Feed aggregator

R Street / CDT Happy Hour at SXSW

Out of the Storm News - March 14, 2015, 12:00 PM

Sorry, this event is by invitation only.

R Street Panels at SXSW

Out of the Storm News - March 13, 2015, 3:00 AM
Join the R Street Institute in Austin, Texas for three policy-focused panels during SXSW Interactive.

Heartland Daily Podcast – Ron Arnold: Climate Alarmism Power Grab

Somewhat Reasonable - March 03, 2015, 4:36 PM

In this edition of The Heartland Daily Podcast, Research Fellow and Managing Editor of Environment and Climate News H. Sterling Burnett sits down with Environmental writer, activist and Heartland Policy Advisor Ron Arnold. Arnold and Burnett discuss Arnold’s environmental work.

Arnold discusses his history of fighting for the rights of landowners and public users in the Western U.S. and his contemporary work exposing the lurid details and dirty dealings undertaken by leaders of the climate alarmists’ movement to censor a true understanding of climate science and the costs of proposed climate policies. Arnold also discusses the legacy of scandal plaguing UN Climate Chief Ranjendra Pachauri who was forced to resign this week.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]

Categories: On the Blog

Lobbying the Chief Justice (again)

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - March 03, 2015, 4:34 PM
Back in May 2012, after the progressive intelligentsia had launched its “Disdain Campaign” against the conservative justices in general and Chief Justice…

Who Wins With Obama’s Net Neutrality?

Somewhat Reasonable - March 03, 2015, 3:03 PM

The Barack Obama Administration’s Thursday Internet uber-power grab is awful for just about every American.  It will lead to dramatically more expensive Web access – because of both raised service costs and huge new taxes.

And we will see a spiraling, regressive devolution of speed.  It will be a return to the spinning wheel of Web-waiting death.  When government regulation increases – private investment decreases.  When investment goes – forward progress goes with it.  And this Obama power grab is lots and lots and LOTS of regulation. The government just turned backwards the clock on the unfathomable increases in speeds we’ve seen fore two-plus decades.

Remember 28k dial-up?  If not, you’ll be reminded of it here in a bit – and you’ll be paying $200 per month for it.

All of this leads one to ask – who actually wanted this grab?

—-  The Useful Idiots —-

Soviet Communist leader Vladimir Lenin is purported to have referred to those unknowingly helping the Collectivist cause as “useful idiots.”

There are many people who were very vocal about Net Neutrality – who had zero idea about what they were speaking.  And had zero idea that what the Administration just did is to Net Neutrality what a single plankton is to a blue whale.

For instance, there is Tumblr founder David Karp – who just about singlehandedly convinced President Obama to ramp up the grab.  He last week appeared on CNBC.  And in response to fairly rudimentary facts he – after multi-second flubberings and silences while the mouse in his head repeatedly had to retake its treadmill – blubbered things like “I confess, that’s not my area of expertise.”

Then there is Congressman Hank Johnson – who just wrote an op-ed defending the Administration’s huge grab.  Congressman Johnson is most famous for thinking islands with too many people on them will “tip over and capsize.”

Think HBO comedian John Oliver has any idea what’s actually going on?

Thank goodness guys like these are helping to lead this charge.

—- The Left Leadership —-

The Left consists of two groups of people.  The Useful Idiots – who think these horrendous ideas are good ones.  And the Leadership – who know they are awful and will destroy everything, but they’ll be in charge after the grand collapse so they don’t mind so much.

What government touches – it destroys.  The Internet has become a free speech-free market Xanadu precisely because it had remained pretty much untouched by government.  No longer.  The Administrations “fundamental transformation” hadn’t yet gotten to the Web – now it has.

One of the leaders of the Media Marxist Movement is college professor Robert McChesney.  He knows what Net Neutrality really means.

“(T)he ultimate goal (of net neutrality) is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.

How very Hugo Chavez of them.  What else does the good professor have to say?

“Our job is to make media reform part of our broader struggle for democracy, social justice, and, dare we say it, socialism.


—- The Crony Socialists —-

Then there are the giant Friends of Obama companies who will benefit tremendously from this – first among them Netflix and Google.  These two companies alone consume more than half of all U.S. Web traffic.  And the Administration’s grab just outlawed their being charged for it.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) can only charge two people for the bandwidth they build.  Hogs like Netflix and Google – or us.  So our prices will skyrocket – to augment the profits of Hogs like Netflix and Google.  Net Neutral, right?

How Crony Socialist was all this?  The Administration’s Obama-campaign-coin-bundling Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler steadfastly refused to take any input from the Commissions two Republicans.  He steadfastly refused to wait for Congress to go first – as the Commission is Constitutionally required to do.  He steadfastly refused to release to We the People the text of the grab prior to its Thursday ram-through.

But the day before said ram-through – this happened:

Tom Wheeler Tweaks Net Neutrality Plan After Google Push

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has made some last-minute revisions to his net neutrality plan after Google…pressed for the changes, according to sources at the commission.

The Obama Administration wouldn’t take input from Congress or Republicans on the Commission.  They wouldn’t let We the People read it.  But somehow Google got a copy, didn’t like part of it – and FCC head-waiter Wheeler dutifully took their order.

Who else benefits from the grab? Of course:

The Left gets to have the government hire – with our coin – their uber-over-charging Marxist attorney friends to defend the power grab. 

Here’s hoping this obnoxious uber-power-grab is dumped in court.  But…

Even When Government Power Grabs Are Overturned – The Left Wins

Heads-they-win – tails we-lose.  It’s all upside for the Crony Socialist, Useful Idiot Left.

[Originally published at Human Events


Categories: On the Blog

Romancing the Stone :: SteynOnline

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - March 03, 2015, 11:57 AM
by Mark Steyn March 2, 2015 http://www.steynonline.com/6837/romancing-the-stone Which friend of Congressman Raúl Grijalva sent the above email? I’m a little…

Why FCC Will Lose in Court on Title II Internet (80%) – A Legal House of Cards — A White Paper

Somewhat Reasonable - March 03, 2015, 10:03 AM

Link to full White Paper – here.


The FCC’s Open Internet Order, which reclassified the commercial Internet as a Title II utility, is very likely (80%) in the end, to be overturned in court – for a third time.

The FCC’s legal theory and many core assumptions are so aggressive, it’s clear that the FCC expects, and needs, continual and maximal deference from the court to prevail. The FCC also requires the courts to view the FCC’s most aggressive assertion of unbounded authority ever, as a mere administrative interpretation of ambiguous law, and not a political bypass of Congress and the 1996 Telecom Act.

The FCC’s case also has so many serious conceptually inter-dependent flaws that it is like a fragile house-of-cards, built of flimsy definitional, precedential, and factual assumptions. This means opponents only need to knock down one of the FCC’s supporting “cards” for the entire house of cards to collapse. In contrast, the FCC needs every card in its house of cards to withstand scrutiny and remain standing.

Simply the FCC’s case is politically strong, but legally weak.

As an analyst, one does not have to see the order’s final language to predict with confidence that the FCC’s case faces serious legal trouble overall, because the eight big conceptual legal problems spotlighted here are not dependent on the details of the FCC’s order.  After two FCC-failed court reviews in 2010 in Comcast v. FCC and 2014 in Verizon v. FCC, and decades of multiple Title II definitional and factual precedents completely contrary to the FCC’s current legal theory, the legal field-of-play is much more clear than usual or most appreciate.

Those who take the time to inform themselves of the FCC’s obvious and daunting legal problems will come away very-skeptical of the FCC’s chances of success after all appeals are exhausted.

I will revisit this Part I analysis to confirm the outcome’s likely probability, once the FCC’s legal case is known in better detail when the order is made public. However, absent a legal secret “FCC magic wand” yet unknown in this well-trod, high-scrutiny, eighty-year, Title II legal space, the general outcome probability 80% for the FCC to ultimately lose in court — is unlikely to change much.

