As an investigation unfolds over a controversial U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program, another "green" loan recipient lingers at the brink of financial collapse. Massachusetts energy firm Beacon Power Corporation, which develops "flywheel-based" energy storage systems, filed for bankruptcy Sunday after receiving a $43 million Energy Department loan guarantee in August 2010 — only months after taxpayers were put on the hook for a $535 million loan guarantee granted to the now-defunct solar energy company Solyndra. Beacon Power’s bankruptcy filing arrived just two days after the White House ordered a 60-day "independent analysis" of the DOE’s loan program, where officials will evaluate and improve the monitoring process to "ensure" that government leaders are being "strong stewards of taxpayer dollars." In August 2010, the Treasury Department’s Federal Financing Bank awarded Beacon Power the loan guarantee to finance a new energy storage plant in Stephentown, New York. But the company claims a run of bad fortune has burdened its financial standing, especially after it was delisted by the Nasdaq following an 80-percent plunge in its shares this year. "The current economic and political climate, the financing terms mandated by DOE, and Beacon’s recent delisting notice from Nasdaq have together severely restricted Beacon’s access to additional investments through the equity markets," CEO F. William Capp alleged in papers filed during Sunday’s bankruptcy proceedings.
One of the many goals of the Occupy Wall Street orchestrators has clearly been to paint America’s richest one percent of the population as the antagonists to the country's prosperity and to the lower and middle classes. Coming to the defense of the top one percent, however, is financial expert Peter Schiff, CEO and chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital Inc. and former economic adviser to GOP presidential contender Ron Paul. Schiff visited the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations last Friday in lower Manhattan holding a sign that read, “I am the 1%. Let’s talk,” and brought along a film crew to video his encounters. His purpose, he said, was to “motivate these protesters and try to educate them about what caused the financial crisis.” He explained that he believes that their anger is “justified, but broadly misdirected.” “It’s not capitalism that has failed them,” emphasized Schiff, "it’s socialism, it’s corporatism, crony capitalism, it’s fascism. That’s the problem. Capitalism is the solution, if we can only fully embrace it.” The video footage effectively reveals what happens when the so-called “99%” are confronted with legitimate questions regarding their philosophies. As noted by Schiff, the protesters immediately became defensive when he asked them how much of his own hard-earned money he should be permitted to keep. They shouted that the federal government should eliminate the Bush tax cuts, prompting Schiff to respond, “I am giving the government half of what I earn. You think they should take more? [If they get rid of the Bush tax cuts] I’ll be paying more than 50 percent in taxes.”
The Obama administration is pushing to leave more troops in the Persian Gulf and to create a regional equivalent of NATO in the Arabic Middle East, according to the New York Times. "After unsuccessfully pressing both the Obama administration and the Iraqi government to permit as many as 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011, the Pentagon is now drawing up an alternative," the New York Times reported October 30. Part of that plan may be to leave additional troops in Kuwait, for years a staging area for the Iraq war, or simply to float a larger naval fleet in the Persian Gulf. But the Obama administration has another alternative they are floating to create "security" in the Islamic world, the New York Times reported: "The administration and the military are trying to foster a new 'security architecture' for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense." That "security architecture" may include boosting existing security alliances in the Arab world, especially the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a 30-year-old group of six Persian Gulf dictatorships led by Saudi Arabia. The GCC is both a NATO and European Common Market-style organization with a customs union agreement that was inked in 2003. The GCC's six nations on the Arabian peninsula together have one trillion dollars in GDP, and the GCC is considering membership requests from Jordan and Morocco. "Another part of the administration’s post-Iraq planning involves the Gulf Cooperation Council, dominated by Saudi Arabia," the New York Times reported. "It has increasingly sought to exert its diplomatic and military influence in the region and beyond. Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, for example, sent combat aircraft to the Mediterranean as part of the NATO-led intervention in Libya, while Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates each have forces in Afghanistan."
As Tea Party supporters cast about for an alternative to the flip-flopping Mitt Romney (and his long history of political liberalism), an increasing number are turning their eyes back to a face from the political past: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. But is Newt Gingrich the new "anti-Romney," or is he simply another Mitt Romney? Despite Gingrich's masterful performance of conservative rhetoric during presidential debates, Tea Party supporters may find Gingrich's record surprisingly liberal and comparable to Romney's record. Conservative opposition to Mitt Romney has focused upon two major issues, Romney's initiation of an individual health care mandate in Massachusetts — which served as the model for Obamacare — and Romney's support for the Wall Street bailouts under the Bush/Obama TARP program. Gingrich's Support of the Individual Mandate and Federal Health Care Newt Gingrich has campaigned on a pledge to repeal Obamacare, but he also has a long history of supporting the same government healthcare mandates in Romneycare and Obamacare. In campaign videos, Gingrich insists that “I am completely opposed to the Obamacare mandate on individuals. I fought it for two and a half years at the Center for Health Transformation." But in a May 15, 2011 interview on NBC's Meet the Press with host David Gregory, Gingrich admitted he has long sought an individual mandate by government:  
When news of sexual harassment charges against GOP presidential contender Herman Cain first broke, the Cain camp refused to fully address the allegations. As the story went viral, however, Cain’s campaign was forced to answer the claims, but the facts have still not been clarified, as Cain’s explanation of the events is full of inconsistencies. Cain is accused of having sexually harassed two different women during his 1996-99 tenure as president and CEO of the National Restaurant Association. Reports indicate that the women were asked to sign financial agreements with the group to leave the association, which barred the women from talking about their departures. Politico first learned of the allegations some time ago, but did not break the story until after several weeks of investigation and research. When Cain was initially questioned on the sexual harassment charges this past weekend, his response was, “I had thousands of people working for me” at a variety of different businesses over the years, adding that he needs “some facts or some concrete evidence.” Later, however, Cain’s spokesman J.D. Gordon indicated that Cain was “vaguely familiar” with the charges in question, but that the matter had already been resolved by Peter Kilgore, the general counsel for the restaurant association.
