Friday, September 30, 2011


Nancy Pelosi's brother-in-law is given $737m of taxpayers' money to build giant solar power plant in middle of the desert

  • Obama administration approved $1bn in green energy loans days after failed Solyndra project due to be completed
  • $737m handed to Crescent Dunes project in Tonopah, Nevada, for 110-megawatt desert solar power plant
  • Investors include firm Minority leader's brother-in-law and major Solyndra stakeholder
  • Republicans warn Energy Department is 'rushing' $5bn in loans ahead of Friday deadline

Last updated at 9:35 PM on 29th September 2011

Cronyism? A solar energy project backed by Nancy Pelosi's brother has been granted a massive government loan (file picture)
Cronyism? A solar energy project backed by Nancy Pelosi's brother has been granted a massive government loan (file picture)
Nancy Pelosi is facing accusations of cronyism after a solar energy project, which her brother-in-law has a stake in, landed a $737 million loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, despite the growing Solyndra scandal.
The massive loan agreement is raising new concerns about the use of taxpayers' money as vast sums are invested in technology similar to that of the doomed energy project.
The investment has intensified the debate over the effectiveness of solar energy as a major power source.
The SolarReserve project is backed by an energy investment fund where the Minority Leader's brother-in-law Ronald Pelosi is second in command.
PCG Clean Energy & Technology Fund (East) LLC is listed as one of the investors in the project that has been given the staggering loan, which even dwarfs that given to failed company Solyndra.
Other investors include one of the major investors in Solyndra, which is run by one of the directors of Solyndra.
Steve Mitchell, who served on the board of directors at the bankrupt energy company, is also managing director of Argonaut Private Equity, which has invested in the latest project.
Since Solyndra has filed for bankruptcy has been asked to testify about the goings on at the firm by two members of the House and 'asked to provide documents to Congress'.
Generator: Artist's impression of the solar plant being constructed north west of Tonopah, Nevada
Generator: Artist's impression of the solar plant being constructed north west of Tonopah, Nevada
The artist's impression shows the incredible size of the giant solar power plant, which is being bankrolled by President Obama's green jobs fund.
Energy will be generated using concentrated solar power technology, in which a series of mirrors direct sunlight to a receiver at the centre of the plant.
The 'solar tower' in the middle, which will be taller than the Washington Monument, is the first of its kind to be built.
Stretching out across a plain in Tonopah, Nevada, the mind-bogglingly big project will generate enough electricity to power 43,000 homes.
But the joint announcement by Energy Secretary Steven Chu comes just two days after the doomed Solyndra project, which cost the taxpayer $528 million from the same cash pot, was meant to be completed.


The loan agreement comes as questions are raised about the effectiveness of solar power as a major energy source.
Although solar energy plants are typically comparatively cheap to operate, they are extremely expensive to build.
The proposed Nevada plant, which will provide power for 43,000 homes, is receiving a $737 million taxpayer loan, as well as private investment.
The low amounts of power generated by solar energy plants has also been criticised. To replace existing energy sources with solar plants would take up large amounts of land and cost vast amounts of money.
The project approval came as part of $1 billion in new loans to green energy companies yesterday.
Republican critics of the President Obama's solar energy program have voiced their outrage at the new loans while the Solyndra scandal is still being investigated.
They have raised concerns that the Department of Energy is rushing through the approval of loans before stimulus funds expire on Friday.
While the departments insists the projects are being properly vetted, some lawmakers have written to express concern that they vast loans are not being adequately scrutinised.
'The administration’s flagship project Solyndra is bankrupt and being investigated by the FBI, the promised jobs never materialised, and now the Department of Energy is preparing to rush out nearly $5 billion in loans in the final 48 hours before stimulus funds expire — that’s nearly $105 million every hour that must be finalised until the deadline,' said Florida representative Cliff Stearns, who is chairman of the investigations subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Tom Schatz, president of Washington-based advocacy group Citizens Against Government Waste, said: 'It is time for a full audit of their activities, their management and their results.
'Candidly, it might be time for the federal government to rethink the whole idea of loan programs.'
Energy Department spokesman Damien LaVera said the project, which was had extensive reviews that included scrutiny of the parent companies' finances.
Investigation: Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover are sworn in at a House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing
Investigation: Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison and Chief Financial Officer Bill Stover are sworn in at a House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee hearing