Summary of the FCC’s Title II Legal House of Cards:

  1. FCC’s decision is not an administrative interpretation of law but a political bypass of Congress.
  2. FCC is not Congress and has no legislative authority to “modernize” communications law.
  3. FCC’s legal theory is a Rube Goldberg contrivance to manufacture legal authority.
  4. FCC’s legal theory recognizes no statutory bounds on FCC authority or jurisdiction.
  5. FCC reclassification assumes it can overrule legally-settled definitions and findings of fact.
  6. FCC asserts authority for an illegal goal; compel zero-price for service with no compensation.
  7. FCC is arbitrary & capricious ignoring large reliance interests & need for proportionality.
  8. FCC’s legal forbearance theory is inherently contradictory and thus arbitrary.

Click here to read the whole 12-page analysis and  White Paper.


FCC Open Internet Order Series

Part 1: The Many Vulnerabilities of an Open Internet [9-24-09]

Part 2: Why FCC proposed net neutrality regs unconstitutional, NPR Online Op-ed [9-24-09]

Part 3: Takeaways from FCC’s Proposed Open Internet Regs [10-22-09]

Part 4: How FCC Regulation Would Change the Internet [10-30-09]

Part 5: Is FCC Declaring ‘Open Season’ on Internet Freedom? [11-17-09]

Part 6: Critical Gaps in FCC’s Proposed Open Internet Regulations [11-30-09]

Part 7: Takeaways from the FCC’s Open Internet Further Inquiry [9-2-10]

Part 8: An FCC “Data-Driven” Double Standard? [10-27-10]

Part 9: Election Takeaways for the FCC [11-3-10]

Part 10: Irony of Little Openness in FCC Open Internet Reg-making [11-19-10]

Part 11: FCC Regulating Internet to Prevent Companies from Regulating Internet [11-22-10]

Part 12: Where is the FCC’s Legitimacy? [11-22-10]

Part 13: Will FCC Preserve or Change the Internet? [12-17-10]

Part 14: FCC Internet Price Regulation & Micro-management? [12-20-10]

Part 15: FCC Open Internet Decision Take-aways [12-21-10]

Part 16: FCC Defines Broadband Service as “BIAS”-ed [12-22-10]

Part 17: Why FCC’s Net Regs Need Administration/Congressional Regulatory Review [1-3-11]

Part 18: Welcome to the FCC-Centric Internet [1-25-11]

Part 19: FCC’s Net Regs in Conflict with President’s Pledges [1-26-11]

Part 20: Will FCC Respect President’s Call for “Least Burdensome” Regulation? [2-3-11]

Part 21: FCC’s In Search of Relevance in 706 Report [5-23-11]

Part 22: The FCC’s public wireless network blocks lawful Internet traffic [6-13-11]

Part 23: Why FCC Net Neutrality Regs Are So Vulnerable [9-8-11]

Part 24: Why Verizon Wins Appeal of FCC’s Net Regs [9-30-11]

Part 25: Supreme Court likely to leash FCC to the law [10-10-12]

Part 26: What Court Data Roaming Decision Means for FCC Open Internet Order [12-4-12]

Part 27: Oops! Crawford’s Model Broadband Nation, Korea, Opposes Net Neutrality [2-26-13]

Part 28: Little Impact on FCC Open Internet Order from SCOTUS Chevron Decision [5-21-13]

Part 29: More Legal Trouble for FCC’s Open Internet Order & Net Neutrality [6-2-13]

Part 30: U.S. Competition Beats EU Regulation in Broadband Race [6-21-13]

Part 31: Defending Google Fiber’s Reasonable Network Management [7-30-13]

Part 32: Capricious Net Neutrality Charges [8-7-13]

Part 33: Why FCC won’t pass Appeals Court’s oral exam [9-2-13]

Part 34: 5 BIG Implications from Court Signals on Net Neutrality – A Special Report [9-13-13]

Part 35: Dial-up Rules for the Broadband Age? Op-ed Rebutting Marvin Ammori’s [11-6-13]

Part 36: Nattering Net Neutrality Nonsense Over AT&T’s Sponsored Data Offering [1-6-14]

Part 37: Is Net Neutrality Trying to Mutate into an Economic Entitlement? [1-12-14]

Part 38: Why Professor Crawford Has Title II Reclassification All Wrong [1-16-14]

Part 39: Title II Reclassification Would Violate President’s Executive Order [1-22-14]

Part 40: The Narrowing Net Neutrality Dispute [2-24-14]

Part 41: FCC’s Open Internet Order Do-over – Key Going Forward Takeaways [3-5-14]

Part 42: Net Neutrality is about Consumer Benefit not Corporate Welfare for Netflix [3-21-14]

Part 43: The Multi-speed Internet is Getting More Faster Speeds [4-28-14]

Part 44: Reality Check on the Electoral Politics of Net Neutrality [5-2-14]

Part 45: The “Aristechracy” Demands Consumers Subsidize Their Net Neutrality Free Lunch [5-8-14]

Part 46: Read AT&T’s Filing that Totally Debunks Title II Reclassification [5-9-14]

Part 47: Statement on FCC Open Internet NPRM [5-15-14]

Part 48: Net Neutrality Rhetoric: “Believe it or not!” [5-16-14]

Part 49: Top Ten Reasons Broadband Internet is not a Public Utility [5-20-14]

Part 50: Top Ten Reasons to Oppose Broadband Utility Regulation [5-28-14]

Part 51: Google’s Title II Broadband Utility Regulation Risks [6-3-14]

Part 52:  Exposing Netflix’ Biggest Net Neutrality Deceptions [6-5-14

Part 53: Silicon Valley Naïve on Broadband Regulation (3 min video) [6-15-14]

Part 54: FCC’s Netflix Internet Peering Inquiry – Top Ten Questions [6-17-14]

Part 55: Interconnection is Different for Internet than Railroads or Electricity [6-26-14]

Part 56: Top Ten Failures of FCC Title II Utility Regulation [7-7-14]

Part 57: NetCompetition Statement & Comments on FCC Open Internet Order Remand [7-11-14]

Part 58: MD Rules Uber is a Common Carrier – Will FCC Agree? [8-6-14]

Part 59: Internet Peering Doesn’t Need Fixing – NetComp CommActUpdate Submission [8-11-14]

Part 60: Why is Silicon Valley Rebranding/Redefining Net Neutrality?  [9-2-14]

Part 61: the FCC’s Redefinition of Broadband Competition [9-4-14]

Part 62: NetCompetition Comments to FCC Opposing Title II Utility Regulation of Broadband [9-9-14]

Part 63: De-competition De-competition De-competition [9-14-14]

Part 64: The Forgotten Consumer in the Fast Lane Net Neutrality Debate [9-18-14]

Part 65: FTC Implicitly Urges FCC to Not Reclassify Broadband as a Utility [9-23-14]

Part 66: Evaluating the Title II Rainbow of Proposals for the FCC to Go Nuclear [9-29-14]

Part 67: Why Waxman’s FCC Internet Utility Regulation Plan Would Be Unlawful [10-5-14]

Part 68: Silicon Valley’s Biggest Internet Mistake [10-15-14]

Part 69: Will the FCC Break the Internet? [10-22-14]

Part 70: Net Neutrality Has Become an Industrial Policy [10-31-14]

Part 71: The Federal Communications Congress? [11-7-14]

Part 72: The Top Ten Adjectives to Describe Net Neutrality [11-11-14]

Part 73: Top Ten Questions to Ask About Title II Regulation of the Internet [11-20-14]

Part 74: The Only Legitimate FCC Hybrid Net Neutrality Approach [12-1-14]

Part 75: Who Pays for Net Neutrality? [12-3-14]

Part 76: Top Ten Deficiencies in FCC’s Title II Record [12-8-14]

Part 77: FCC Title II Internet Regulation: “Believe it or not!” [12-17-14]

Part 78: The FCC Is Unnecessarily Undermining its Legitimacy [12-18-14]

Part 79: NetCompetition Statement on New FCC Net Neutrality Legislation [1-16-15]

Part 80: Need for Modernizing Communications Law – Seeing the Forest for the Trees [1-18-15]

Part 81: Why the FCC Needs Congress [1-20-15]

Part 82: NetCompetition on FCC Publicly Sharing its Proposed Open Internet Order [1-23-15]

Part 83: The FCC’s De-Americanization of the Internet [1-25-15]

Part 84: Testing the FCC’s Net Neutrality Calculus [1-28-15]

Part 85: Net Neutrality Bait & Switch to Title II [2-3-15]

Part 86: FCC Internet Utility Regulation Is a Really Stupid Idea [2-9-15]

Part 87: The FCC Is Not Neutral [2-17-15]

Part 88: Title II Protectionism Will Hurt Google & Silicon Valley in EU [2-19-15]

Part 89: The FCC’s Predictable Fiasco of Internet Utility Regulation [2-24-15]

[Originally published at PrecursorBlog]

Categories: On the Blog

Time for Congress to Gut the FCC

Stuff We Wish We Wrote - Homepage - March 02, 2015, 4:27 PM
The Public Policy Under an Obama-appointed chairman it is no longer independent but a travesty. By Tom Giovanetti – 2.28.15 A couple of weekends ago, when my…

What’s up With the Prices at the Pump?