Though GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain is struggling to contend with allegations of sexual harassment that date back to his tenure as CEO and president of the National Restaurant Association, reports indicate that his campaign was already in hot water prior to this weekend’s breaking news story. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Cain’s “two top campaign aides ran a private Wisconsin-based corporation that helped the GOP presidential candidate get his fledgling campaign off the ground by originally footing the bill for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses for such items as iPads, chartered flights and travel to Iowa and Las Vegas —something that might breach federal tax and campaign law, according to sources and documents.” That private Wisconsin-based corporation is Prosperity USA, a tax-exempt non-profit organization owned and operated by Mark Block, Cain’s current chief of staff and deputy chief of staff, respectively. According to that organization’s financial records, which were obtained by No Quarter, the Cain campaign owed Prosperity USA approximately $40,000 for items purchased in February and March.
The fight to enforce the mandates of the Tenth Amendment continues as one local police department looks to line its pockets by “cooperating” with the feds in exchange for a cut of the money derived from seizures of property associated with drug busts. In an unusual twist on the now typical scenario of a state government refusing to accede to the demands of an overreaching federal authority, the most recent defense of the right of a state to be self-governing is coming from a private citizen. Russell Caswell’s family has owned the Motel Caswell in Tewskbury, Massachusetts, for nearly half a century, but because of a drug deal carried out by a guest, the federal government is claiming the right to seize the property and wrest the inn from the Caswell family. Mr. Caswell, 68, is not going down without a fight, however. He is determined to keep the $57-a-night motel in the family. Caswell’s position is buoyed by a recent Supreme Court decision where a similar issue was raised. Put simply, Caswell’s legal team avers that the Department of Justice cannot seize property where the owner of the property is not accused of any crime. In the present case, Mr. Caswell is not charged with any crime. For its part, the DOJ is seeking application of a law that authorizes seizure of property where the property is the site of criminal activity.
Bobby Montoya, a seven-year-old boy living with his mother in Denver, wants to join the Girl Scouts, and the group’s Colorado headquarters says that’s okay. As reported by ABC News, a Girl Scout official originally told Felisha Archuleta that her son could not join a local Girl Scout troop, but, sensing a public relations nightmare, the group quickly changed its mind. According to Archuleta, her son has believed he was a girl since he was two years old, and the mother has apparently done little to reconcile him to his true gender. “I believe he was born in the wrong body,” she told ABC News. “I thought Bobby would grow out of it. For birthdays, he asked for ponies. He had a princess birthday, and last year when he turned 7, he had a Rapunzel birthday. I have just basically supported him.” However, Archuleta had trouble transferring that support to a local Girl Scout leader, who was dumbfounded at the mother’s request to let her son join the girl’s group. She recalled that “the Girl Scout leader told us he can’t join because he has ‘boy parts.’ … But no one would know he’s a boy unless they pulled his pants down.”
In late September the Wisconsin Education Association Trust (WEA Trust) announced that it had successfully outbid another insurance carrier to provide health insurance coverage for some 11,000 state employees in west-central Wisconsin. WEA Trust President Mark Moody happily concluded, “It really affirms, independently and objectively, that our rates are competitive.” The WEA Trust, created in 1970 by Wisconsin’s largest teachers' union, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, had become the epicenter for criticism that its collective bargaining rules kept local school districts from requesting bids from competing health insurance companies even though there was the potential for substantial savings in doing so. When the new rules became law on June 29, many districts took advantage of the freedom to request bids, and discovered that in many cases they were greatly overpaying to buy the union’s insurance. The school district in Hudson, Wisconsin, is expected to save at least $1.1 million a year while the Kaukauna School District, near Appleton, turned a $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus mostly due to changing insurance carriers. Hartland-Lakeside School District has reduced its insurance premiums from $2.5 million annually to $1.8 million, Pewaukee School District is saving nearly $400,000 a year by switching out of WEA Trust, and Menomonee Falls School District expects to save $1.3 million.
Two authors of a new study hailed to end the climate change debate once and for all are at odds over what the report actually does prove. Climatologist Judith Curry accuses her colleague and scientific director Richard Muller of another Climategate trick to "hide the decline." Curry and Muller belong to a team of researchers at the University of California known as the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project. While Muller claims their research shows global warming of nearly 1°C since 1950, Curry told The Mail on Sunday, "There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn't stopped. To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data." The BEST graph of global temperatures over the past 200 years reveals a pronounced spike in temperatures since the mid-20th century. Ignoring the fact that climate change skeptics mainly question whether humans are responsible for global warming (and not whether warming is occurring), Muller asserted in the Wall Street Journal that the data proves "why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer." But now that other climatologists have had time to analyze BEST's research, a different picture has emerged. Science editor Dr. David Whitehouse of the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) charted a new graph based on the raw data from BEST. "It is a statistically perfect straight line of zero gradient," announced Whitehouse. "Could it really be the case that Professor Muller has not looked at the data in an appropriate way to see the last ten years clearly?"
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