Overspend: Sign at the entrance to the lavish headquarters of bankrupt Solyndra, which is now shuttered
The shocking scale of spending Solyndra  lavished on the factory it started building alongside Interstate 880 in Fremont, California, has been revealed.
When it was completed at an estimated cost of $733 million, including proceeds from the company's $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, it covered 300,000 sq ft, the equivalent of five football fields.
It had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms.
John Pierce, 54, a San Jose resident who worked as a facilities manager at Solyndra, said: 'The new building is like the Taj Mahal.'
Designed to make far more solar panels than Solyndra got orders for, the site is now empty and U.S. taxpayers may be stuck with it.
Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection on September 6, leaving in its wake investigations by Congress and the FBI.
Mr Chu said the two projects will create about 900 construction jobs and at least 52 permanent jobs.
He added: 'If we want to be a player in the global clean energy race, we must continue to invest in innovative technologies that enable commercial-scale deployment of clean, renewable power like solar.'
The 110-megawatt Crescent Dunes project will use the sun’s heat to create steam that drives a turbine, SolarReserve, which is based in Santa Monica, California.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is a strong supporter of the Nevada project, which he says will help his state's economy recover. Former Governor Jim Gibbons, a Republican, also supported the project.
Mr Pelosi is one of several controversial figures set to benefit from the huge loan agreement.
The loan approvals came just two days before the renewable energy loan program approved under the 2009 economic stimulus law is set to expire. At least seven projects worth more than $5 billion are also waiting to be approved.
California-based solar panel maker Solyndra Inc went bankrupt after receiving its money and laid off 1,100 workers. The firm is now under investigation by the FBI.
It was the first renewable-energy company to receive a loan guarantee under a stimulus-law program to encourage green energy and was frequently touted by the Obama administration as a model.
President Barack Obama visited the company's Silicon Valley headquarters last year, and Vice President Joe Biden spoke by satellite at its groundbreaking ceremony.
Since then, the company's failure has become an embarrassment for Obama.
Nut Scott Crider, a spokesman for Sempra Generation, a Sempra Energy subsidiary that is developing the Arizona project, said its loan guarantee was not as risky as the Solyndra loan.
Most important, the project has a 20-year agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to buy power supplied by the solar plant, he said
Mr Crider claimed the purchase agreement is a key element of the project and will 'provide assurance that there are sufficient revenues in place to support the loan guarantee'.
A similar agreement is in place in Nevada. NV Energy, the state's largest electric utility, has agreed to buy power from the Tonopah tower, which will connect to NV Energy's power grid.

Read more:


GOP starting line inches toward New Year's Day ... another one bites the dust ... ! Who will remain?
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- So much for pushing back the start of primary season.

Despite efforts by both political parties to avoid a repeat of 2008 by delaying early presidential primaries and caucuses, states trying to increase their influence are leapfrogging their dates, threatening to push the first Republican contests into early January - again.

A Florida commission is expected to announce Friday that its presidential primary will be held Jan. 31, according to Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, though GOP officials from other states are lobbying Florida to reconsider.

The move by Florida could spark a stampede by Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which were granted special status by both political parties, allowing them to hold the first nominating contests.

"The bottom line is, if Florida moves, I'm moving," said South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly, who has the authority to schedule the state's Republican primary. "We're going to be the first in the South presidential preference primary, no matter what it takes."

Connelly said he would try to schedule South Carolina's primary as close to Florida's as possible, perhaps holding it the Saturday before the Florida vote, on Jan. 28. That scenario could push the Iowa GOP caucuses to Jan. 9, followed by the New Hampshire primary Jan. 17 and the Nevada causes Jan. 21.

This scenario, however, assumes that no other state jumps into January.

"Iowa will be first. The only open question is the date on which we hold our first in the nation caucuses," Iowa GOP chairman Matthew Strawn said. "Ironically, in attempting to assert increased relevance in the process, Florida's move only elevates the importance of Iowa and the other early states. A compressed caucus and primary calendar makes doing well in the four kickoff states a necessity for a candidate to secure the Republican nomination."

