walmart had abandoned political correctness – especially with regard to environmental causes – because the company had suffered seven (now eight) straight quarters of same store sales declines. NLPC showed that if anything, Walmart was more committed to “sustainability” than ever.

Those priorities, under CEO Mike Duke (in photo), may have reached absurd new heights last week as the world’s largest retailer announced a partnership with utility giant American Electric Power to give away electricity. That’s right – free electricity! But as you might imagine, there’s a catch.

Turns out you need to possess one of those hard-to-find new electric vehicles produced by General Motors (Chevy Volt) or Nissan (the Leaf). As part of what Walmart calls its “Sustainability 360” initiative, the superstore chain and AEP announced the placement of Read More ➡

GM’s Chevy Volt ‘Bait and Switch’

Volt photoAccording to a report by the Detroit News, General Motors claims that it now has fewer than 100 Chevy Volts sitting on dealer lots. In addition, only 1 in 9 dealers are offering the vehicles for sale. However, a search for Volt inventory on the cars.com website uncovers 500 new Chevy Volts advertised for sale to the public. This data confirms that GM dealerships are using a version of “bait and switch” to lure consumers into showrooms by advertising Chevy Volts that are not truly available for purchase.

This may not be illegal but I have to believe that most consumers would nonetheless consider the advertising strategy deceptive. Customers are probably most often switched to the lower priced Chevy Cruze. GM continues to operate with a lack of credibility. Marketing strategies included an ad campaign that proclaimed that government loans were repaid in full when that was obviously not the … Read More ➡

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers Keeps Pandering to Green Activists

Jim Rogers photoThe latest pressure tactic engaged in by global warming activists is to crank out their own journalism, then get an allegedly objective news organization to run their stories. Such was the case recently with the group SolveClimate and the Reuters news agency, when they co-published an article that attempts to pressure corporations to adopt climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

The report was fused with another environmentalist strategy: use shareholder compulsion to convince corporate leadership of the need to address global warming. As National Legal and Policy Center reported in recent months, activists have:

SolveClimate began its story with one … Read More ➡

NY Times Ombudsman Critical of Shale Gas ‘Bubble’ Stories

NY Times building photoOn July 7, we asked New York Times ombudsman Arthur Brisbane to look at the newspaper’s front-page series on natural gas by reporter Ian Urbina, who alleged that the sector is in the grips of a speculative bubble. We specified a number of apparent ethical problems with Urbina’s methods and sources.

In Sunday’s paper, Brisbane addressed the central concern raised by us and many others – that Urbina ignored the fact that production of natural gas from domestic shale deposits is booming. Brisbane wrote:

My view is that such a pointed article needed more convincing substantiation, more space for a reasoned explanation of the other side and more clarity about its focus.

Unfortunately, Urbina’s editor continued to defend the story:

“The article challenges conventional wisdom and a powerful industry, so we expected criticism,” said Richard L. Berke, the national editor. “But it is deeply sourced, meticulously reported and measured, and

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GM’s Free Insurance Incentive – Innovation or Desperation?

car insurance graphicGeneral Motors recently launched a pilot program in the Pacific Northwest offering free auto insurance on GM vehicle purchases. The move immediately drew criticism from independent insurance agents who point to possible legal problems with the move, as reported by liveinsurancenews.com. The agents are obviously concerned with the potential loss of business, but they make valid points that there are regulatory and licensing requirements that go with the offering of insurance products.

Other concerns raised include provisions that might exist for consumers who have more than one vehicle and are required to insure the vehicles under the same carrier. Are the incentive gimmicks at GM innovative marketing or a sign that they are becoming desperate to drive sales?

GM has historically offered gimmicky incentives in an attempt to drive sales. This latest promotion seems to carry extra logistical challenges; why does GM continue to rely on controversial marketing strategies … Read More ➡

Bailed-Out UAW Workers (Again) Caught Drinking, Getting High

The UAW and Chrysler are once again embarrassed as Chrysler workers were caught on camera for the second time in 10 months smoking pot and drinking beer before heading back to work.

This time a Fox News affiliate in Detroit filmed the workers partying in front of a UAW hall prior to returning to finish their shift. Americans should be outraged that the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that was spent to bail out Chrysler and General Motors has partially gone to protect the jobs of those in the politically powerful UAW who would reward the favor by brazenly getting high and drunk in public.

The Obama Administration and its Auto Task Force had made clear throughout the GM and Chrysler bankruptcy process that UAW members would be given preferential treatment over other, less politically favored, classes. Perhaps this presidential message has emboldened some in the UAW to think … Read More ➡