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06/02/2014 - 10:45

Lu GuanqiuMonths have passed since the saga about the fate of Fisker Automotive ended, which was the stimulus-funded electric vehicle flop that always seemed on the verge of bankruptcy but had a long existence as part of the walking dead.

The inevitable finally happened in November, after Fisker’s executives spent many desperate months traveling the world trying to find a buyer for the struggling company. Apparently blunders and stumbles that included fires, recalls and bad reviews for the only model Fisker ever produced – the Karma – made the business untouchable for outside investors.

2,946 reads
05/29/2014 - 17:04

Jesse Jackson

In the sixth year of the presidency of an African-American, long after Jesse Jackson, Sr. should be seen as relevant to anything, some of the largest companies in California's Silicon Valley are resuscitating his career as tribute artist. Jackson once again is resorting to his anachronistic but apparently still effective tactic of issuing an ultimatum for "diversity," giving a company a choice: 1) orient hiring, marketing and other activities to favor nonwhites; or 2) get ready for a boycott, picketing, a lawsuit or other bad publicity. Though it has been a number of years since he has pulled this off, this May he gave information technology industry titans the full Jesse treatment - and on their own turf. At shareholder meetings of eBay, Google and Facebook, Jackson issued aggressive calls to hire blacks and other "people of color," especially for top positions.

4,685 reads
05/29/2014 - 10:13

Mary BarraIt has now been more than two weeks since we sent a letter to General Motors CEO, Mary Barra, requesting a recall for vehicles (primarily Chevy Silverados and GMC Sierras) that have thousands of complaints regarding brake line corrosion. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has had an ongoing investigation for GM truck model years 1999 through 2003. Considering that new research has discovered newer model trucks with the same problem, just what are GM and NHTSA waiting for to recall these dangerous vehicles?

2,569 reads
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.

2,879 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.

6,358 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.

5,559 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.

2,844 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.

4,437 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.

2,903 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.

45,743 reads
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