Update (April 5): Fisker has laid off three-quarters of its workforce at its headquaters in Anaheim, owes DOE approximately $193 million | With a substantial repayment of the $529 million loan guarantee it received almost four years ago -- courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer -- coming due at the end of the month, the electric car company Fisker is exploring the idea of filing for bankruptcy before then. Sources have confirmed that an influential law firm from Chicago has been hired to help with the proceedings.
The major networks have been reticent on the subject however, as if they have no intention of breaking the next Solyndra-like scandal. It should be noted that no cars have been built since last July, and 200 of Fisker's American employees were recently furloughed.
The saga all began in 2009 when the Obama administration handed out $1 billion worth of loans to two electric car manufacturers, Fisker and Tesla. The latter appears to be on the verge of becoming profitable, but that assumes there's going to be a substantial number of people willing to pay near $1200 per month in leasing charges.
Fisker promised to do the majority of its auto assembly in Delaware, home of Vice President Joe Biden. Private investment partner Al Gore predicted that tens of thousands would be rolling off the the assembly lines there someday. But alas, two years later, it was revealed that production had shifted to Finland, where 500 workers had been hired to build the $100,000 cars called Karma.
Another report exposed that only 40 cars had been built at the time, and just two had been delivered. One of which was to actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio. Adding insult to injury, over 230 were recalled in late 2011 because of a fire hazard risk in the battery compartment. Luckily, very few were in the hands of consumers anyway.
Asked for comment back in October of 2011, founder and executive chairman Henrik Fisker was defiant. "We're not in the business of failing; we're in the business of winning," he said. "So we make the right decision for the business. That's why we went to Finland." Nearly a year and a half later, he would resign from the company that bears his namesake - citing 'differences with company management' in a March 2013 statement.
Now that the Kirkland & Ellis law firm is getting involved, to presume that a bankruptcy filing is coming isn't far-fetched. We'll keep our eyes open for the media's attention to this, but we're not holding our breath.
What's the correlation between Fox News and Playboy TV?
Well, on a relatively new online game show called Let's Ask America, web cam contestants were playfully asked which one would offend liberal parents more if they stumbled upon their teenage son watching one or the other. (video clip below; h/t email tipster John Heckman)
While President Obama's record-breaking pace to raising a total of $1 billion earlier this month received significant media attention, there was little if any curiosity among the traditional press about how he was on track to achieve such an unprecedented milestone in presidential fundraising. The broadcast networks in particular have not bothered to mention the growing scandal that is being scrupulously pieced together by alternative media outlets.
An independently-owned website Obama.com (redirects to official site here) has been suspected of accepting millions of dollars worth of illegal foreign donations for months now. Despite all the speculation and accusations coming from a nonprofit organization known as the Government Accountability Institute (GAI), no action had been taken until recently.
In their third Presidential debate analysis, the Jurassic Press Media last night and thus far this morning have failed utterly in their role as fact checker and record-corrector - at least when it comes to what President Barack Obama had to say.
As but one glaring example, there were the President’s absurd assertions regarding the auto bailout and China.
The Jurassic Press is missing much in their reporting on the $50 billion bailout of General Motors (GM). The Press is open channeling for President Barack Obama - allowing him to frame the bailout exactly as he wishes in the 2012 Presidential election.
The President is running in large part on the bailout’s $30+ billion loss, uber-failed “success.” And the Press is acting as his stenographers. An epitome of this bailout nightmare mess is the electric absurdity that is the Chevrolet Volt. The Press is at every turn covering up - rather than covering - the serial failures of President Obama’s signature vehicle.
Apple -- the world's most valuable business and an engine of economic growth and personal freedom across the United States and around the world -- is coming under fire because it had the nerve to structure its global business in such a way that saves the company on taxes.
The New York Times has a very lengthy story exploring all of the ways that Apple minimizes its tax bill. The article, entitled "How Apple Sidesteps Billions in Taxes," makes a great effort to tie Apple's strategy, which is legal, to the ongoing budget problems faced by California, where Apple has its global headquarters, and to the federal budget deficit.
Last week abortion proponents thought they had discovered a terrible conspiracy, that covert pro-lifers at Apple had secretly programed the new iPhone feature Siri to be pro-life.
Siri is an “intelligent personal assistant” to which (whom?) you can ask questions, and Siri will answer you. If you ask Siri, “Where can I get a good hotdog?” it will respond, “I found several hotdog restaurants near you,” and list them. Etc.