Somewhat Reasonable - March 02, 2015, 2:31 PM

First, Saudi Arabia drove down the price of oil by increasing its production, which gave Americans a welcome drop in prices at the pump. Could the kingdom now be pushing them back up?

Prices at the pump have gone up nearly 40 cents a gallon from the January low—60 cents in California. Every year, at this time, refineries shut down to make adjustments from the “winter blend” to the “summer blend.”

However this year, the increase is exacerbated.

The unexpected extreme weather in the south, Patrick Dehaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, explained: “caused some of the refineries in the south to shut and restart, resulting in disruption for a couple of days.”

The February 19 explosion at a California refinery, that supplied 10 percent of California’s gasoline, has driven the state’s extreme uptick.

Then we have is the expanding steelworker’s strike that began on February 1—the first in 35 years. Because of refinery automation, the impact to date has been minor. However, if the strike actually shuts down operations, the Washington Post (WP) states: “the impact on gas prices could be swift.”

Opinions vary on why the United Steelworks chose now to strike—especially in a time when labor unions, according to the WP, “rarely exercise that right.” The WP explains: “There were only 11 strikes involving more than 1,000 workers last year, down from hundreds annually in the 1970s.”

Energy economist Tim Snyder sees that big refiners lose their incentive to bargain when crude oil prices fall to low levels. He told me: “The strike helps raise prices so the longer the strike goes on, the more profits they can recover.”

In contrast, energy market analyst Phil Flynn explains: “I think the Union is striking now because refining margins have been good and they want some of that benefit.”

What if the union workers chose this time to strike because of outside influence—specifically Saudi Arabia? There are many coincidences that seem too obvious to ignore.

First, the last time refinery workers went on strike was 35 years ago—about the same time as the oil crisis of 1979. Then, after the Iranian Revolution caused an oil shortage resulting in a catastrophic spike in the price of oil that drove other countries to expand production, it is reported that “to gain back market share, [Saudi Arabia] increased production and caused downward pressure on prices, making high-cost oil production facilities less profitable or even unprofitable.”

Now, increased Saudi production, once again, has driven the price drop, and, it, too, that is about maintaining market share and driving out higher-cost U.S. shale production.

But there’s more.

We think of Saudi Arabia as producing crude oil. However, according to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the kingdom “plans to become the world’s second largest [behind the U.S.] exporter of refined oil products in 2017 as part of its drive to diversify its economy and increase its share of the global crude and petroleum products markets.”

The Financial Post (FP) takes it further: “Saudi Arabia and its OPEC cohorts may have abandoned their role as market stabilisers, but they are taking the fight with their rivals downstream.” The FP adds: “The push downstream comes as OPEC’s strategy to maintain production and push out expensive non-OPEC producers is working.”

So, while the U.S. hasn’t built a new refinery in decades, Saudi Arabia has two new refineries—with a third planned.

The WSJ reports: “Planning for refineries in Saudi Arabia began around a decade ago to meet growing domestic fuel demand as well as to provide jobs. Domestic demand hasn’t grown as fast as expected, but as prices for Saudi Arabia’s unprocessed oil have slumped—crude prices have more than halved internationally since last summer—the refineries could offer a profitable alternative source of income.”

Note this key line from the WSJ: “Domestic demand hasn’t grown as fast as expected, but as prices for Saudi Arabia’s unprocessed oil have slumped…” This means that the kingdom has excess capacity at a time that it needs extra income.

Economists say Saudi Arabia needs tough economic reform. The Financial Times states: “The IMF wants the government to reduce the growth in spending still further, especially on wages and subsidies, and focus on infrastructure investment. But economists also worry that lower oil prices will hit the government’s capital spending, which could depress economic activity in the coming years.”

As the WSJ points out: “the refineries could offer a profitable alternative source of income.” But first, the kingdom needs outside customers—and the Steelworkers’ strike could provide just the ticket.

The U.S. is the number one global exporter of refined petroleum products. Saudi Arabia aims to capture some of that market share to become number two. We know that, when to its advantage, the kingdom thinks nothing of hurting its ally—but not friend—the United States.

Announcing the first shipment of gasoline from the new Saudi refinery on February 6, the Middle East North Africa Financial Network states: “The refinery is expected to reach full capacity in mid-February. A source close to the company said … European demand was good due to worries about the refinery strike in the United States which could reduce the amount of U.S. diesel heading to Europe.”

So a refinery strike in the U.S. hands them customers—which explains why, after dropping oil prices, the kingdom could be driving up gasoline prices.


Categories: On the Blog

Heartland Daily Podcast – James Shuls: Missouri School Transfer Law

Blog - Education - March 02, 2015, 12:23 PM

Heather Kays speaks with James Shuls, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri and fellow at the Show-Me Institute, about the struggles families faced while trying to use the Missouri school transfer law.

The transfer law allows students to transfer from one school district to another, better school district once the home district is deemed unaccredited by the state. Though the law is clear, many opponents have resisted the law which creates choice for families who would otherwise have none.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]


Heartland Daily Podcast – James Shuls: Missouri School Transfer Law

Somewhat Reasonable - March 02, 2015, 12:23 PM

Heather Kays speaks with James Shuls, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri and fellow at the Show-Me Institute, about the struggles families faced while trying to use the Missouri school transfer law.

The transfer law allows students to transfer from one school district to another, better school district once the home district is deemed unaccredited by the state. Though the law is clear, many opponents have resisted the law which creates choice for families who would otherwise have none.

[Subscribe to the Heartland Daily Podcast for free at this link.]


Categories: On the Blog

The Climate “Witch Hunt” Backfires

Somewhat Reasonable - March 02, 2015, 10:50 AM

Senators Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks – including The Heartland Institute – demanding that they divulge any funding they have provided to scientists skeptical of the left’s crazy opinions about the causes and consequences of climate change. Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva did them one better, sending letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who dare to question their fake “consensus.”

All this is because Greenpeace persuaded its friends at some major media outlets to recycle decade-old accusations that one innocent climate scientist, Dr. Willie Soon, failed to disclose grants his employer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, solicited, vetted, and profited from to support his work on everything except climate change.

Go figure!

In their testimonies before Congress, the eight targeted scientists offered varying degrees of skepticism that humans are the primary driver of climate change or that specific policies being proposed by government to deal with the issue of climate change were ineffective at curbing climate change or too costly. Every one of these experts agrees that the climate is changing and that humans have some impact.

Go figure!

The scientists being targeted are Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. of The University of Colorado; Dr. Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology; Dr. David Legates of the University of Delaware; Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama; Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Robert Balling of Arizona State University; and Dr. Steven Hayward of Pepperdine University.

As a result of these inquiries, many scientists, members of the media, and others have equated these inquiries and pressure to McCarthyism. (But let’s be fair to the late Sen. Joe McCarthy; he was never guilty of using the tactics his critics allege. See Stan Evan’s magnificent book on the subject, Blacklisted by History, for the full story.)

Even Michael Mann, the controversial climate scientist at Penn State who is one of the biggest advocates for government action to address climate change told the National Journal, “It does come across as sort of heavy-handed and overly aggressive.”

The American Meteorological Society sent a letter to Representative Grijalva saying, “Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Senate Republicans on the Environment and Public Works Committee sent a letter to the same 107 groups expressing concerns over the attacks on academic freedom. The letter explains, “Institutions of higher-learning and non-governmental funding are vital to facilitating such research and scientific inquiry. Limiting research and science to only those who receive federal government resources would undermine and slow American education, economic prosperity, and technological advancement.”

