Innovation Desperation: GM Overpays for Self-Driving Car Startup

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that General Motors has paid over a billion dollars in cash and stock to acquire Cruise Automation, a San Francisco startup company that designs self-driving software. The technological and regulatory obstacles facing autonomous driving development are huge, but don’t expect that to stop GM from throwing billions of shareholder dollars at the latest hyped wonder-technology.

Cruise Automation is a small firm that employs about 40 people and has no major sales revenue to speak of. That works out to GM paying about $25 million per employee. The billion dollar company, however, is reported to be growing quickly with plans to hire another ten people.

The idea of GM wantonly spending $1 billion for the start-up brings to mind the costly Chevy Volt folly which saw a multi-billion dollar investment in an infeasible technology reap no rewards for GM shareholders. Even with billions of dollars …

Watchdog Asks for Probe in Mortgage Lending ‘Revolving Door’ Case

A watchdog group is asking for an investigation of David H. Stevens, a former Federal Housing Administration (FHA) official, who currently serves as President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today asks in dual requests to the U.S. Attorney for District of Columbia, and the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that Stevens be investigated for possibly violating the statutory one-year ban on having contact with his former agency, as well as the lifetime ban on having contact with officials on matters on which he worked while in government. Click here to download a copy of the requests.

At issue is Stevens’ apparent quarterbacking of a campaign by the big banks to win mortgage lending business from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the wake of the financial crisis, and the placement of the two Government Sponsored Enterprises …

After Original Bondholders Stiffed, GM Issues New Debt

“Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me.” That is a cliché that investors should keep in mind if they are considering buying into General Motors’ latest debt offering. In fact, holders of GM common stock should also assess the growing similarity that New GM has with the bankrupted Old GM.

GM announced last week that it will be offering an estimated $2 billion of unsecured debt to help prop up underfunded pensions with additional proceeds used for general business purposes. The move follows a contradictory continuing dialogue that proclaims the company is so cash rich that it can afford to buy back billions of dollars of common shares as it doles out $11,000 bonuses to UAW workers. GM share performance belies the notion that the company is firing on all cylinders.

Since GM’s public offering in late 2010, shares are down over 15% while the …

Obama Fetes Black Lives Matter Leaders at White House Summit

obama-black-lives-matter-summitAnyone doubting the influence of the loosely-knit band of demagogues known as Black Lives Matter probably wasn’t at the White House last Thursday, where President Obama met with black leaders to discuss race, crime and policing.  Among the attendees were Al Sharpton, National Urban League President Marc Morial, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Black Lives Matter activists DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett (in photo).  Obama invited McKesson and Packnett as a gesture to young blacks.  Their inclusion underscores the summit’s unspoken assumption:  White lives don’t matter.

National Legal and Policy Center early in January described the origins and motives of Black Lives Matter (BLM).  The group was launched in July 2013 by three black female community activists in the immediate wake of a wholly justified decision by a Florida trial jury not to convict a white neighborhood crime patrol volunteer, George Zimmerman, for murder in the self-defense shooting death of …

Ogundu Gets 1 to 3 Years in Prison; NLPC Exposed Earmarks to Fake NYC Health Clinic

New York physician Dorothy Ogundu has been sentenced to 1 to 3 years in prison for ripping off City, State and federal programs for a fake health clinic. The Nigerian-born Ogundu was convicted in October on 29 counts, including second-degree grand larceny, forgery in the second degree, and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

The prosecution was based on information uncovered by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), and made public through a New York Post article in April 2012. The Ogundu exposé was a spinoff of our investigation of Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who secured a $380,500 earmark for the "clinic."

