For Al Sharpton, October 1 through 3 was a 60th birthday celebration to savor. But the most memorable part of that three-day occasion may have been something definitely not on the itinerary. Last Wednesday night, following a corporate-sponsored fundraising banquet for Sharpton's nonprofit National Action Network (NAN) at Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant, a close associate, attorney Sanford Rubenstein, allegedly raped an unnamed 42-year-old black woman who is a ranking NAN official. The two had gone to Rubenstein's nearby penthouse with another woman following the dinner.
Cadillac sales continue to sputter at General Motors. In fact, the brand is the only make at GM that has seen a year over year sales decline for the period ending in September at a time when the auto industry was booming. Specifically, Cadillac has logged in 127,837 sales for the first nine months of 2014 compared to 133,414 in 2013 for a sales decline of 4.2 percent. GM will now offer frequent flyer miles to help spur sales at the division.
Al Sharpton turned 60 last Friday. That's a psychological landmark in any man's life. But if the New York-based civil rights activist, preacher, politician and media star is feeling blue, he can console himself with the reported $1 million in pledges from corporate and other donors to his nonprofit National Action Network (NAN). The celebration kicked off on Wednesday with a NAN-sponsored two-day education summit at New York University. On October 1, Sharpton held a celebration at Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant. The crème of New York Democratic Party politics were in attendance, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. From the world of black arts and entertainment, Aretha Franklin and Spike Lee were present.
A special inspector general report on compensation for executives at General Motors and Ally Financial blasts the Treasury Department for allowing excessive pay at the companies as taxpayers lost billions of dollars on the auto bailouts. The watchdog group issuing the report monitors the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which was set up to save financial corporations deemed "too big to fail" due to systemic risk to America's financial system. The program was expanded to allow for the bailing out of the auto industry, despite the questionable use of funds specifically designated for financial institutions.
According to the report, at minimum there is sharp debate over whether the company will continue to manufacture electric vehicle batteries in-house or contract with an outside supplier. Nissan partner Renault, which has 43.4 percent shareholder ownership in the joint company, is said to be pushing for outsourcing battery production – possibly to LG Chem. None who revealed the information were identified for the Reuters story.
Labor officials are about the last people to be impressed by evidence that hiking the minimum wage drives up entry-level unemployment. These last several weeks they've been putting words into action in targeting fast food restaurants. Unions, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are retooling their campaign to establish a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food employees, more than double the current $7.25 an hour basic federal minimum. Hundreds of protestors, though not necessarily union members, were arrested for blocking traffic on Labor Day. President Obama voiced his approval of the campaign that day in a speech. And the SEIU has called for a nationwide strike.
A Republican that leftists turn to for a good “enviro-kumbaya” session came through with the rhetoric again this week. Most recently known for his partnership with statists Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg in the shame-the-capitalists effort called “Risky Business,” Paulson delivered a financial market parallelism on climate change that any Occupy Wall Streeter would be proud of.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) faced some of its heaviest criticism to date last week on Capitol Hill. Hearings addressing the failings of the agency were headed by Senator Claire McCaskill and centered around NHTSA's part in General Motors' deadly ignition switch recall delay. The death toll (currently at 20) continues to rise as a result of GM and NHTSA allowing the dangerously defective vehicles to remain on the roads for about 10 years from when the problem was first recognized. While the criticism of NHTSA is well-deserved, it is past time for harsh words to be accompanied by an overhaul of the agency.
There was little doubt that once CEO Elon Musk and Tesla announced they would locate their electric vehicle battery “Gigafactory” in Nevada, that Silver State lawmakers would vote in a special legislative session to support targeted tax breaks and incentives – even at the breathtaking amount of $1.3 billion.
Gov. Brian Sandoval, the courter, would have appeared an extreme fool if he didn’t already have the political backing needed for the deal. But there were other mini-surprises: Unanimity at the legislature; four separate bills passed to construct the package; and benefits enjoyed by other industries in Nevada that were rescinded to help with the Tesla payoff.
Department of Labor officials these past several years haven't been shy about conveying their political preferences to their own labor force. An ongoing Capitol Hill probe has found out as much. Late last month the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released a report concluding that the Obama-era department has spent at least $725,000 on elevator posters, publicity contests and other forms of advocacy intended to boost employee morale. Most, if not all, of this motivational agitprop was the doing of first-term Secretary Hilda Solis. Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., a longtime critic, noted: "This questionable activity has been going on for some time. As my staff has learned, in 2009 DOL began producing weekly elevator posters for the 23 passenger elevators at DOL's headquarters in Washington, D.C." Tax-funded ideology marches on.