According to the New York Times, “Andrew Dessler, a mainstream [sic] climate researcher and a professor of atmospheric science at Texas A&M University, said that he had concerns about “fishing expeditions” by Congress into researchers’ work, especially drafts of testimony requested in the letters from Representative Grijalva.”

Professor Pielke explained on his blog, “The incessant attacks and smears are effective, no doubt, I have already shifted all of my academic work away from climate issues…I can’t imagine the message being sent to younger scientists. Actually, I can: “when people are producing work in line with the scientific consensus there’s no reason to go on a witch hunt.”

Dr. Curry has responded by saying, “It looks like it is ‘open season’ on anyone who deviates even slightly from the consensus.”

Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well financed advocacy groups and politicians with many “conflicts of interests” of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.

Categories: On the Blog

The Death of the American Corporation

Somewhat Reasonable - March 02, 2015, 10:01 AM

The traditional American corporation has been a fixture in the U.S. economy for generations. Corporations allow entrepreneurs to shield themselves from liability, spread ownership out to an unlimited number of shareholders, and more easily raise funds for large-scale business investments.

While many modern politicians and pundits have spent copious time denouncing the evils of corporate America, the reality is that without the legal protections and financial opportunities provided by corporations, the United States would never have developed into the economic superpower it is today.

Despite its many advantages, the American corporate business model is slowly and painfully dying, and with it, a tremendous potential for future economic growth. According to a recent study by William McBride at the Tax Foundation, the United States loses roughly 60,000 corporations every year, and about 1 million corporations have been lost since the mid-1980s. According to the study, the number of corporations in the United States is at its lowest point in 40 years.

As a result of the declining number of corporations, only 60 percent of U.S. business profits now come from this type of business structure, a relatively low figure compared to many of the other successful economic nations of the world.

The reasons behind the decline of the American corporation are not difficult to discover. The United States continues to have the industrialized world’s highest corporate income tax rate, beating out numerous notorious high-tax nations like Belgium and France. Additionally, the U.S. tax code provides many incentives for those starting businesses or restructuring businesses to stay away from traditional corporations, also known as “C corporations.” For instance, C corporations are subject to multiple layers of taxation, which means the profits of the corporation are taxed, the shareholders’ profits are taxed, and all of the employees working for the corporation pay personal income taxes, as well.

The various disadvantages created by the federal government have led numerous entrepreneurs to choose alternative business structures to avoid paying high tax rates. Since the early 1990s, the number of partnerships has more than doubled, and sole proprietorships continue to be an option many small business owners utilize to avoid the complicated tax maze formulated by the IRS.

The number of S corporations has also risen dramatically as a result of the detrimental taxes placed on traditional corporations. Unlike C corporations, S corporations pass all taxes on to the owners of the business; the corporation does not pay any taxes on its profits. Owners pay personal income rates on the profits of the corporation, which significantly limits the total amount of taxes paid. Perhaps the largest disadvantage of an S corporation compared to a traditional corporation is that the number of shareholders in the company is limited to 100, which can significantly stifle the ability of the corporation to raise funds quickly for important projects.

The continuous decline of corporations in the United States significantly harms economic growth. Not only do traditional C corporations allow businesses the possibility to quickly obtain an infusion of cash to spur expansion through stock offerings, they also protect owners from debt and financial liabilities in a way partnerships and sole proprietorships simply cannot. When corporations fail, the repercussions for the owners are virtually non-existent. When sole proprietorships and partnerships fail, owners are often stuck with devastating amounts of debt that often prevent future business ideas from ever taking shape. In the Tax Foundation’s report, McBride correctly asserts:

Unfortunately, [the decline of corporations in America is] troubling for the long-term health of the economy. C corporations usually provide the most efficient business structure for large-scale projects and investments. However, high corporate tax rates drive activity away from the corporate sector, artificially limiting this important aspect of the economy and harming productivity and workers’ wages, [as well as leaving] potential growth and economic activity on the table.

None of these fears seem to have bothered President Barack Obama when he formulated his $4 trillion budget proposal released in early February. Obama’s plan calls for raising taxes on corporations to pay for increased government spending and a massive $478 billion public works project. Unless the federal government implements tax reforms that will encourage the growth of all businesses, including corporations, the U.S. economy will continue to improve at a sluggish pace, and future breakthrough business ideas will be developed in countries that provide a more favorable economic climate.

[Originally published on Breitbart.com]

Categories: On the Blog

Climatist Jihad?

Somewhat Reasonable - March 02, 2015, 8:00 AM

ISIL and other Islamist jihad movements continue to round up and silence all who oppose them or refuse to convert to their extreme religious tenets. They are inspiring thousands to join them. Their intolerance, vicious tactics and growing power seem to have inspired others, as well.

After years of claiming the science is settled and unprecedented manmade catastrophes are occurring right now, Climate Crisis, Inc. is increasingly desperate. Polls put climate change at the bottom of every list of public concerns. China and India refuse to cut energy production or emissions. Real-world weather and climate totally contradict their dire models and forecasts. Expensive, subsidized, environmentally harmful renewable energy makes little sense in world freshly awash in cheap, accessible oil, gas and coal.

Perhaps worse, Congress is in Republican control, and in 23 months the White House and Executive Branch could also shift dramatically away from the Freezing-Jobless-in-the-Dark Side of the Force.

Climate Crisis industrialists are also fed up with constant carping, criticism and questions from growing numbers of experts who will not kowtow to their End of Days theology. Once seemingly near, their dream of ruling a hydrocarbon-free world of “sustainably” lower living standards become more remote every week. Extremist factions had dreamed of a global climatist caliphate and want vengeance.

So borrowing from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton mentor Saul Alinsky’s book, Rules for Radicals, they have gone on the attack: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. A good tactic is one your people enjoy. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag. Keep the pressure on, with different tactics and actions. They’ve also borrowed from the Islamic State playbook: Silence your enemies.

Led by Greenpeace associate Kert Davies, this Climatist Jihad wing of the climate chaos movement has launched a well funded, carefully choreographed vendetta of character assassination and destruction, vilifying dangerous manmade climate change “deniers” and trying to destroy their careers. Their Big Green, Big Government and media allies are either actively complicit, rooting from the sidelines or silent.

Instead of bullets, bombs and beheadings, they use double standards, Greenpeace FOIA demands, letters from Senator Ed Markey and Congressman Raul Grijalva, threats of lost funding and jobs, and constant intimidation and harassment. Submit, recant, admit your guilt, renounce your nature-rules-climate faith, Climatist Jihadis tell climate realists. Or suffer the consequences, which might even include IRS, EPA and Fish & Wildlife Service swat teams bursting through your doors, as they did with Gibson Guitars.

Their first target was Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics scientist Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon. Working closely with Greenpeace’s Climate Investigations Center, the Boston Globe and New York Times alleged that Dr. Soon received $1.25 million from the fossil fuel industry, but failed to disclose those funds when his scientific papers were published and falsely claimed he had no conflict of interest.

The charges are bogus. The Harvard-Smithsonian had full knowledge of Dr. Soon’s research financing and took 40% of the grant money off the top: some $500,000! The details are all public records, and Dr. Soon has a solid track record of going where his careful and extensive research takes him – regardless of where the money comes from. Not a scrap of evidence suggests that he falsified or fabricated data or conclusions, or twisted his science to satisfy research sponsors, on any of the numerous topics he has studied.

He has received incredible flak from environmentalist pressure groups, media outlets and even his own university – and has courageously stood behind his research, analyses, and findings, which continue to withstand intense scientific scrutiny. Harvard-Smithsonian recently said it “does not support Dr. Soon’s conclusions on climate change,” and Harvard Earth and Planetary Sciences Professor Daniel Schrag averred that Soon’s approach to finding global average temperatures was perhaps not “as honest as other approaches.” But they offer not a scintilla of evidence to support their allegations of inaccuracy and dishonesty, and give him no opportunity to respond.

Indeed, one of the most prominent aspects of the climate imbroglio is the steadfast refusal of alarmist scientists to discuss or debate their findings with experts who argue that extensive, powerful natural forces – not human carbon dioxide emissions – drive Earth’s climate and weather. “Manmade disaster” proponents also refuse to divulge raw data, computer codes and other secretive work that is often paid for with taxpayer money and is always used to justify laws, treaties, regulations, mandates and subsidies that stifle economic growth, kill jobs and reduce living standards.

