The Obama administration’s track record with taxpayer-funded, green-tech subsidies is severely flawed, and according to new documents obtained by CBS News, its failures were all too predictable. The Energy Department's $535-million loan guarantee to Solyndra is, at least publicly, its most illustrious investment blunder, as the company went bankrupt last year leaving taxpayers with a hefty bill and putting more than 1,000 employees out of work. All in all, 12 green energy companies are in financial disorder after collectively receiving more than $6.5 billion in government assistance, five of which have already filed for bankruptcy, including Solyndra, Beacon Power, SpectraWatt, Evergreen Solar, and AES’ subsidiary Eastern Energy. According to CBS News, these green-tech ventures were junk-bond-rated companies with red flags planted all over them. The first company under the spotlight is Beacon Power, a flywheel-based energy storage company which reaped $43 million from the Energy Department’s green energy program. The documents obtained by CBS News show that Standard & Poor’s had confidentially branded the Beacon project with a dismal "CCC+" rating, previous to the loan’s completion.
The Black Hills of South Dakota have long been associated with the four U.S. Presidents who adorn Mount Rushmore. The granite faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln have been etched into the American imagination. Yet a fifth granite face has emerged from the Black Hills in the form of the famous Lakota leader Crazy Horse.
Calling it the “most significant religious liberty decision in two decades,” the New York Times announced the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the “ministerial exception” whereby churches and other religious organizations are exempt from governmental interference in their hiring and firing practices. In a unanimous 9-0 decision on January 11, the Court said that churches have an overriding “interest ... in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith and carry out their mission.” The case started when a teacher at a Lutheran school in Redford, Michigan, was fired for threatening to sue the school over an alleged discrimination violation. Cheryl Perich was diagnosed with narcolepsy and took a leave of absence. When she tried to return, she learned that the school had hired someone else to take her place. When she threatened a lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, she was fired for violating the church’s doctrine by pursuing litigation rather than trying to resolve the situation internally. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) got involved and filed suit against the school. When the court ruled in favor of the school, the EEOC appealed. The appeals court reversed the decision, and the school took the case to the Supreme Court. At issue were core First Amendment rights: the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, to wit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
With so many of our most essential liberties under attack from the oligarchy on the Potomac, it is little wonder that the freedom of the press and speech are next on the government guillotine. The Department of Homeland Security’s National Operations Center (NOC) released its Publicly Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness Initiative last year and in that report the intelligence-gathering arm of the DHS, the Office of Operations Coordination and Planning (OPS) gives itself permission to “gather, store, analyze, and disseminate” data on millions of users of social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and business networking sites (Linkedin).
GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney is under fire after news reports surfaced showing that his company, Bain Capital, benefited from multiple federal bailouts amounting to well over $50 million. The top-tier Republican candidate has flip-flopped on the issue of whether or not taxpayers should be forced to bail out private firms, but critics have seized on his controversial work at Bain to attack his candidacy from all angles. The scandal over Romney’s federal bailouts first surged to prominence after a former strategist for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy publicly released an unaired campaign ad — made nearly a decade ago when Romney was running for the Massachusetts Senate seat — exposing a $10-million federal bailout of Bain & Co. while Romney was at the helm. The attack ad, citing a 1994 report in the Boston Globe, noted that Romney worked with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) to bamboozle the American people out of money under the guise of “debt forgiveness.” “Mitt Romney says he saved Bain & Company, but he didn’t tell you that on the day he took over, he had his predecessor fire hundreds of employees, or that the way the company was rescued was with a federal bailout of $10 million,” notes the narrator in Sen. Kennedy’s unreleased ad as pictures of newspaper articles fill the screen. “He and others made $4 million in this deal which cost ordinary people $10 million.”
The government of Greece is catching flack over its decision to add some questionable categories to its list of recognized disabilities. As reported by the Associated Press, disability groups in the country were especially outraged over the government’s decision to add pedophiles to its list of those the state recognizes as disabled individuals. Among the other “disabled” categories added to the list were exhibitionists, kleptomaniacs, pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists, and sadomasochists.
With the announcement by Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, that Trustmark Life Insurance Company’s recent increases in premiums for their health insurance were “excessive” comes the certain result: A few may be helped, but many will be harmed. She declared, “It’s time for Trustmark to immediately rescind these rate [increases], issue refunds to consumers or publicly explain their refusal to do so.” Under ObamaCare’s usurpations of prior state law, any premium increases of more than 10 percent are to be reviewed and if determined to be unreasonable, made subject to public exposure and pressure to abide by the agency’s dictates as to what is reasonable. A spokeswoman for Trustmark, Cindy Gallaher, responded to Sebelius: “We respectfully disagree with the assumptions and conclusions drawn today by the Department of Health and Human Services. Our premiums are driven by the rising cost and increased utilization of medical services.”
Over half of U.S. immigration officials believe the White House focuses more heavily on promoting immigration than improving national security, according to a 2011 survey directed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS Inspector General (IG) audit, which was administered between January and May 2011, submitted an online survey to a random selection of Immigration Services Officers (ISOs) in all 26 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) districts across the United States. According to the IG, the questions examined the agency’s "FY 2011 performance measures, pressure to adjudicate cases, and overall impressions about the USCIS mission." In 2010, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to the Inspector General (Todd Zinser), the USCIS Director (Alejandro Mayorkas), and the Secretary of Homeland Security (Janet Napolitano) expressing several concerns he had about the immigration benefit adjudication system. In requesting the report, Grassley asked the DHS to evaluate the following matters:
Despite his advanced age, it appears Warren Buffett has never heard the admonition, “Practice what you preach.” And it seems that some of his apologists haven’t, either. As you may know, Buffett has long been urging the government to seize more money from the rich, with the rationale that they have an obligation to pay more. In response, many traditionalists have told him to put up or shut up: If he truly believes in what he says, there’s nothing stopping him from writing a check to Big Brother as large as his socialism-espousing mouth. And now Buffett has a response:
The 10th anniversary of the opening of the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility was Wednesday. On January 11, 2002, the first 20 prisoners arrived at the U.S. naval base in Cuba, being ordered detained as suspected “enemy combatants” in the global War on Terror which was initiated by the Congress and the President (without, it must be remembered, a declaration of war as mandated by the Constitution) in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.