Georgia broke the trend Thursday, announcing it will hold its primary March 6, the 2012 version of Super Tuesday.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has emerged as the Republican front-runner, with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney his chief rival. Farther back in the polls are Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.

The RNC deadline for setting primary and caucus dates is Saturday, though some states may miss it. Those states could have their delegations challenged at the national convention in Tampa, Fla. Four years ago, New Hampshire waited until Nov. 21 to schedule its primary, which was held Jan. 8. That year, the Iowa caucuses led the way on Jan. 3.

By law, New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner must schedule the Granite State's primary at least seven days ahead of all similar contests. State party rules require Nevada to hold its Republican caucuses four days after New Hampshire's primary, Nevada GOP Chairwoman Amy Tarkanian said.

The Republican National Committee tried to regain control of the primary calendar by passing a rule that penalizes states that schedule nominating contests before March 6, requiring them to forfeit half their delegates to the national convention. Special provisions were made for Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina, which were allowed to schedule contests in February.

The goal was to delay the beginning of a primary season that many believe starts too early, lasts too long and leaves voters weary long before the November general election.

"The whole idea of the RNC rules was to bring maybe a little more sanity to the process by getting it out of the holiday season so that people weren't getting phone calls on Christmas Eve," Saul Anuzis, a member of the Republican National Committee from Michigan, said in an interview.

Michigan risks losing half its delegates because the state has scheduled a primary for Feb. 28, the same day as Arizona. Anuzis said the Michigan date is set by state law.

Colorado, Minnesota and Maine are also looking to hold GOP caucuses in early February. They won't violate party rules if their straw polls don't actually award delegates to candidates, though they would compete for attention with other early voting states.

The Missouri primary date is set for Feb. 7 by state law. The contest will be held, but state GOP leaders decided on Thursday to abandon the balloting to award delegates. Instead, state leaders decided, candidate delegates would be selected in caucuses to be held on March 17. The primary essentially becomes a multimillion dollar poll.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus has no leeway to wave the penalties for states that break the rules, spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said.

"The rules are the rules," Kukowski said. "Any state that violates the rules will lose 50 percent of their delegates."

Four years ago, Florida and Michigan held early GOP primaries against party rules, and were supposed to lose half their delegates. Eventually, the states had their entire delegations seated at the national convention, though they lost half their votes in a nomination election that was already a forgone conclusion.

"My overall frustration is, we've got this set of rules that we're not going to follow," Connelly said. "So it just means that the party's rules have no teeth, and all these states can jump the date."

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said there was little appetite in Georgia to break party rules and schedule an earlier contest. Besides, he said, he expects the GOP nomination to still be in doubt on March 6, giving Georgia plenty of influence in deciding the nominee.

"I think that they're going to uphold the rules," Kemp said. "If they don't, there's going to be hell to pay, if you will, in four years."

In Florida, a commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders has until Saturday to set the state's primary date. The commission is scheduled to announce its decision Friday, and RNC officials have been lobbying Florida to reconsider the Jan. 31 date. But, said Cannon, the Florida House speaker, "My job is to protect the voters of Florida and worry about the Republican National Committee rules second."


Dead Horse Political Theory
If you don't understand this theory, you haven't lived long enough.
The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that, "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."
However, in government, education, and in corporate America, more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:
1. Buying a stronger whip.
2. Changing riders.
3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living-impaired.
7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.
10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
And of course....
13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


If venture capitalists aren't financing a "green investment" then does that send a bad signal that it may be a very risky project? A cold wind is blowing!

Everybody now knows that the DOE blew it when it guaranteed roughly $530 million dollars of loans to the "green" solar firm Solyndra. But, we do not know what criteria the DOE used to judge whether this was (ex-ante) a good use of public funds. Read this letter --- SUBJECT: Lack of transparency in the DOE Loan Guarantee Program sent to Secretary Chu in 2010. Many people have wondered how the DOE evaluates potentially promising proposals. A for profit bank will use statistical models to try to predict the probability of default.

In the case of this loan, the DOE had more a complex objective. It wanted to spur new U.S green economy research and it wanted to stimulate the economy and it wanted to be paid back. What information did DOE officials receive that allowed them to make a decision? Did the company provide projections concerning job growth over the short run? How could DOE evaluate the merits of such claims? It is well known in the transportation literature that project boosters always overstate ex-ante the likely ridership of new subway lines to encourage politicians to invest in them.