Dr. Soon is not the only target. The Climate Jihadists are also going after Robert Balling, Matt Briggs, John Christy, Judith Curry, Tom Harris, Steven Hayward, David Legates, Richard Lindzen, and Roger Pielke, Jr. More are sure to follow, because their work eviscerates climate cataclysm claims and raises serious questions about the accuracy, credibility, integrity, and sanctity of alarmist science.

Climate Crisis, Inc. wants a monopoly over the issue. Its members focus almost exclusively on alleged human causes of climate change and extreme weather events – and would love to see skeptics silenced. Crisis proponents will not even attend scientific conferences where skeptics discuss natural causes and alarmists have opportunities to defend their hypotheses, models, and evidence. (Perhaps the FCC needs to investigate this monopoly and issue “climate neutrality” rules to ensure honest and balanced discussion.)

It fits a depressing pattern: of the White House, Democrats and liberals shutting down debate, permitting no amendments, conducting business behind closed doors, not allowing anyone to read proposed laws and regulations, rarely even recognizing that there are differing views – on ObamaCare, ObamaNetCare, IRS harassment of conservative donors and groups, PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, or climate change.

The Climate Crisis industry thrives on tens of billions of dollars annually, for one-sided climate research, drilling and fracking studies, renewable energy projects and other programs, all based on dubious claims that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions threaten climate stability and planetary survival.

Businesses, job holders and consumers pay the huge costs of complying with the resultant regulations and soaring energy costs. Taxpayers pay for much of the research and propaganda that drives the rulemaking. Russia and hard-left foundations have also contributed billions to the process; and government unions, environmental pressure groups and renewable energy companies give generously to researchers and to politicians who keep the alarmist research programs, regulatory processes, mandates, and subsidies alive.

All of this raises another elephantine issue. If a couple million dollars over a decade’s time creates near-criminal conflict-of-interest and disclosure problems for skeptic/realist scientists, what effects do billions of dollars in research money have on alarmist researchers and their universities and institutions?

Few, if any, alarmist researchers have disclosed that their work was funded by government agencies, companies, foundations and others with enormous financial, policy, political and other interests in their work, ensuring that their conclusions support manmade factors and debunk natural causes. Many of those researchers have signed statements that their research and papers involved no conflicts, knowing they would not get these grants, if their outcomes did not reflect the sponsors’ interests and perspectives.

Moreover, ClimateGate, IPCC revelations and other investigations have revealed extensive and troubling incidents of manipulated data, faulty models, wild exaggerations, broken hockey sticks, and completely baseless claims about hottest years, disappearing glaciers, coastal flooding, and other “crises.” And those claims severely impact our energy costs, jobs, living standards, economic growth, and freedoms.

We need to end the double standards – and investigate the alarmist researchers and institutions.

Or perhaps better yet, let us instead have that all-out, open, robust debate that climate realists have long sought – and alarmists have refused to join. Equal government and other money for all research. All cards and evidence on the table. No more hiding data and codes. Answer all questions, no matter how tough or inconvenient. And let honest science decide what our energy and economic futures will be.


Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org), author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death, and coauthor of Cracking Big Green: Saving the world from the Save-the-Earth money machine.

Categories: On the Blog

Weather Bulletin 8: Records Breaking Across America

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:05 PM

As temperatures continue to dip and snow accumulates, support for claims human caused global warming is causing winters to disappear are melting like ice under a heat lamp.

All fifty states are expecting to see snowfall in the next seven days with most of them already having experienced modest to record amounts of snow as this particularly wicked winter just refuses to let up.

Cold temperature records were tied or broken at more than 2000 locations in the past week. According to the weather website, sunshine hours, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recorded 2,634 record low-high temperatures were broken or tied between February 19, 2015 and February 25, 2015. In other words, 2,634 locations experienced daily highs lower than ever recorded on that date since record keeping began. Over the same time period, 272 locations registered record low temperatures at least one day during the week. All these records are falling without the influence of the polar vortex that set thousands of record lows throughout the nation, even into the summer, of 2014.

On Friday the 27th every area east of the Rocky Mountains, excepting Florida, experienced below average temperatures. According to the Weather Channel, cities breaking daily low or daily low high temperatures in New England and the Northeastern U.S. included: Burlington, Vermont (minus 19 degrees), Bridgeport, Connecticut (0 degrees — the latest in a 0 degree temperature was ever recorded), Concord, New Hampshire (minus 20 degrees), Pittsburgh (minus 9 degrees) and Rochester, New York (minus 9 degrees).

Both Bangor, Maine and Syracuse, New York saw more below zero temperatures in February 2015, than they had experienced in any previous February. In Syracuse, the temperature dipped below zero for a record 20 times topping the previous calendar-year record of 19 below zero days in 1948, while Bangor, Maine saw 17 subzero days.

With an average temperature of 24 degrees for the month, 11 degrees below the normal February average, New York City set a record for the coldest February ever. The cold brought winter related health problems in tow. The New York Times reported, “Dr. John Marshall, the head of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, said his hospital was averaging 336 patients a day this winter, 20 more than last winter. On Jan. 19, he saw something unlike anything he had seen before. In a single hour, 30 people showed up after having slipped on ice, most of them with wrist and arm fractures, with some ankles thrown in.”

Nor were the Midwest and the Great Lakes states spared the record chill with low records being set or tied in among other locations, Cincinnati, Ohio (minus 7 degrees), Columbus, Ohio (minus 11 degrees), Chicago (minus 10 degrees, Dubuque, Iowa (minus 17 degrees), Detroit (minus 2 degrees), Erie, Pennsylvania (minus 7 degrees), Flint, Michigan (minus 17 degrees), Grand Rapids, Michigan (minus 10 degrees) and Indianapolis, Indiana (minus 5 degrees) all broke low temperature records.

Some cities, including Cleveland and Toledo in Ohio set broke low temperature records on multiple days.

For South Bend, Indiana, Feb. 12 to Feb. 27, was the coldest recorded for this period in history with an average temperature of 11.4 degrees.

The Weather Channel reports, “subzero readings stretched across 22 states from the interior Northeast to the Plains, Great Lakes and Upper Midwest. Temperatures dropped below minus 20 degrees in 7 states (North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and New York). Wind chills bottoming out at more than 40 below zero in parts of North Dakota and northern Minnesota Sunday morning. Bottineau, North Dakota saw the lowest actual air temperature in the Lower 48, dipping to minus 32 degrees.

Farther South, Joplin, Missouri (8 degrees), Paducah, Kentucky (11 degrees) set record low temperatures between the 19th and the 25th. On Friday the 27th, Oklahoma (23 degrees) and Dallas, Texas (30 degrees) each set records for the lowest maximum temperature recorded on the date.

As is often the case, in winter, cold temperatures were accompanied with snowfall, in many areas, record snowfall. Boston’s snow woes have been well-documented this winter, but Boston is not the only city, nor the Northeast the only region slammed in February. Accumulating snow and ice brought the roof down on a skating rink in Canton, Massachusetts narrowly avoiding crushing a children’s hockey team and assembled parents and employees.

Also in New England, snowfall measured at Warwick New Hampshire’s Green Airport topped 31.8-inches breaking the old record of 30.9 in set in 1962.

Indianapolis set a new snowfall record for March 1st with 5.9 inches of snowfall, the most ever on March 1st.

According to the National Weather Service, much of Alabama experienced record or near record snowfalls last week. Prior to February 25, Huntsville, AL had received just 6 tenths of an inch of a snowfall all winter, but on the 25th, Huntsville got hammered with 8.1 inches of snow it the second-snowiest day in the city’s history, surpassed only by the 15.7 inches of snow that fell on December 31, 1963.

Record snows fell across much of Alabama with three locations in Marshall County reported 11 or more inches of snow. Other areas receiving high snowfall included Athens (8.5 inches), Eva (9 inches), Moulton (9 inches), Phil Campbell (10 inches) and Rainsville (8.5 inches). 

