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09/03/2015 - 10:42

The latest batch of publicly-released State Department emails provide more evidence that a $10 million loan from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) to Clinton Foundation donor Claudio Osorio was made as a result of pressure from Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The loan to a company named InnoVida, owned by Osorio, was supposed to be for building houses in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, but Osorio used the money to finance a lavish lifestyle. Osorio is currently in prison for fraud. OPIC is an independent agency but submits its budget through the State Department.

09/02/2015 - 13:10

The National Labor Relations Board has provided unions with a variety of favorable rulings during the Obama years, but perhaps none as dramatic as the one last Thursday.  On August 27, the NLRB, in a 3-2 vote, concluded that Browning-Ferris Industries (BFI) of California Inc. qualifies as a “joint employer” alongside another firm, Leadpoint Business Services, with which it had contracted to handle labor operations at a Bay Area recycling plant.  As such, both companies must negotiate with a Teamsters affiliate should the results of a representation vote last spring reveal a union victory.  The ruling could force many large employers to the bargaining table over labor issues which they have little or no direct control, while sharply raising business costs for contractors, franchisees and temp agencies.  And it isn’t just the Teamsters who are rejoicing.

08/31/2015 - 12:22

Lawyers for Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently asked that several of the counts in the indictment be thrown out because the investigation started after “unproven allegations” that Menendez has sex with underage prostitutes.

In response, the government says it has “corroborated” evidence of this misconduct, even though Menendez was not criminally charged with it. Paul Mulshine of The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, has a good account of this legal misstep.

08/27/2015 - 16:56

By now it is settled judicial opinion:  A private-sector union can’t force nonunion employees under contract to pay dues for purposes beyond collective bargaining.  The U.S. Supreme Court cogently expressed this view in its landmark 1988 ruling, Communications Workers of America v. Beck.  Yet it is almost as if the decision never happened.  A new law journal article by prominent Right to Work attorney Raymond LaJeunesse, Jr. explains why.  He points a finger not only at the unions, who at least act out of recognizable self-interest, but more importantly, at the ostensibly nonpartisan National Labor Relations Board.  The NLRB, he argues, using a variety of tactics, over the years has acted more as a de facto advocate for unionism than as a guardian of the public trust.  And the situation has gotten worse under President Obama.

Ken Boehm
08/26/2015 - 15:50

The following letter was today sent to House Ethics Committee Chairman Charles Dent (R-PA), in photo, and Ranking Member Linda Sanchez (D-CA):

We are writing to express deep concern about the House Ethics Committee’s decision to withhold the findings of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) related to its investigation of Member and staff travel to Azerbaijan.  The Committee’s action, along with its order to OCE to “cease and refer” without the Committee having officially started an investigation, sets a dangerous precedent that could fundamentally undermine the important benefits that OCE has brought to the House ethics process.

08/25/2015 - 12:00

Anthony FoxxAllegations in civil lawsuit threatens to mar the reputation of Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx (Flickr Photo: MTyndall).

He has been sued in the case of defunct DesignLine USA. The Charlotte-based hybrid electric bus-maker declared bankruptcy in 2013 after years of missteps that included maintenance problems, production problems, missed deliveries, lawsuits, and an FBI investigation. Its assets were sold to an investment group and the company now operates with a much lower profile, under the name EPV Corp.

08/24/2015 - 09:17

Rumors have circulated that General Motors is considering building Buick SUVs in China which would be sold both there and in the USA. The timing of the leaked plans could not be worse as China markets continue to collapse, spreading contagion to world markets. The timing also coincides with GM’s negotiations with the UAW, raising the suspicion that GM is using the rumor to leverage their bargaining power with the UAW.

Why is GM focusing so much on the Chinese market at the worst of times? Regardless of the weakening Chinese economy, it would be challenging to convince American consumers to purchase SUVs built in China given the perception of lower quality and safety standards. China also has not been the best of US allies considering ongoing computer hacking allegations, aggressive military build-ups and unfair currency devaluation tactics.

08/21/2015 - 18:00

Some would call it punting.  Others would call it common sense.  Both summations might apply.  On Monday, August 17, the National Labor Relations Board unanimously ruled that scholarship football players at Northwestern University cannot form a union.  In overturning a March 2014 regional NLRB decision, the board concluded that allowing union organizing at one campus, but not at others, would be disruptive.  The ruling read:  “Our decision is primarily premised on a finding that because of the nature of sports leagues…it would not promote stability in labor relations to assert jurisdiction in this case.”  While the decision is a rebuke to the players’ request, its scope is narrow.  By declining to rule on whether student-athletes qualify as “employees,” the board has kept the door open for similar cases.    

08/18/2015 - 11:34

Tesla logoElon Musk still hasn’t given up his quarterly earnings schtick – in which he glosses over ongoing failures and points to his latest tech idea (which is not really new) – and why should he? No reason to quit until it’s clear Wall Street has stopped worshiping.

Oh, sure, after another dismal performance (operating loss of $47 million) for Tesla Motors during the most recent quarter, its stock price took an immediate dive of 9-10 percent. But while that merely returned the electric automaker back to irrational exuberance territory – as compared to the drunken sailor highs it has enjoyed in recent months – it didn’t take long for some market analyst to restore the inflation.

08/13/2015 - 08:58

General Motors’ shares have taken a hit this week with the catalyst for the latest downturn being news out of China. Continued weakness in China (including weakening car sales) has led the country to devalue its currency in an attempt to bolster its economy at the expense of its trading partners. This latest news confirms my views that GM’s China gamble puts the company and its shareholders at increased risk. The horrible performance of GM’s stock over the past few months also brings into question the rationale for the much-hyped share buyback that was instigated by ex-Obama Auto Task Force member, Harry Wilson, in photo.

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