Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon takes an even closer look at the relationship between controversial Canadian mining tycoon Frank Giustra and the Clinton Foundation. This time, she reports that a company in which Giustra owned a major stake received a $150 million loan from the taxpayer-funded International Finance Corporation (IFC) to build a port and pipeline in Colombia. The loan was made despite IFC concerns about the project’s social and environmental impact. From the story:
Within the next few months, two for-profit companies were created in Cartagena. One was a job-training center to teach locals how to work at the port. The other was a food supplier that helped support fishers and farmers by selling their products to hotels and supermarkets.
Bill Clinton and Frank Giustra launched both companies using funding from the Clinton Foundation’s Colombia-based private investment fund, Fondo Acceso.
On November 23, Goodman reported on the existence … Read More ➡
The appearance for some time has been that the State Department under Hillary Clinton was turned into sort of a shakedown operation for the Clinton Foundation. Now Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon details how the Foundation, supposedly a nonprofit entity, operated a private equity fund in Colombia, one of the most corrupt places on earth.
The fund was known as Fondo Acceso, and its “investors” included Mexican crony capitalist Carlos Slim (in photo), a billionaire. Of course, the Clinton Foundation will not say much about how the fund actually operated. From the story:
Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group, said the lack of transparency was a troubling. He said the public has a right to know whether any of Fondo Acceso’s companies received U.S. government support while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.
“At the minimum, the Clinton Foundation should
… Read More ➡
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) is challenging the independence and objectivity of Freedom House in its recently-released Freedom on the Net Index.
Today, NLPC President Ken Boehm sent Freedom House President Mark Lagon a letter detailing the following points:
- Google is a major funder of the Index
- Authors of several country reports have financial ties to Google
- The Index is annually released at Google headquarters
- The criteria used to rate nations seem to reflect Google business priorities
Below is the full text of the Boehm letter:
As one of the premier independent watchdog organizations dedicated to the protection of freedom and democracy around the globe, Freedom House has a special responsibility to shine the light on examples of governments undermining the causes of freedom, human rights, and civil liberties.
At the same time, Freedom House has a special and indeed unique challenge to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest in … Read More ➡
One of the stimulus-funded alternative energy companies that National Legal and Policy Center reported about most the last few years was A123 Systems, which the Department of Energy awarded $279 million to crank out special batteries for electric vehicles.
The examples of government failures in picking successes in industries and economies are countless, with President Obama’s plan for subsidies of a million electric cars on U.S. roads by 2015 serving as Exhibit One. He was only off by several hundred thousand.
But that doesn’t mean that vultures can’t consume the carcasses left behind, which is exactly what the Chinese did with A123. As Bloomberg reported last week, the multinational automotive parts corporation Wanxiang Group is running the company to try to meet market demands and is “having better luck.”
Whether “fortune” is leading A123 to an ultimately healthier place is still undetermined, but Wanxiang … Read More ➡
Giant technology companies who deliver much of their services via “cloud” computing – such as Apple, Google, and Facebook – have claimed for years that they generate the massive amounts of electricity they need from renewable sources, despite their obvious dependence on fossil fuels.
For example, Apple has said it has “achieved 100 percent renewable energy at all of our data centers,” but as NLPC has reported and an investigation by liberal Web site Truthout.org confirmed, Apple does not power its servers with “green” alternative energy. Instead – as in the case with its western North Carolina facility – Apple sells the power from the solar farms and fuel cells it owns in NC to utility Duke Energy, and also buys renewable energy certificates (or “indulgences”) to “offset” the carbon dioxide emissions its electricity produces.
“Purchasing offsets is not the same as actually powering something with renewable … Read More ➡
A report by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security has found that the Department’s Federal Protective Service (FPS) division wasted about $2.5 million of taxpayer money in 2014 on an extravagant fleet vehicle program. It is not surprising that images show that the vehicles in question appear to be manufactured by crony company, General Motors.
A House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency, headed by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), requested the audit on the FPS’ fleet operation. The report unveils a fleet of 1,169 vehicles which were leased at an operating cost of $10.7 million. That’s over $9,000 a year per vehicle or over $750 a month. Would any taxpaying individual agree to a personal lease deal for that amount? Probably not, but the Obama Administration has no problem spending the taxpayers’ money to lease vehicles which apparently come primarily … Read More ➡
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the UAW’s voluntary employees’ beneficiary association (VEBA) fund was underfunded by approximately $20.7 billion in 2014, which was the latest reported period. The shortfall has grown from the previously reported 2013 figure when the trust was estimated to be 93% funded. The latest funding figure, which was hurt by growing medical benefits costs, plummeted to 74% in one year.
The VEBA fund was established in order to transfer liability of retiree medical benefits costs from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler (now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) to the UAW prior to GM going bankrupt in 2009. In fact, the fund was one of the primary driving forces of GM’s bankruptcy as the company agreed to fund the account with $30 billion as part of the agreement; money they didn’t have.
Total net assets for the VEBA trust stood at about $60 billion in 2014. … Read More ➡
General Motors’ CEO, Mary Barra, continued to project a bright future for the automaker during a recent presentation to shareholders. The prognostication gave a rosy appraisement for financial estimates as far out as 2020, when Barra says GM will have between $9 billion to $10 billion in free cash flow. Her crystal ball also shows that electric cars will compete with gas-powered vehicles by 2022 and that global car sales will increase by 50% to 130 million by the year 2030.
It is very difficult to predict future profitability in the very cyclical auto industry, but GM is desperate to give its shareholders some hope. GM share price has far underperformed broader markets since the company’s 2010 IPO and still trades below the $33 offering price. The S&P 500 index has gone up by about 70% compared to GM’s decline since trading began. Putting aside the fact that 2020 cash … Read More ➡
The response of the Justice Department to General Motors’ ignition switch defect cover-up was announced last week. GM’s failure to address the deadly defect led to the loss of lives of at least 169 people. Any hopes for the families of the victims that the crony status of GM would not stand in the way of justice were squashed as the company was given a slap on the wrist by its friends at the Obama Administration.
The Justice Department’s news release regarding the meager $900 million penalty reeked of hypocrisy as it tried to paint a picture of a repentant GM while admitting the company was guilty as charged. From the release:
SIGTARP Special Inspector General Christy Goldsmith Romero said: “General Motors’ criminal conduct found by SIGTARP and our law enforcement partners defies comprehension. Our investigation uncovered that GM learned about a life-threatening ignition switch defect that would cause air
… Read More ➡
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ CEO Sergio Marchionne’s quest to merge his company with General Motors continues to garner attention and draw suggestions that GM might be shooting itself in the foot by ignoring the offer to talk. Two respected sources weighed in on the drama, most notably CNBC anchor and ex-hedge fund manager Jim Cramer who has lost confidence in GM management and dumped his shares of the company.
In a TheStreet.com piece, Cramer was rightfully complimentary of Marchionne’s talents. Marchionne is a savvy leader who took advantage of the Obama Administration’s desperation, lack of vision and poor negotiating skills during the 2009 auto bailout process when the Italian automaker was given a free stake in a sinking Chrysler corporation at the low point of the auto sales cycle. Cramer was also right on point with his criticism of GM CEO Mary Barra. From the piece:
As for Cramer, he said
… Read More ➡