Farther west in Texans and New Mexican’s have also experienced record late-season snowfalls with attendant weather related disasters. Area’s north and west of Ft. Worth experienced record amounts of snow, with some regions getting more than seven inches of snow. Mixed with the snow was freezing rain and ice. As a result of the unusual late February weather, more than 1,000 flights were cancelled out of D/FW International Airport. North Texas experienced more than 1,000 reported accidents, with 617 traffic related calls between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on Friday in Ft. Worth alone. Interstates 35, 30 and 75 as well and numerous side-streets were closed at times Thursday through Saturday and there were two weather related traffic deaths.

Across New Mexico, residents woke up to more snowfall than some areas had in nearly a decade. The Albuquerque metro area received 1-2 inches per hour for several hours, resulting in a total 8.6 inches, the 9th heaviest snowfall since 1931. The last time more than 8 inches fell in a two day period was in 2006.

H. Sterling Burnett

Managing Editor

Environment & Climate News




Categories: On the Blog

Left Launches Witch Hunt Against Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 5:10 PM

Kert Davies, a long-time Greenpeace staffer, has regularly attacked climate scientists who question the group’s views on global warming.

CHICAGO (March 1, 2015) — A week ago, the Boston GlobeNew York Times, and Washington Post  ran stories repeating claims made by long-time Greenpeace staffer Kert Davies that Dr. Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics failed to disclose funding from “fossil-fuel sources” to the editors of a science journal that published an article coauthored by Dr. Soon. Davies alleged this violated the journal’s disclosure and conflict of interest requirements.

Since then, many other media outlets have covered the controversy.

This news coverage was the beginning of a witch hunt waged against climate scientists whose work contradicts the claims of Greenpeace and other liberal advocacy groups. Elements of the witch hunt include:

* Forecast the Facts, a project of the left-of-center Center for American Progress (and more recently affiliated with the even farther-left Citizen Engagement Laboratory) launched an online petition to the Smithsonian Institution demanding Dr. Soon be fired for misconduct.

* Democratic U.S. Sens. Edward Markey, Barbara Boxer, and Sheldon Whitehouse sent letters to 100 business and think tanks – including The Heartland Institute – demanding they divulge any funding they have provided to global warming skeptics.

* Democratic U.S. Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva sent letters to seven universities demanding information about funding for eight scientists who have questioned Greenpeace’s stance on global warming.

* Davies asked the editors of journals that published Soon’s work to investigate whether he had complied with their disclosure and conflict of interest policies.

The Heartland Institute, which has been part of the climate change debate since 1993, has created a web page atwww.heartland.org/willie-soon that collects commentary and background information on this controversy. The web page contains information contradicting Davies’ allegations while making the following points:

* Neither the editors of Science Bulletin nor the Smithsonian Institution, Dr. Soon’s employer, have said Dr. Soon violated their disclosure or conflict of interest rules.

* Davies has been making similar attacks against Dr. Soon and other climate scientists since as long ago as 1997. He is not a credible source. His background and affiliations should have been included in news stories based on his latest allegations.

* Grants supporting Dr. Soon’s work were vetted and submitted by the Smithsonian, not by Dr. Soon. Grant dollars went to the Smithsonian, which kept around 40 percent of the money for oversight and overhead.

* The amount of industry support Dr. Soon received, variously reported as $1 million or $1.2 million, includes the Smithsonian Institution’s 40 percent share and was received over the course of ten years.

* By agreement between donors and the Smithsonian, Dr. Soon wasn’t even aware of who some of the donors were, making a conflict of interest impossible.

* Disclosure of funding sources is not a common requirement of academic journals in the physical sciences field. Most climate scientists – alarmist as well as skeptical – do not disclose their funding sources.

Joseph Bast, president of The Heartland Institute, said:

“The Heartland Institute stands four-square behind Willie Soon. He’s a brilliant and courageous scientist devoted entirely to pursuing scientific knowledge. His critics are all ethically challenged and mental midgets by comparison. We plan to continue to work with Dr. Soon on future editions of Climate Change Reconsidered and feature him at future International Conferences on Climate Change, including the next one, the tenth, scheduled to take place in June in Washington, DC.”

John Nothdurft, director of government relations for The Heartland Institute, said:

“Instead of having a real conversation with the American public about the science and economics of climate change, well-financed advocacy groups and politicians with many ‘conflicts of interest’ of their own would rather direct the public’s focus on who funds non-profit organizations, independent research institutions, scientists, economists, and other experts.

“Apparently it is now a national offense to raise any concerns over certain aspects of the science or economics of policies that purport to deal with human-caused climate change. This witch hunt has nothing to do with ensuring that science is accurate or reliable. These attacks are leveled by people who refuse to engage in civil debate over important matters of science, economics, and public policy. They should not be allowed to win the day.”

Heartland has worked closely with Dr. Soon over the years, featuring him as a speaker at conferences and including him as a reviewer and contributor to a series of volumes on climate science published for the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). In 2013, Heartland published a critique coauthored by Dr. Soon of a report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

For more comments, see www.heartland.org/willie-soon. To interview a Heartland spokesperson on this story, please contact Director of Communications Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 312/731-9364.

Categories: On the Blog

Apple Accused of Poaching Chinese Know-How Paid for by US Taxpayers

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:52 PM

Since 2011 NLPC has tracked the stimulus-funded fiascoes that were/are battery-maker A123 Systems and luxury electric automaker Fisker Automotive, who at one point were business partners (or stuck with each other, depending on your perspective). Both eventually went bankrupt, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars from Department of Energy awards that were never paid back. Chinese company Wanxiang Group ended up with both failed enterprises, buying their assets for cheap.

While the Obama administration declared the two bankruptcies (among others, such as Solyndra) part of their “successful” green energy investment strategy, two Republican Senators – Charles Grassley of Iowa and John Thune of South Dakota – have applied pressure to DOE over the fate of American jobs and intellectual property created by A123 and Fisker, but paid for with U.S. tax dollars.

Now, as the Senators continue to express concern about DOE policy over innovations created thanks to government funding, Chinese-owned A123 is suing over the “theft” of its intellectual resources by an American company – Apple! The Cupertino, Calif. computer giant is said to be secretly working on its own electric vehicle, and A123 has alleged in a lawsuit that Apple is “poaching” its best-and-brightest – led by former A123 Chief Technology Officer Mujeeb Ijaz – in violation of non-disclosure and non-compete agreements.

“It appears that Apple, with the assistance of defendant Ijaz, is systematically hiring away A123’s high tech PhD and engineering employees, thereby effectively shutting down various projects/programs at A123,” read the legal complaint, filed in Massachusetts state court but moved to federal court. “They are doing so in an effort to support Apple’s apparent plans to establish a battery division that is similar if not identical to A123’s, in competition with A123….”

As the Boston Herald reported, among the talent lured away by Apple includes an A123 scientist that earned $600,000 last year, plus living expenses. A Forbes.com analysis pondered why the battery innovator/manufacturer was so incensed that it felt it necessary to sue Apple over a few scientists. Technology writer Michael Kanellos reviewed A123’s history, which grew out of MIT, and explained that the company’s lithium phosphate cells did not perform as well as competing technologies. Also, larger and deeper-pocketed competitors like LG Chem and Johnson Controls worked their ways into alternative energy, and A123 struggled to get automotive clients – their only “success” was Fisker.

Nevertheless, post bankruptcy, Wanxiang moved aggressively to acquire A123 at a steep discount (but not necessarily a pittance) – for $260 million. As NLPC concluded in December 2012, “it’s not far-fetched to think that Wanxiang believe(d) the biggest worth of A123 remains in the head knowledge of its scientists and engineers who will now report to them.” That would go a long way toward explaining the Apple lawsuit.

Before the U.S. government approved the sale of A123 to Wanxiang, members of Congress (including Grassley and Thune) expressed concern about the technology transfer over national security concerns, besides the loss of taxpayer-funded resources.

“A123 Systems also works hand-in-hand with U.S. power plants on energy storage and efficiency improvements,” Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn wrote in The Hill. “Its products and technology serve the telecommunications markets through battery backup systems that support telecommunications controllers and Internet servers, transceiver stations and central hubs. Allowing Wanxiang to acquire this company’s technology could leave us vulnerable to cyber attacks.”

