CNN discusses case where former Marine's arrest for carrying a concealed handgun in NYC

Solyndra destroying company assets?

Why would a bankrupt company that owes billions be destroying millions of dollars of assets? CBS's local affiliate in Fremont, Ca. has this investigation.


Newt's answer on the marriage issue

I had problems with Newt's ex-wife's claims because her statement seemed to clearly contain other embellishments. For example, she claimed that Newt called her when he was in bed with Callista. How would she have known that he was in bed with Callista? Would any one call up and discuss such an issue as the ex-wife claimed when they were in bed with someone else?

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So what do we make of the Government Clearing GM over Volt's battery fires?

There are numerous news stories over the US ending its probe over Chevy Volt battery fires. But where are there mentions over the biases that the administration has already shown over this issue (remember the whole concern over the "fragility of Volt sales"). Here is something from Bloomberg:

U.S. regulators, who ended their investigation yesterday into the Chevrolet Volt, said electric- powered vehicles do not pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline cars.
“Based on the available data, NHTSA does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles,” the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in an e-mailed statement. . . .

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Some news coverage on Meredith Graves

From the New York Daily News:

A Tennessee lawmaker angry that a home state tourist was busted with a loaded gun at Ground Zero introduced is threatening to go after New Yorkers who speed in his state.

In a resolution, Tennessee state Rep. Frank Niceley asked New York to “use common sense” in the case of Meredith Graves, who had a .32 caliber pistol in her purse and says she didn’t know that wasn’t legal in the city.

Nicely concluded his motion: “Be it further resolved that we remind the citizens of New York, especially those residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great State of Tennessee, paying extra attention to our speed limits.”

Niceley said his threat against New Yorkers, who he said tend to speed through Tennessee on their way to Florida, was meant lightheartedly. . . .

Bloomberg spokesman Marc LaVorgna had a tart reply. “We agree, everyone should use common sense — which is what prosecutors in New York do,” he said. “Common sense also includes checking gun laws before traveling — something even the NRA tells people to do.” . . .

Mark Bederow, a lawyer representing other tourists arrested for carrying licensed guns in the city, said the Tennessee resolution is a symbolic gesture that highlights what a “grave miscarriage of justice” it would be to prosecute what is “clearly a misunderstanding.” . . .

The New York Post was less sympathetic:

Gun nuts in the Tennessee state legislature have declared civil war on New Yorkers — saying they will retaliate for the prosecution of a woman who was carrying an illegal pistol at the 9/11 Memorial.
A resolution winding its way through the Tennessee legislature warns New Yorkers not to drive through their state — because the Highway Patrol is “gunning” for us.. . . .

Graves faces a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 3 1/2 years if convicted of felony weapons possession; prosecutors have not said if they will seek an indictment on that or on a lesser charge. . . .

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Some Dems in Congress want national board to determine what reasonable oil company profits would be

From The Hill newspaper:

Six House Democrats, led by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), want to set up a "Reasonable Profits Board" to control gas profits.

The Democrats, worried about higher gas prices, want to set up a board that would apply a "windfall profit tax" as high as 100 percent on the sale of oil and gas, according to their legislation. The bill provides no specific guidance for how the board would determine what constitutes a reasonable profit.

The Gas Price Spike Act, H.R. 3784, would apply a windfall tax on the sale of oil and gas that ranges from 50 percent to 100 percent on all surplus earnings exceeding "a reasonable profit." It would set up a Reasonable Profits Board made up of three presidential nominees that will serve three-year terms. Unlike other bills setting up advisory boards, the Reasonable Profits Board would not be made up of any nominees from Congress. . . .



British Poll Shows Large differences Perceived Intolerance Towards different Groups

It is interesting how small a share of the population these different minority groups make in the UK. Pakistanis make up 1.9% of the population in 2009, Bangladeshis make up 0.7%, and Blacks of all types make up 2.9% (African blacks make up 1.5%). I can't easily find the share for Romani, so I assume that it is very small. I thought that discrimination might be related in someway to their population shares, but that isn't immediately obvious from the data. See the poll data here:

More than half of respondents (54%) believe the UK is an intolerant society towards people of Romani origin, and almost half (49%) believe Arabs face comparable treatment. Other groups perceived to be receiving intolerance are Pakistanis (43%), Bangladeshis (37%) and Black Africans (30%). . . .