  • "The difference isn't the nature of the risks, rather the nature of the investor -- the federal government, straying far from its domain of demonstrated competence. This is the core issue I see in the Solyndra situation, but one that seems to be getting overlooked. The Title 17 loan guarantee program, in all of its various forms including a swath of more recent even larger plans to have a federal "Clean Energy Bank", is poorly structured to achieve success. It puts a handful of largely invisible bureaucrats and advisors in the position of making unprecedented wealth transfers to fund high risk private ventures."
  • "Solyndra made a bad bet, investing heavily in a new type of solar array just as the price of silicon, the main ingredient in competitors’ solar cells, was dropping. Its demise should not spell the end of federal investment in the alternative fuels and energy sources that are critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, easing this country’s dependence on fossil fuels and keeping it competitive in the race for clean-energy jobs."

  • It wasn’t just any factory. When it was completed at an estimated cost of $733 million, including proceeds from a $535 million U.S. loan guarantee, it covered 300,000 square feet, the equivalent of five football fields. It had robots that whistled Disney tunes, spa-like showers with liquid-crystal displays of the water temperature, and glass-walled conference rooms.
  • The building, designed to make far more solar panels than Solyndra got orders for, is now shuttered, and U.S. taxpayers may be stuck with it. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6, leaving in its wake investigations by Congress and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a Republican-fueled political embarrassment for the Obama administration, which issued the loan guarantee. About 1,100 workers lost their jobs.
  • In a company's press release on the groundbreaking for the plant, that it had a backlog of $2 billion in orders for its cylindrical solar modules for commercial rooftops, which it touted as cheaper to install and more efficient than competing flat panels. “Backlog” is a term sometimes used loosely in the industry and may not represent firm orders at all, he said.
  • U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu and then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger attended the 2009 groundbreaking for the plant. At the event, Chu said the U.S. solar-energy industry was losing out to countries like China and the loan guarantee, the first awarded by the department under President Barack Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus plan, would ensure the company’s orders would be filled by U.S. workers.
Even as Chu, Gronet and Schwarzenegger were thrusting their shovels into the dirt, market forces were working against Solyndra. The price of polysilicon, the main ingredient in competing traditional solar panels, had plunged. By the time the plant opened last January, the price would be down about 40 percent from when Solyndra got the loan guarantee. Chinese companies were ramping up production of their ever-cheaper competing flat panels.

Solyndra executives rushed construction in a race to fill orders, putting some work on a 24-hour, seven-day schedule. The factory was up and ready for equipment installation in 10 months. The project employed more than 3,000 union construction workers, according to a Solyndra background sheet.

The plant features 19 loading docks, four electric car charging stations in the parking lot and landscaping of wild grass and a rock garden. An automated rail system moved parts through the assembly process.

The plant caught the attention of competitors. “Everybody I know in the solar industry would remark on it and say ‘Boy, that’s a really, really big factory,’” said Barry Cinnamon, chief executive officer at Westinghouse Solar Inc., a Campbell, California-based solar-panel company that manufactures in China.

About 11.4 percent, or 950,801 square feet, of industrial space was vacant in Fremont in September 2009, according to data from Colliers.

“There was available space that we talked about with them,” Bob Wasserman, Fremont’s mayor, said in an interview. “It was their decision that they needed a new building. Was that a good decision? It didn’t turn out to be.”

John Olenchalk, senior vice president at Kidder Mathews, a commercial real-estate firm in Redwood City, said Solyndra executives considered existing space, including a former Sun Microsystems Inc. facility in nearby Newark that had 218,000 square feet of production space. The company wanted more space and to be near its existing operations, he said.
“A significant percentage of the product we built went into a dumpster because it was defective,” said Craig Ewing, 55, a former maintenance technician. “It seemed like the company accepted that,” he said.

Workers noticed inventory piling up. “The drivers would tell us that the warehouses are getting full,” Santos said. “Sometimes, they’d stay there one or two days before the material was unloaded.”

About two weeks before the company closed, Solyndra CEO Brian Harrison gave an upbeat speech at the new factory, said Romie Sumera, 58, a former equipment-maintenance technician.