Despite the concerns, the bankruptcy court and the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States approved the deal. But Grassley and Thune are still pressing DOE for more stringent measures to assure that taxpayer-financed innovations are properly protected investments preserved for the public benefit.

“A more complete audit would allow DOE to register and claim title to subsequent inventions that trace back to federal support and may otherwise escape disclosure,” the Senators wrote to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. “This accountability is especially important to track taxpayer-funded intellectual property through transfer of ownership from an awardee company to a foreign entity.”

The Energy Department responded with an explanation for plans to create rules to address control of such technology, while also stating that other areas of law limit the government’s ability to retain the property or require its manufacture on U.S. soil.

Wanxiang, which does operate A123 in the U.S. and has maintained its identity for “The New Fisker” at its “Wanxiang America” base in Chicago, has aspirations for a re-launch of the electric “Karma” model. Company chairman Lu Guanqiu (pictured) has expressed his passion and commitment for becoming the first successful Chinese automaker.

“I’ll put every cent that Wanxiang earns into making electric vehicles,” Guanqiu said at the company’s Chinese headquarters last June. “I’ll burn as much cash as it takes to succeed, or until Wanxiang goes bust.”

But the effort to get the new Karma to market has been a struggle, apparently. Earlier this week sources told Reuters that the Fisker name would be changed to Elux, and that the hoped-for 2015 relaunch would be delayed at least a year. Wanxiang was also said to be spending millions of dollars updating the Karma’s years-old hardware.

Add to that the lawsuit against cash-rich Apple over “brain drain,” it appears Mr. Lu believes his dream is imperiled. Maybe we’re seeing the beginning of the bizarre scenario of an American company overtaking a Chinese one, whose assets were largely paid for by U.S. taxpayers.


Categories: On the Blog

Population Control Behind UN’s Agenda 21

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:46 AM

Obama and UN seek to transform

The following commentary by Ben Zycher on the United Nations’ top climate change official, Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), tells how the goal of UNFCCC is to “intentionally transform” the world’s economic development model. In Christina Figueres own words, spoken on February 4th:

This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model.  This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the last 150 years; since the industrial revolution.

Instead of focusing on the central issue which is addressing the cost effectiveness of the global warming issue, the main focus continues to be on the nearly irrelevant causation issue. Neither does Christiana Figueres seem to understand that a transformation of the “economic development model” is a repository of consequences unintended but predictable; foremost among them, the impoverishment of many millions of people.

Africa in the crossfire with other 3rd world countries 

Much rides on the UN Kyoto Protocol of 1992 that legally binds developed countries to emission reduction targets. The Protocol’s first commitment period started in 2008 and ended in 2012. The second commitment period began in January 2013 and will end in 2020.

Regarding CO2 emissions in Africa: Carbon emissions are estimated to be lower compared to western and emerging countriesIn so far as South Africa is so addicted to coal and dependent on coal, the country itself has very high emissions – 13th biggest emitter in the world — in contrast to the rest of the continent, where most countries have very low emissions, or even zero emissions.

The irony is that those who are behind the U.N. Agenda 21 road map, claim all of the changes they want forced upon us are for the good of our planet and people.  That simply is not true, and South Africa is a case in point.  The cost to switch from coal towards renewable energy in South Africa would be significant.  Energy needs in Africa and other developing countries will increase as countries become more industrialized and prosperous. Restricting or reducing CO2 emissions in places such as South Africa, to those below its position of 13th in the world, would cause much hardship and limit overall the growth within the African Continent. Even in this day and age heating and cooking is widely done by African natives with animal dung patties, which is a source of unhealthful pollution.

Questions as to why the push for a successful UN Kyoto Protocol by 2020

Some brave souls have begun questioning whether there are more sinister and self-serving reasons that the UN Kyoto Protocol be successful by 2020.  Could one covert reason be to reduce populations by making life even more difficult for third world poor populations to prosper?  In 2009 a report was published byScientific America, first appearing in Earth Talk produced by E/The Environmental Magazine, which questioned whether the rate of people reproducing needed to be controlled in order to save the environment. They postured that human population growth is a major contributor to global warming, as humans use fossil fuels to power their increasingly mechanized lifestyles.  According to the United Nations Population Fund, human population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion people during the course of the 20th century.  It was that unprecedented increase that began to concern people, who then began looking for ways to control our population. The United Nations Population Fundlikewise predicts that fast-growing, developing countries will contribute more than half of global CO2 emissions by 2050, thereby erasing other countries’ adoption of long held over-consumptive ways.

This article also published in 2009, began raising the question as to whether, given population and sustainability, the planet could avoid not limiting the number of people (or slowing the rise in human numbers) to save the planet.

Alex Epstein, in his book “The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels” — adapted from a published review by Jay Lehr, Director of Science at the Heartland Institute — “lays out a clear story that the use of fossil fuels in the less developed world has dramatically increased life expectancy and reduced infant mortality.  Epstein further states that “millions of individuals in industrialized countries finally have their first light bulb, their first refrigerator, their first decent paying job, their first year with clean drinking water or a full stomach.” Hence, the moral case for fossil fuels is ultimately not about fossil fuels; it is the moral case for using cheap, plentiful, reliable energy to amplify our abilities to make the world a better place for human beings.

Shame on our leaders for proposing massive bans on fossil fuels with the promise that these radically inferior technologies will be their replacements, reflecting either an ignorance or indifference to the need for efficient cheap reliable energy for 1.3 billion people without electricity and over 3 billion who do not have adequate electricity.

In summing up his moral argument, Epstein made this excellent and common sense statement:

We don’t want to save the planet from human beings; we want to improve the planet for human beings. We need to say this loudly and proudly. We need to say that human life is our one and only standard of value.  And we need to say that the transformation of our environment, the essence of our survival, is a supreme virtue.  We need to recognize that to the extent we deny either, we are willing to harm real flesh and blood human beings for some antihuman dogma.

In a message to media and legislators:  “We will no longer take it!”

The time has come for truths to be told, and for the media to provide facts and articles by skeptics. We no longer are confident in the reporting on this important issue, nor do we have confidence in those who have already proven to have reported misinformation.  It is imperative that the unreported agendas of those at the highest level of government be fully documented by credible sources and revealed for what they portend for future generations of Americans.

While we are grateful more climate scientists and experts from other related fields have begun to carefully study these important issues and are finding fault with highly reported conclusions, we must demand their work be printed and reported. The views of skeptics are important for us and future generations, so that any misrepresented figures, deceptions, and mistakes are widely reported and revealed to the public.

It may become necessary for an enlightened public to demand that the media cease their practice of only publishing material that reflects the views of the U.N. and those of the ilk of Al Gore.  Accordingly, when so-called “established” facts are refuted, they must be reported as such by a media that has proven itself highly prejudiced to only one viewpoint.  The public deserves a two-sided debate, and it may come to the point citizens may have to demand it.

It is up to informed citizens, scientists and other experts to investigate and report false or questionable information about global warming in order to set the record straight.  Those with opposing opinions and fact must write letters and articles to newspapers and other offending media sources.  Any media source that refuses to publish credible material should be exposed.  Derelict and biased media sources, and our elected legislators, must know that anything less is unacceptable to a concerned public.

Bravo to The Heartland Institute  for being the leader in the field of education by getting facts out to legislators here in the US, and individuals worldwide, about the false premise of global warming which has been and continues to be pushed worldwide as proposed by UN Agenda 21.

Tnorner & O’Neil:  Fighting climate change through compact cities without cars(Part 1)

Thorner & O’Neil:  UN promotes Global Warming consistent with Agenda 21(Part 2)

Thorner & O’Neil:  Man’s folly to curb CO2 emissions continues to advance unabated (Part 3)

Thorner & O’Neil:  Will Agenda 21 continue to go forward despite proven deception (Part 4)


[Originally published at Illinois Review]

Categories: On the Blog

Schneiderman’s Supplement Scam

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 11:07 AM

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman made a shocking announcement earlier this month. He alleged that DNA tests his office commissioned found that about 80% of GNC supplements tested, including those sold as Ginkgo Biloba, St. John’s Wort, and Ginseng didn’t actually have any of the herb in the capsules.