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Even Obama's own hand picked CEO advisors what him to change his regulatory approach

It turns out that Steve Jobs hasn't been the only business executive warning Obama about his policies. From Reuters:

President Barack Obama's jobs council called on Tuesday for a corporate tax overhaul, expanded domestic drilling and new regulatory reforms, a set of proposals unlikely to provide a quick fix for high unemployment or gain much traction in an election year.
A panel of top U.S. business leaders advising Obama - whose re-election chances could hinge on whether he can boost the fragile economy - offered its latest job-creation prescriptions at a meeting with him at the White House.
Obama pledged to "push as hard as possible" on their recommendations but also sought to temper expectations. "Obviously this year is an election year, and so getting Congress focused on some of these issues may be difficult," he cautioned his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. . . .
"With this report, President Obama's own panel of experts has endorsed the approach to job creation House Republicans have been pursuing for more than a year," Republican House Speaker John Boehner said in a statement. . . .

A new Harvard Business School survey of their MBAs confirms these fears.

A new survey of the business school's alumni found that nearly three-quarters of respondents expect the U.S. to be less competitive over the next three years. They said the U.S. is losing ground to emerging economies, where low wages, increasingly skilled workers, growing markets and proximity to customers frequently trump traditional American strengths such as sophisticated infrastructure, a reliable legal system and effective macroeconomic policy.

The survey is part of a multiyear Harvard Business School project on U.S. competitiveness. Its authors, Harvard professors Michael Porter and Jan Rivkin, defined competitiveness as a two-pronged condition in which firms operating in the U.S. can not only win business but also foster rising living standards for American workers. "If businesses win and wages go down, that isn't competitiveness. If wages go up but businesses are losing, that's not competitiveness either," Mr. Porter said.

Pessimism on both counts ran high, but American workers may face longer odds of success in the global economy than corporations do.

While 45% of the study's 9,750 respondents said U.S. companies will be less able to compete with their overseas counterparts in the near future, 64% said those companies will be less able to offer high wages and benefits at home. About a quarter of the respondents identified themselves as chief executives, founders or equivalents. . . .

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New Fox News piece: Should New York tourists have their lives destroyed because of concealed carry laws?

My newest piece starts this way:

Just a few days before Christmas, Meredith Graves made a mistake that could end her medical career and send her to prison for at least 3 ½ years. The 39-year-old fourth-year medical student was carrying a permitted concealed handgun when she saw the sign at the 9/11 Memorial saying “No guns allowed.” She did the responsible thing and asked a security guard where she could check her weapon. Unfortunately, while her Tennessee concealed carry license is recognized in 40 states, New York isn’t one of them. Meredith was arrested.
A week earlier, Californian Mark Meckler told LaGuardia Airport officials that he had licensed handgun in a locked safe in checked baggage. At virtually any other airport in the country, checking a gun locked in a box wouldn’t be a problem. Meckler was arrested and charged with second-degree possession of an illegal weapons. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Even New York’s second most powerful Democrat and a strong gun control advocate, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver thinks that tourists who accidentally break the state’s strict carry laws shouldn’t have their lives destroyed. “Her actions show a clear indication that she didn’t know she was breaking the law, and when she saw the sign, she said, ‘OK, I do have a gun. Take it from me.’ There was no criminal intent,” said Silver.
As the Tennessean newspaper (Nashville) put it: “[Meredith’s] arrest highlights the confusing patchwork of concealed weapons laws across the nation.”
But New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the local District Attorneys don’t seem interested in showing mercy. . . .

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"Frank Luntz Analyzes GOP South Carolina Debate"



A transcript of the South Carolina Republican Debate, January 16, 2012, sponsored by Fox News

A transcript of the debate is available here. I don't think that Romney's answers help him very much here. It is my understanding that Romney didn't try to work to make the gun law that he discusses here any better.

WILLIAMS: Gov Romney, Speaker Gingrich says your record of support for gun owners is weak. You signed the nation’s first ban on assault weapons in Massachusetts and steeply increased fees on gun owners in that state, in fact by 400 percent. How can you convince gun owners that you will be an advocate for them as president?

