Consumer Reports Removes Recommendation After Nissan Leaf Fails Crash Test

Nissan Leaf photoAfter three years and $1.4 billion in stimulus subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, you’d think the technology and performance of the all-electric Nissan Leaf would have improved rather than worsened by now.

You’d be wrong.

Whereas once the Leaf enjoyed a favorable review by Consumer Reports (despite an extremely unpleasant test experience by one of its researchers and the identification of several negative features), the magazine has yanked its recommendation. That’s because of the Leaf’s dismal safety performance in crash testing of small cars by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, where it received a rating of “poor,” along with three other models.

“Collapse of the occupant compartment is the downfall for four small cars in this group, including the…Leaf,” said Joe Nolan, senior vice president for vehicle research for the IIHS. “A sturdy occupant compartment allows the restraint systems to do their job, absorbing energy and controlling … Read More ➡

Risky Business: The Best Global Warming Alarmism Money Can Buy

tom-steyerIt’s been a month since the billionaire triumvirate of Tom Steyer (pictured), Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomberg introduced their ballyhooed Risky Business report on the climate, and after all the op-eds, blog posts and public interviews so far, all that can be said about it is that it is already an empty, meaningless PR campaign upon which the financial hot shots have wasted their money.

There is no there, there.

Logical scrutiny of the project, from its genesis to its outcome, would reveal how deeply flawed and biased it is. Given every contributing factor, there is no other verdict that would have been reached other than “we must all do something about global warming!” Yet the legacy media has treated Risky Business as something that was objectively conceived, and which has delivered perfectly reasonable conclusions. That is to be expected from pack journalists who don’t look beyond the climate crystal … Read More ➡

Meeks Pushed for Iran Sanction Exemption After Azerbaijan Junket

There’s fallout from the July 27 Houston Chronicle exposé of a trip to Azerbaijan by 10 member of the House that violated House rules. The trip was ostensibly sponsored by nonprofit groups but was actually funded by oil companies BP, Conoco Phillips and SOCAR, the national oil company of Azerbaijan. According to the New York Post today:

Rep. Gregory Meeks pushed to let an Iran-backed natural-gas project dodge US sanctions — after attending an illicit junket paid for by energy companies.

 Also from the Post:

 “Congressman Meeks went on a 2013 Congressional trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, subsidized in part by corporate interests which lobby Congress — a violation of House rules. Shortly after he returned, Meeks sponsored a resolution wanted by those same corporations,”

Read More ➡

How GM Manipulated June Sales Figures with Dealership Incentives

chart downThe Associated Press gives evidence today to how desperate General Motors is to give the appearance that the company is firing on all cylinders. GM pulled out all the stops to ensure that June sales would not disappoint when sales were slowing as a result of the company’s loss of credibility during its seemingly never-ending recall saga.

At mid-June, sales for the month at GM were lagging the previous year’s. The political minds at GM could not have this, and according to the piece:

In mid-June, however, the automaker was headed for a year-over-year monthly sales decline, according to data compiled by automotive research firms. Then, on June 20, GM asked dealers to buy more cars, and it threw in another $1,000 in discounts per vehicle, five dealership representatives told The Associated Press. The company finished the month with a 1 percent gain.

The dealers said they were asked to

Read More ➡

Azerbaijan Trip by House Members Broke Rules

Gregory MeeksThe Houston Chronicle yesterday published an account of a 2013 trip by 10 members of the House of Representatives to Azerbaijan that violates a House rule that prohibits the acceptance of overnight travel from corporations that employ lobbyists. The trip was indirectly paid for by companies doing business in Azerbaijan through nonprofit groups.

The fact set is similar to the 2008 case involving a trip to the Caribbean by then-Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), exposed by NLPC, and investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee, which “admonished” Rangel, prompting his resignation as House Ways and Means Chairman. The head of the nonprofit that sponsored the event was eventually convicted of lying to Congress.