Mr. Schneiderman issued a cease and desist letter calling for the products to be removed from shelves at GNC, as well as for different products sold at Walmart, Walgreens and Target. He also put out a press release filled with self-righteous and self-serving statements from his allies including state legislators calling for the passage of their own bills and from the food police group, Center for Science in the Public Interest, lauding Mr. Schneiderman for doing “what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”

Class action lawyers are already soliciting clients.

These days, plaintiffs’ lawyers don’t have to chase ambulances, they can troll attorneys general.

The moment the news hit, GNC stock plummeted about 5%.

The problem is, Mr. Schneiderman’s DNA tests, which he refuses to release, don’t support his conclusion that herbs weren’t in the pills as marketed.

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Pieter Cohen, who like myself is a longtime critic of the $6 billion supplement industry, disputes Mr. Schneiderman’s use of DNA barcoding to reach the conclusion he did.

“That’s because DNA barcoding looks for a specific fragment of DNA, but the ingredients in herbal supplements are often highly processed — crushed, dissolved, filtered and dried — so that they may no longer contain the particular fragment of DNA that researchers are searching for, making the supplement appear to be mislabeled,” Dr. Cohen said. The biological compounds extracted from the plant—the parts that supposedly have healing powers—would be in the supplement without the DNA sought in the tests.

It’s like searching for the word “god” in a particular sentence of the bible, not finding it, and claiming your research found that there’s no god in the bible.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion.

Mr. Schneiderman either “knew or should have known,” as lawyers like to say, that the test he used wasn’t appropriate for his conclusion. That’s why it isn’t used for this purpose by the industry, its auditors, or the federal FDA. Yet Mr. Schneiderman, who said that “Secrecy breeds corruption, while transparency generates confidence” when launching an “open government” webpage, refuses to share even the basic methodology of his taxpayer-funded study.

Mr. Schneiderman’s junk science conclusion is a triple-whammy for gullible consumers. First, they think the supplements are magical pills with super-healing powers (without the risks of pharmaceuticals). Then, the anti-corporate AG tells them they’ve been defrauded, not because the herbs don’t work, but because the elixir isn’t present. Third, Mr. Schneiderman’s claim that consumers aren’t getting what they are paying for is made of whole cloth.

“Ironically,” wrote former FDA official and Hoover Institution scholar Dr. Henry Miller in Forbes, mislabeling the active ingredients would have been “the best thing about these products for consumers. Many herbal supplements are complex, highly variable and impure.”

In fact, Mr. Schneiderman’s other finding—that there were undisclosed plant products including wheat and rice—seems to be valid, and not at all surprising.

It is clear that Mr. Schneiderman believes that the FDA doesn’t have enough authority to crack down on the shady supplement industry. But that doesn’t give him license to use tactics reminiscent of 1970’s era tobacco industry chicanery to make claims that just aren’t true.

Mr. Schneiderman, New York’s prosecutor-in-chief, claims on his perpetual campaign web page that he has a record of standing up to financial institutions “that think they can play by their own rules.” Yet Mr. Schneiderman’s market-moving bogus attack on GNC and other retailers was founded entirely on his own rules-a bizarre application of a secret DNA test. Who’s going to hold him accountable?


[Originally published at Pundicity]

Categories: On the Blog

Green Slander: The Attacks on Climate Scientists

Somewhat Reasonable - March 01, 2015, 1:58 AM

It is a sure sign that the advocates of the “global warming” and “climate change” hoaxes know that the public no longer believes that the former is occurring or that the latter represents an immediate, global threat.

Even though the “climate skeptics,” scientists who have produced research proving false methodology and the conclusions based on it are quite few in number, an effort to silence them by smearing their reputations and denying funding for their work has been launched and it is based entirely on a lie.

Scientists are supposed to be skeptical, not only of other scientist’s findings, but their own. Good science must be able to reproduce the results of published research. In the case of the many computer models cited as proof that global warming was occurring or would, the passing years have demonstrated that none were accurate.

As Joseph L. Bast, president of The Heartland Institute and Joseph A. Morris, an attorney who has fought in several countries to defend free speech, wrote in a February 24 commentary, “The Crucifixion of Dr. Wei-Hock Soon,” of an article co-authored with Christopher Monckton, Matt Briggs, and David Legates, and published in the Science Bulletin, a publication of the Chinese Academy of Sciences “The article reveals what appears to be an error in the computer models used to predict global warming that leads models to over-estimate future warming by a factor of three.” (Emphasis added) Their commentary has been downloaded more than 30,000 times!

“If the work of Soon et al is confirmed by other scientists, the ‘global warming crisis’ may need to be cancelled and we can all enjoy lower taxes, fewer regulations, and more personal freedom.” However, “having failed to refute the article, environmentalists turned to smearing the authors.”

Little wonder the “Warmists” are worried; the Earth has been in a cooling cycle since 1996. People are noticing just how cold this record-breaking and record-setting winter is.

The attack on Dr. Soon began with a Greenpeace news release that was republished on the front page of The New York Times on February 22nd. Despite its august reputation, The Times’ coverage of climate issues has been an utter disgrace for decades. As public interest waned, it eliminated its staff of reporters exclusively devoted to writing about the “environment.”

Myron Ebell, a climate change skeptic and director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, noted on February 27th that the Greenpeace attack on Dr. Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics claimed they had secured $1.2 million in funding for his research over the past decade and that it came from energy corporations, electric utilities, and charitable foundations related to those companies.  The truth, however, is “that the grants were made not to Dr. Soon but to the Smithsonian, which never complained while taking its sizable cut off the top.”

Columnist Larry Bell who is also an endowed professor at the University of Houston, disputed the Greenpeace claim, saying, “First, let’s recognize that the supporting FOIA documents referred to an agreement between the Smithsonian (not Dr. Soon) and Southern Company Services, Inc., whereby 40 percent of that more than $1.2 million went directly to the Smithsonian” leaving “an average funding of $71,000 a year for the past eleven years to support the actual research activities.”

Focusing on Greenpeace and its Climate Investigations Center which describes itself as “a group funded by foundations seeking to limit the risks of climate change”, Bell asked “Do these activist organizations make their estimated $360,000,000 annual funding publicly available?” Bell said “Ad hominem assaults disparaging the integrity of this leading authority on relationships between solar phenomena and global climate are unconscionable.”

In his article, “Vilifying realist science—and scientists,” Paul Driessen, a policy advisor to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), noted that in 2012 Greenpeace USA was the recipient of $32,791,149 and that this is true of other environmental pressure groups that in 2012 secured $111,915.138 for the Environmental Defense Fund, $98,701,707 for the Natural Resources Defense Council, $97,757,678 for the Sierra Club, and, for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, $19,150,215.

“All told,” noted Driessen, “more than 16,000 American environmental groups collect(ed) total annual revenues of over $13.4 billion (2009 figures). Only a small part of that comes from membership dues and individual contributions.”  With that kind of money you can do a lot of damage to scientist’s reputation.

They fear that the public may actually learn the truth about “global warming” and the fear-mongering claims about “climate change” does not stop with just the environmental organizations. At the same time The New York Times was printing the Greenpeace lies, U.S. Senators Ed Market (D-Mass), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) joined together on February 25th to send letters to 107 companies, trade associations, and non-profit groups demanding comprehensive information about all funding of research on climate or related issues.

Among the groups receiving the letter were two for whom I am a policy advisor, The Heartland Institute and CFACT, but others include the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the George C. Marshall Institute, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the American Energy Alliance.

Following The New York Times article, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to the presidents of seven universities asking them to provide details about seven professors who are either prominent global warming skeptics.

As Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, pointed out on February 27th, that “Science as an enterprise usually doesn’t need political enforcers. But proponents of a climate alarmism that demands immediate action to avert worldwide catastrophe won’t and can’t simply let the science speak for itself.”

This is not fact-finding. It is an act of intimidation.

And it looks like a carefully organized effort to quash any research that might dispute “global warming” or “climate change” as defined by the Greens and by both the President and the Secretary of State as the greatest threat we and the rest of the world faces.

The greatest threat is the scores of environmental organizations that have been exaggerating and distorting their alleged “science” in order to thwart development here and around the world that would enhance everyone’s life. Now they are attacking real scientists, those who are skeptical of their claims, to silence them.

This is what fascists do.

[First published at Warning Signs.]

Categories: On the Blog
Syndicate content