ROMNEY: Well, Juan, in my state we had a piece of legislation that was crafted both by the pro gun lobby and the anti-gun lobby. Massachusetts has some very restrictive rules and the pro gun lobby said, you know what, this legislation is good for us, it includes provisions that we want that allows us, for instance, to crossroads with weapons when we’re hunting that had not been previously allowed.
And so the pro gun folks in our state, the the Gun Owners Action League and others said, look, we would like you to sign this legislation. And the day when we announced our signing, we had both the pro gun owners and anti-bun folks all together on the stage because it worked. We worked together. We found common ground.
My view is that we have the second amendment right to bear arms and in this country my view is also that we should not add new legislation. I know that there are people that think we need new laws, we need to find new ways to restrict gun ownership. And there is in Washington a non-stop effort on the part of some legislators, and I believe the president, to restrict the right of law-abiding American citizens from owning a gun.
I disagree with that. I believe we have in place all the laws we need. We should enforce those laws. I do not believe in new laws restricting gun ownership and gun use. . . .

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Is there really any credibility to Obama's claims on recess appointments?

Here is a brief note over what the Obama administration was arguing just over a year ago. From Fox News:
critics are pointing to another legal memo from the Justice Department that they claim is in conflict with the one issued Jan. 6 - and it comes from one of Obama's allies. In 2010, then-Solicitor General, now Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan authored a letter to the Supreme Court Clerk's Office with respect to recess appointments. While noting the president does have authority to make such appointments, Kagan added "... the Senate may act to foreclose this option by declining to recess for more than two or three days at a time..." In her Jan. 6th memo, Seitz addressed the 2010 Kagan memo and determined that it was not on point. . . .

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Obama as "Post-Constitutional" President

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15 year old girl points gun at robbers and they ran away

It would have been nice if the family had taught the girl how to fire the gun before hand, but just having it appears to have gotten the criminals to run away. From KTRK in Texas:

TEXAS CITY, TX (KTRK) -- Officials said a teen in Texas City was alone when a pair of intruders broke into her family's house, but she turned the tables on the suspects by grabbing her father's handgun.

It happened Saturday afternoon at the 15-year-old's home on Meadowlark.

Texas City police said it wasn't a home invasion. They believe it was a burglary and the goal was to steal the family's truck. But the would-be thieves had a spunky high school freshman standing in their way.

"She says she was in the bathroom showering and when she came out she met two intruders inside her house," neighbor Anthony Campbell said. "She run and got her dad's gun. And when she come out, they saw her with the gun and took off."

Police say one suspect ran into the garage and tried to start her father's pickup. The girl told investigators she followed him in there, pointed the gun at him and he ran away.

The other man ran too, but they were able to ransack the house.

"She was hysterical, crying and stuff," neighbor Raylene Morgan said.

Morgan said the girl is smart and an A student, but the confrontation left her upset. . . .



Obama's consolidation plans might actually save $3 billion total over 10 years

Wow, an average yearly cut of $300 million a year! Obama is really getting serious about reforming government waste. A video discussion is available here.

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So much for all those shovel ready jobs: the case of high-speed trains

From the Washington Post:

Critics began panning the first leg of California’s futuristic high-speed rail network as a “train to nowhere” soon after officials decided to build it not in the major population centers of Los Angeles or San Francisco, but through the state’s Central Valley farming belt. . . .

Obama set a goal of providing 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. But that lofty vision is yielding to the political gravity generated by high costs, determined opponents and a public that has grown dubious of government’s ability to do big things.

Virtually none of the projects has gotten off the ground, and the one that has is in trouble. . . . .

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So are environmentalists admitting that their other green energy offerings aren't working?

The beginning of this article sure seems to concede a lot. It is too bad that this wasn't understood before we put all the Stimulus dollars into all this. From ABC News:

Geothermal energy developers plan to pump 24 million gallons of water into the side of a dormant volcano in Central Oregon this summer to demonstrate new technology they hope will give a boost to a green energy sector that has yet to live up to its promise.

They hope the water comes back to the surface fast enough and hot enough to create cheap, clean electricity that isn't dependent on sunny skies or stiff breezes — without shaking the earth and rattling the nerves of nearby residents.

Renewable energy has been held back by cheap natural gas, weak demand for power and waning political concern over global warming. Efforts to use the earth's heat to generate power, known as geothermal energy, have been further hampered by technical problems and worries that tapping it can cause earthquakes. . . .

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Obama has been to church six times since becoming president?

It looks like that there has been a sudden flurry of the Obama's attending church. From the Washington Post:

He has attended St. John’s Episcopal Church several times — most recently in December — but the Obamas have been only occasional churchgoers. . . . Each time the president has stepped into an African American church in the District since his inauguration — six times, to be exact . . .