According to the story by Will Tucker and Lise Olsen, 10 House members and 35 staffers enjoyed an all expenses paid trip to Baku, which … Read More ➡

Court Forces Government to Release Documents in Fannie/Freddie Suit

Fannie Mae/Freddie MacThe burden carried by the holders of stock in mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, each operating for nearly six years under federal conservatorship, just got lighter. On July 16, U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Margaret Sweeney, in a procedural ruling, held that shareholder-plaintiffs in Fairholme Funds Inc. et al. v. United States are entitled to know material facts that the government wants to keep secret. The shareholders are seeking compensation for foregone income resulting from the Treasury Department’s “sweep” rule of August 2012, which forced the companies to forward all dividends to the department in perpetuity. Government lawyers had filed a motion for a protective order on May 30 to inhibit discovery. The outcome of this case will have major implications for the future of property rights in this country.

National Legal and Policy Center has been following the situation at the Washington, D.C.-based Federal National Mortgage … Read More ➡

NY Times: Cuomo ‘Hobbled’ Anti-Corruption Moreland Commission

Sampson and CuomoOn Wednesday the New York Times published an account of how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and his staff derailed the workings of an anti-corruption commission that Cuomo had established with great fanfare just months earlier.  A New York state law from 1907 named for its sponsor, Sherman Moreland, allows the governor to appoint investigators with subpoena power to seek out corruption in state government.

Cuomo appointed the commission in July 2013 in response to newspaper headlines generated by NLPC and the subsequent arrests of three New York State Senators. We  were encouraged by the creation of the commission although we were dubious that Cuomo was sincere about reform.  As we pointed out in May 2013 when Cuomo used the term “scandalmania” and made several modest anti-corruption proposals:

While we welcome these proposals, they should not be used by Cuomo to construct a narrative that it is himself against the

Read More ➡

GM Debt Climbs to Over $40 Billion, Earnings Disappoint

General Motors reported earnings today for the 2nd quarter of 2014. The early prognosis is not good with share price falling after the report. While it is difficult for the Mom and Pop investor to sort through GM’s myriad of charges, special items and various smoke and mirrors, there are some key take-aways that give a glimpse of GM’s financial health. Primarily, debt continues to grow at the company, now exceeding $40 billion while earnings are propped up by special items.

Analyzing the levels of cash compared to debt at GM is probably the easiest way to get to the truth behind the many numbers thrown about in the earnings report. In just the past three months at GM, short and long term debt has grown from a hefty $37.8 billion to an even heftier $40 billion. This key fact gives a contrarian view to what the media and … Read More ➡

Why Hasn’t NHTSA Expanded GM Brake Line Corrosion Investigation?

FriedmanIt has now been over two months since we requested that General Motors recall vehicles that are prone to brake line corrosion. The vehicles in question, GM truck model years 1999 through 2003, have been under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) since 2010. The government agency has done nothing noteworthy regarding the existing GM safety concern over the four year span of the investigation.

NHTSA has also proven its ineffectiveness when it comes to safeguarding American motorists by ignoring multiple complaints for newer model GM vehicles. Why hasn’t NHTSA expanded the GM brake line investigation to include model years 2004 through 2007, which also have hundreds of complaints involving failed braking as a result of brake line rust?

Owners of GM vehicles with corroded brake lines have been frustratingly trying to bring to light an issue which plagues GM vehicles more so than any other manufacturer.Read More ➡

McCaskill and Blumenthal Must Press GM’s Barra for Brake Corrosion Recall

Claire McCaskillOn Thursday, July 17, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will be back as a witness on Capitol Hill, this time before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Insurance.

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who has been an outspoken critic of GM’s response to the deadly ignition switch defect, chairs the Subcommittee. Indeed, the hearing is titled, “Examining Accountability and Corporate Culture in Wake of the GM Recalls.” Another subcommittee member, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), has been even more outspoken. Both deserve credit for seeking to make GM accountable, especially since some members on both House and Senate committees have pulled their punches on Barra and GM.

Richard BlumenthalThe hearing is expected to focus on the deadly ignition switch fiasco. It is imperative, however, that McCaskill and Blumenthal press Barra on a separate issue, the necessity of a recall of pickups and SUVs with a brake corrosion defect. On May … Read More ➡