A final point. Could the availability of public sector capital actually hurt the company's long run prospects. If a Green CEO knows that he can rely on the government as his sugar daddy then this may create a moral hazard effect such that he invests less effort in building his prototype which he would have needed to convince Venture Capitalists that his firm is a profitable endeavor.


Germany slams 'stupid' US plans to boost EU rescue fund

Germany and America were on a collision course on Tuesday night over the handling of Europe's debt crisis after Berlin savaged plans to boost the EU rescue fund as a "stupid idea" and told the White House to sort out its own mess before giving gratuitous advice to others.

German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said it would be a folly to boost the EU's bail-out machinery (EFSF) beyond its €440bn lending limit by deploying leverage to up to €2 trillion, perhaps by raising funds from the European Central Bank.

"I don't understand how anyone in the European Commission can have such a stupid idea. The result would be to endanger the AAA sovereign debt ratings of other member states. It makes no sense," he said.
Mr Schauble told Washington to mind its own businesss after President Barack Obama rebuked EU leaders for failing to recapitalise banks and allowing the debt crisis to escalate to the point where it is "scaring the world".
"It's always much easier to give advice to others than to decide for yourself. I am well prepared to give advice to the US government," he said.
The comments risk irritating the White House. US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has been a key driver of plans to give the EFSF enough firepower to shore up Italy and Spain, fearing a drift into "cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk" without dramatic action.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Former early Google employee Doug Edwards had a message for President Obama today: Raise my taxes, please.
Edwards, who was employee #59 at Google and is now not working, asked the question in Mountain View, Calif. at the Town Hall event today Obama held with LinkedIn to discuss job creation.
“My question is would you please raise my taxes?” Edwards said from the audience during the question and answer period. “I would like very much for our country to continue to invest in things like Pell grants, infrastructure, job training–programs that made it possible for me to get to where I am. It kills me to see Congress not supporting the expiration of tax cuts that have been benefiting so much of us for so long.”
After asking where Edwards formerly worked (to which Edwards replied coyly, “a search engine”), Obama said that the U.S. needs to invest in education and other infrastructure that makes people successful.
“We’re successful because somebody invested in our education,” Obama said. “Somebody built our schools. I went to school on scholarship… We all benefited somewhere from somebody making an investment in us. If we make those investments how do we pay for it?”
Obama went on to say he wants to take tax rates back to the rates of the 1990s, when the economy was strong and all socio-economic sectors improved. Obama is locked in a battle with Congressional Republicans over job spending and taxes.

Monday, September 26, 2011



I am going to watch those bar codes a LOT more now... I am busy reading the ingredients.. Boy.. shopping is a full time job!!! ALWAYS READ THE LABELS ON THE FOODS YOU BUY--NO MATTER WHAT THE FRONT OF THE BOX OR PACKAGE SAYS, TURN IT OVER AND READ THE BACK---CAREFULLY! With all the food and pet products now coming from China , it is best to make sure you read label at the grocery store and especially Wal-Mart when buying food products.
Many products no longer show where they were made, only give where the distributor is located. It is important to read the bar code to track its origin. How to read Bar Codes .... interesting! This may be useful to know when grocery shopping, if it's a concern to you. GREAT WAY TO "BUY USA & CANADA " AND NOT FROMCHINA!!
The whole world is concerned about China-made "black hearted goods".
Can you differentiate which one is made in Taiwan or China ?

If the first 3 digits of the barcode are 
690 691 or 692, the product is MADE IN CHINA.
471 is Made in Taiwan . 
This is our right to know, but the government and related departments never educate the
 public, therefore we have to RESCUE ourselves.

Nowadays, Chinese businessmen know that consumers do not prefer products "MADE IN CHINA ", so they don't show from which country it is made. 

However, you may now refer to the barcode - remember if the first 3 digits are:
690-692 ... then it is MADE IN CHINA00 - 09 ... USA & CANADA30 - 37 FRANCE40 - 44 GERMANY471 ... Taiwan49 ... JAPAN50 ... UK 
BUY USA & CANADIAN MADE by watching for "0" at the beginning of the number. We need every boost we can get! Pass this on to everybody on your E-Mail Contact List!!
If the government won't help us, we MUST help ourselves.