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It turns out that governments might not be that great a giving out mortgages

So is the government really able to do a good job lending out taxpayer money? Does a default rate three times higher than other financial institutions in the area look good? Of course, DC has lots of extra money that they don't mind throwing away. From the Washington Post:

D.C. housing officials have routinely subsidized home purchases that low-income buyers could not afford, paving the way for foreclosures, liens and financial hardships.

Nearly one in five buyers participating in the city’s 35-year-old loan program for first-time homeowners is behind on mortgage payments, city officials said — a default rate that’s at least three times higher than the overall rate in the region. Nearly 50 buyers have received notices of foreclosure in recent years, while more than 50 others have struggled with homeowner association or utility liens, The Washington Post has found.

DeAngelo McDonald, a Metro bus driver and father of six who earns $61,000 a year, financed a $338,000 house in 2008, in part with a loan from the city, paying double what city loan officials had estimated he could afford. His three-bedroom home in Southeast is now in foreclosure.

“I was a first-time home buyer thinking that everything was on the up and up,” said McDonald, 48, who declared bankruptcy in 2009. “At any minute, we could be out on the street. It’s heartbreaking. It’s scary. I don’t know what could happen, especially with my kids.”

For more than three decades, the District has helped buyers offset the cost of housing with loans for as much as $77,000. . . .

Now the state legislature in Washington State is talking about setting up a state bank.

The idea of a state bank - a favorite of the Occupy movement that sees it as an alternative to Wall Street - has strong support among the Democrats who control the state House. Speaker Frank Chopp called it a top priority last week in a speech opening this year's session of the Legislature.

"I think people see this as a form of empowerment, that we're going to try to do something in our state to regain control over the safety of our finances," said David Spring, a community-college instructor from North Bend who has spoken at Occupy rallies.Skeptics wonder where the money would come from to accomplish the bank's goals, such as making low-interest loans to college students and to local governments for public works.

Republican lawmakers and the Democratic state treasurer, Jim McIntire, say government programs already exist to serve those functions. The Public Works Trust Fund loans out hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Washington's local governments for infrastructure, and an alphabet soup of agencies have similar goals, including the Community Economic Revitalization Board, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, and the Transportation State Infrastructure Bank. . . .

"Why set up a whole new bureaucracy?" asked Rep. Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor. "And one step leads to another step and next thing you know we have a full-blown financial institution that is in direct competition with our financial industry - which by the way is very good in this state." . . .

The proposed Washington state bank is modeled on the 93-year-old, state-run Bank of North Dakota. . . .


Tesla stock falls by over 19% on Friday

Telsa's stock crashed on Friday. On Friday, two of the companies top engineers announced that they were leaving. And also Ford announced a relatively attractive hybrid car that will be about $18,000 cheaper than the base Tesla model S.

When Ford (NYSE: F) took the wraps off its impressive new Fusion sedan on Monday, analysts and industry watchers (including this humble Fool) immediately started pondering the possibilities: Would this be the car that would finally knock Toyota's (NYSE: TM) Camry off its best-selling pedestal?

The answer to that question isn't simple. Toyota has had its troubles but retains fierce consumer loyalty, but a couple of days after the car's debut, another question struck me: Could the Fusion -- specifically, the Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid version that's due later this year -- be a problem for Tesla Motors (Nasdaq: TSLA)? . . .

On the top engineers leaving, it raises the question about what they know about the company's future.

Having traded in a tight range for most of the day, Tesla Motors (TSLA) collapsed in the last 45 minutes of trading on Friday. The stock hit a low of 22.64 and closed at 22.79, down 19.3% from its previous close. Although it was reported to have bounced 7% in after hours trading, the price action remains a clear worry. More worryingly, the move took place on what became the third highest volume day of the last 52 weeks - with just over 5.5 million shares changing hands.

The stock indeed closed down 35% from the $35 high it saw twice in November and December of last year.

The move took place after Tesla confirmed that Chief engineer Peter Rawlinson and Nick Sampson, supervisor of vehicle and chassis engineering, had left the company.

Not much has been said publicly about the moves. However, in an emailed statement attributed to spokesman Ricardo Reyes, Tesla made the following comments to Investor's Business Daily -

"Having completed conceptual and design engineering work on Model S, Peter has decided to step away to tend to personal matters in the U.K., ... Nick Sampson is no longer with Tesla. He had fully transitioned from any Model S activities by the time of his departure." . . .

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Is the US still a free country?

Might the Supreme Court finally restrict apartment rent controls?

When do regulations represent a taking? How about if the law lets a tenant and his relatives rent your apartment forever? Richard Epstein has the discussion here.

