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05/29/2014 - 10:10

Moral MondayFollowing last week’s attention-getting demonstration at McDonald’s Corp.’s shareholder meeting in Oak Brook, Ill., Rev. William Barber returned Tuesday to his weekly routine of leading stomps and rants at the North Carolina General Assembly.

The supersized president of the NC chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People relaunched his so-called “Moral Mondays” on May 19, which coincided with the return of legislators to the state capital for a few weeks. Sizes of the crowds he is able to bring to Raleigh vary, but with the aid of the local spectacle-loving media, Barber can always count on overestimates of head counts and exaggerations of his effectiveness.

2,789 reads
05/21/2014 - 18:53

Warren Buffett photoIn my previous Special Report titled "The Carnahan Wind Deal," I documented that wind energy is highly inefficient and requires additional transmission lines and back-up gas generators when the wind doesn't blow. Yet, windmills keep getting built, thanks to government subsidies.

But it is very hard to trace these subsidies. Vague statements about "tax credits" and "mandates" give no hint of the magnitude of returns that these subsidies provide to crony windmillers. Indeed, in the Carnahan Special Report, we had to burrow into financial statements of a foreign company and its subsidiary to understand where all the money was going.  The principal information was buried in an arcane note to these financial statements.

5,926 reads
05/20/2014 - 18:33

Johnson, CrapoEveryone in Washington favors "reform." Unfortunately, the term can be highly deceptive. Such is the case of the Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act of 2014 (S.1217), a bill that would abolish troubled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in favor of a federally-backed private insurance system. Last Thursday, the Senate Banking Committee approved the measure by a 13-9 vote. Yet the bill, sponsored by Sens. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho (in photos), may never reach the Senate floor - and not undeservedly. For the real problem with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which now are profitable and have more than repaid their federal bailout debt, is not their existence; it is their subjection to tight federal control.

5,199 reads
05/20/2014 - 13:29

Rasheida SmithThe axiom that "all that rises must converge" is upside down in New York State where all that falls is now converging. According to the New York Post, Rep. Charles Rangel's campaign manager helped incorporate a nonprofit group that was plundered by New York City Councilman Ruben Wills, who was arrested last week. From the article:

Rasheida Smith, a longtime southeast Queens Democratic operative, is listed on the incorporation papers of New York 4 Life, the group that state authorities say Wills looted for more than $30,000 to buy such luxuries as a $750 Louis Vuitton handbag.

2,612 reads
05/20/2014 - 10:25

GM brake linesNLPC is requesting that General Motors recall vehicles with a dangerous rusted brake line defect. The request is based on a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation of GM trucks for model years 1999 to 2003 that included Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras. We are also asking NHTSA to order a recall without further delay.

Further investigation finds that NHTSA has received many additional complaints for newer model GM trucks that appear to be afflicted with the same defect.

3,809 reads
05/19/2014 - 08:30

David FriedmanToday, I sent this letter to David Friedman (in photo), Acting Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

On March 30, 2010 NHTSA's Office of Defect Investigations opened Preliminary Investigation PE10010, into corrosion-related brake line failures in General Motors full-size pickups made between 1999 and 2003. In January 2011, that investigation was upgraded to ODI Engineering Analysis EA11001, which in part appears to determine if corrosion-related brake line failures were a General Motors-specific issue or industry-wide. The "Engineering Analysis" investigation remains open to this day after over three years, making it NHTSA's longest-running open investigation, and the second longest investigation in its history.

2,743 reads
05/18/2014 - 21:05

Correll photoWashington's metaphorical "revolving door" keeps on spinning. A recent case involving a former Air Force procurement official is at the center of a high-stakes dispute over the launching of rockets into space, and the huge contracts that go with them.

From March 2011 to January of this year, Roger "Scott" Correll (in photo) was the official at the Pentagon responsible for procuring launch services from private companies. One of his last official acts before his "retirement" in January was to oversee a deal with a company called United Launch Alliance (ULA) for a whopping 36 future launches. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed.

44,814 reads
05/14/2014 - 09:23

Alan AdlerGM's initial response to our request yesterday for a recall of vehicles with a brake corrosion problem is completely unacceptable. It was contained in a Detroit News article about our call for the carmaker to recall 6 million pickups and SUVs that are the subject of an open investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

GM spokesman Alan Adler, in photo, claimed that the brake corrosion problem is industry-wide, and suggested it was a normal wear-and-tear issue. He told the News:

The trucks in question are long out of factory warranty and owners manuals urge customers to have their brake lines inspected the same way brake pads need replacement for wear. In fact, more than 20 states require brake-line inspections at one- or two-year intervals or when stopped for a violation.

3,330 reads
05/13/2014 - 12:03

Mary BarraHere's the text of a letter I sent today to GM CEO Mary Barra. As I indicate, we welcomed her affirmative response to our request last month for a recall of a separate set of vehicles with a different problem.

Dear Ms. Barra:

We ask General Motors (the Company) to recall model years 1999 through 2003 for the following vehicles: Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Sierra, GMC Tahoe and GMC Yukon.

These six million pickups and SUVs endanger the lives and safety of their owners due to a loss of braking related to brake line corrosion.

3,933 reads
05/12/2014 - 11:22

emailAn employer presumably sets the rules as to who uses its e-mail accounts and for what purposes. But that presumption might not hold if the users are union organizers. On April 30, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) posted a notice soliciting comments on an October ruling by an Administrative Law Judge, Purple Communications Inc., that an employer has the discretion to deny the use of its e-mail system for organizing. If the NLRB reverses the decision, which is likely given its current 3-2 pro-union majority, it would be handing unions a potent organizing tool, and more broadly, restricting employer property rights. A victory by the Communications Workers of America in this case would overturn a 2007 board decision protecting an employer's right to bar the usage of its e-mail for organizing.

4,118 reads
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