After reviewing Meeks' earmarks in 2011, NLPC decided to take a closer look at Angeldocs, Inc., which operated the fake clinic in Queens, called the Aki Life Health Center. Soonafter, NLPC filed a Complaint with the Internal Revenue Service against Angeldocs, alleging self-dealing and inurnment by …

GM Finally Puts Cadillac ELR Out Of Its Misery

Here’s one that wasn’t hard to see coming. General Motors has announced that it is ending production of the Cadillac ELR, which was essentially a gussied up Chevy Volt at twice the price. You can call this one a mercy killing as the overpriced, pseudo-green, government-subsidized vehicle was doomed for failure as low sales figures reflected the lack of value offered by the vehicle. That failure was predicted here back in December of 2013 when the ELR was rolled out.

As with the sales-challenged Chevy Volt, most of the media bought into the Cadillac ELR hype, calling it a potential “Tesla Killer.” Priced at about $76,000, the ELR ran a 0 to 60 time in an embarrassing 10 second range. Despite that, GM CEO Mary Barra had high hopes for the car. That is a fact that should make GM shareholders nervous.

Here’s what I said over two years …

Puerto Rico Governor Tries to Distance Himself from His Brother

Alejandro Garcia Padilla, the governor of Puerto Rico, is claiming that he has nothing to do with a controversial charity, which has his brother Antonio Garcia Padilla as its only employee, according to Alana Goodman in the Washington Free Beacon.

The nonprofit is called Sociedad Economica De Amigos Del Pais. Its funding comes from corporations doing business with the Commonwealth government. According to its federal tax return, Antonio makes $70,000 per year for a forty-hour work week. The group is a resurrected version of a nonprofit founded as the Hispanic Education and Legal Fund (HELF) in 1996 by New York union boss Dennis Rivera and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson.

Antonio’s forty-hour work week came as news to students at the University of Puerto Rico, where he purportedly serves a full time law school professor. From the Free Beacon:

The student council is calling on the administration to investigate whether Garcia Padilla

GM and NHTSA Elude Accountability in Failed Fire Risk Recall

It has now been more than three months since news broke that General Motors, once again, failed to properly protect owners of its vehicles from risks resulting from shoddy quality control. The latest incident involves about 1.4 million GM vehicles that were at risk of erupting into flames due to engine oil seepage. The at-risk vehicles were previously recalled by GM years ago, but the quick-fix remedy offered by GM did not solve the underlying problem.

It appears that most of mainstream media has been fiddling while the GM vehicles burned. One of the few articles that criticized the latest GM recall failure came in November of 2015 from the Associated Press via the Detroit Free Press. That story questioned the actions of GM in the case along with the crony government regulatory environment as NHTSA failed, yet again, to take action on a well-known safety problem. Following are excerpts …

Questionable Charity in Puerto Rico Has One Employee— the Governor’s Brother

A nonprofit group founded by ex-New York SEIU boss Dennis Rivera has received big contributions from corporations that do business with the Puerto Rican government, while employing the governor’s brother as its only employee. This arrangement was reported today by Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon, based on information provided by NLPC.

The charity, now known as “Sociedad Económica De Amigos del Pais,” was founded in New York in 1996 by Rivera and former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as the Hispanic Education and Legal Fund (HELF). Its name change, relocation to Puerto Rico and change of mission raise additional red flags.

The nonprofit was already under scrutiny as a possible vehicle for political corruption.

On November 22, the New York Post ran a story, based on documents provided by NLPC, detailing how $1 million was routed from HELF to another foundation headed by Richardson. A whistleblower …

Senator Blunt, Election Rival Kowtow to Black Lives Matter

roy bluntWhen it comes to standing up to racial shakedowns, political leadership is in short supply in Missouri, as it is in other states.  On January 9, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. (in photo), facing re-election, squared off against his Democratic opponent, Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, at Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis.  The event, sponsored by the state’s Martin Luther King Celebration Commission, revealed a disturbing acquiescence by the candidates to the radical Black Lives Matter.  A co-emcee kicked things off by declaring:  “Black lives matter.  Period.”  Once at the podium, Sen. Blunt, rather than offer a rebuke, responded:  “Black lives matter – we do need to say that.”  Kander proved even worse.  And they aren’t the only politicians in the state to roll over.

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a national movement that matters – in all the wrong ways.  Two weeks ago National Legal and Policy Center

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