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Some countries reversing decisions on CFL light bulbs

From the Jerusalem Post:

Each CFL contains small quantities of mercury and other toxins. If a bulb breaks at home, its fragments are dangerous to bare skin and need special handling and cleaning up. Even vacuum cleaners won’t do because they might spread the contamination.

When tossed in the trash CFLs can cause unimaginable havoc in garbage dumps and landfills – harm that far offsets the benefits of energy saving. When mercury enters water sources, biological processes change the chemical form to composites more noxious than found in contaminated fish. Once in the food chain and subsequently in the body, CFL-origin mercury can impair developing fetuses, and children’s and adult’s nervous systems.

Fashions notwithstanding, some intrusive governments have slowly begun to take note of the CFLs’ dark underside. New Zealand, for example, has backtracked from banning incandescent lights due to concerns about safety and even the energy efficiency of the CFLs.

Doubts are also appearing in Germany. Some Green NGOs, such as the World Wildlife Fund, have dared to break with the political correctness that shielded CFLs from more critical appraisal. . . .


S&P says that "euro zone's policy response to the debt crisis has been largely misguided"

Note that S&P doesn't think that "more fiscal stimulus" will help Europe. The countries that have been doing best (Germany and Poland) didn't follow the Keynesian policy prescriptions advocated by Obama. From the WSJ:

Standard & Poor's analysts on Saturday defended their downgrades of more than half of the euro zone's 17 members, as the highest-profile victim of the mass ratings cut—France—looked to play down the impact.

In a conference call hours after the downgrades, S&P analysts said they stood by their moves as they believe the euro zone's policy response to the debt crisis has been largely misguided and is building up future risks.

"The proper diagnosis would have to give more weight to the ... rising imbalances in the euro zone," said Moritz Kramer, head of European sovereign ratings. He pointed to problems such as divergences in competitiveness from one country to another, which he said is reflected in huge imbalances in national current accounts.

Mr. Kramer said the centerpiece of a December summit aimed at arresting the crisis, the adoption of tighter fiscal rules to avoid excessive deficits, "wouldn't have identified the risks" in advance as Germany had one of the largest budget deficits of all during the first 10 years of the euro's existence, whereas Spain, which is a problem area now, had a largely balanced budget.

But Mr. Kramer stressed that S&P isn't calling for more fiscal stimulus from the countries with the biggest debt problems, saying that they have neither the room, nor enough credibility in the debt markets, to try to spend their way out of trouble.

"That certainly wouldn't be regarded as a credit positive, not by our metrics at least," Mr. Kramer said.

Something more worrisome is on the horizon. If only the Europeans could deal with these pesky bond holders, the same way Obama dealt with the GM and Chrysler bond holders. From Market Watch:

but the real story is that the Greek bond “negotiations” on a “haircut” have broken down once again. The dudes in power over there are trying to put a good face on it and are sure they can get a deal done next week…but the markets appear to be running out of patience. . . .

Portugal is just barely above "non-investment grade." Greece is "likely to default."

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Impact of increasing retirement age on the size of the economy

From the CBO blog:

Raising any of the ages of eligibility would cause some people to work longer, thereby increasing the size of the workforce and the economy. Although the magnitude of those effects is difficult to predict, CBO estimates that:

Raising Social Security’s early eligibility age to 64 or the full retirement age to 70 would, in the long term, boost the size of the workforce and the economy by slightly more than 1 percent.
Raising Medicare’s eligibility age to 67 would also boost the size of the workforce and the economy, but by a much smaller amount.

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Mitt Romney on gun control

From the Examiner:

“Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts,” Romney said, at a bill signing ceremony on July 1 with legislators, sportsmen’s groups and gun safety advocates. “These guns are not made for recreation or self-defense. They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.” . . .

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"900 Dead People Voted In SC"

So Democrats claim that there is no evidence of vote fraud? Try this story from WYFF TV Channel 4 in Greenville, SC (January 11, 2012):

South Carolina’s attorney general is asking for an investigation into possible voter fraud in the state.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Alan Wilson asked State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel to review evidence of potential voter fraud in the state.
Wilson said the evidence of fraud was uncovered by Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles Kevin Shwedo during an extensive review of data related to the state's new voter identification law.
"Director Shwedo's research has revealed evidence that over 900 deceased people appear to have 'voted' in recent elections in South Carolina," said Wilson. "This is an alarming number, and clearly necessitates an investigation into potential criminal activity. I have asked SLED Chief Keel to review Director Shwedo's research." . . .