The death of one of the great innovators of our time, or any time -- Steve Jobs -- brings a question asked by Pete Seeger in another context. To paraphrase: Where have all the (creative) people gone; long time passing. Jobs and fellow computer innovator Bill Gates represent if not a vanishing breed, then at least one that might be classified, were it an exotic animal, as endangered.
In a country that used to encourage, promote, honor and reward innovation, why does there now seem to be far fewer innovators? In our past, they propelled us to higher standards of living and made life more enjoyable and comfortable. If you missed them while studying sex education in school, try Googling "inventors and innovators" and see what pops up.
Parker took a swipe at Romney August 23 for expanding his house: “Mitt Romney has never claimed to be a middle-class man of the people. But the news that he is planning to quadruple the size of his $12 million oceanfront property in the La Jolla section of San Diego, first reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday evening, came at a particularly awkward time.”
Here's what President Barack Obama said about our high rate of unemployment in an interview with NBC's Ann Curry: "The other thing that happened, though — and this goes to the point you were just making — is there are some structural issues with our economy, where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers," adding that "you see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM; you don't go to a bank teller. Or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate." The president's statements suggest that he sees labor-saving technological innovation as a contributor to today's high rate of unemployment. That's unmitigated nonsense. Let's see whether technological innovation causes unemployment.
In 1790, farmers were 90 percent, out of a population of nearly 3 million, of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our labor force was employed in agriculture. By 2008, fewer than 3 percent of Americans were employed in agriculture. Through labor-saving technological advances and machinery, our farmers are the world's most productive. As a result, Americans are better off.
A new iPad children's book featuring gender-shifting parents, "Pop It," is the latest attempt by activists to "educate" children about homosexuality and transgender behaviors.
Artist Raghava KK, featured by CNN.com in 2010 as one of the "top ten people you've never heard of," created an iPad program for toddlers, "Pop It," to teach tolerance and "open-mindedness." The program, innocently enough, shows a child interacting with two parents.
However, shaking the iPad transforms the parents from male homosexuals to heterosexuals to lesbians.
The video-game industry has won again in court, insisting on their right to make the most debased gaming experience imaginable and market it to children with little commercial restraint. On June 27, the Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 against California’s law mandating that children are not allowed to purchase “Mature” video games without a parent.
The political elites are celebrating the Court ruling as a victory for a vibrant First Amendment, rejectinthe very notion of social responsibility on the part of the video-game makers and their often-twisted conceptualization of what constitutes “fun” for children.
Today's starter topic: John Fund at the Wall Street Journal has a good look behind the small group of well-funded left-wing activists who were the moving force behind massive government regulations on Internet ISPs that are going to drive prices up for everyone:
"Good news, comrades! Finally, after years of struggle the Industrialization of the Soviet Union paid off. From the creators of the Communist Manifesto, the October Revolution and the Perestroika comes the best Soviet Union product since Kalashnikov - iStalin! Finally the people will have the privilege to create Soviet posters themselves and spread the communist glory!"
One can't help but be a bit stunned at the audacity of an organization built by Morton Halperin and George Soros lecturing others on "astroturfing." But that same audacity -- not the good Barack Obama kind -- is taken to extremes when that same organization alleges a corporate conspiracy where there simply is none.
Think Progress's Lee Fang was practically giddy that he had uncovered the next vast right-wing conspiracy, proclaiming that a powerpoint "obtained" by the website "reveals how the telecom industry is orchestrating the latest campaign against Net Neutrality" via layers of astroturfing "front groups."
In reality, the powerpoint was the creation not of the giant telecoms that quite openly oppose Net Neutrality, but rather of six students in a contest at a "think tank MBA" program held by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. The whole project cost under $200. And far from being "secret," as Fang claimed, the powerpoint was posted online, as was the audio of the students' presentation to the contest's judges. Some astroturf!
Old Media's fatal conceit is the belief that it's not news unless it's reported by a major newspaper, magazine, or television station. Reports from new and alternative media, in Old Media's eyes, are tainted, and not to be believed...unlike, of course, the reliable, factual, and always objective mainstream media.
NBC White House correspondent Chuck Todd, at right in a file photo, has been a leading critic of what he now has dubbed "Drudge-driven journalism," perhaps better described as journalism emanating from somewhere outside of Old Media's newsrooms and television studios. "I just don't think that that's the proper way for us to decide what's news," he told Mediaite's Tommy Christopher of the Drudge Report's influence and agenda-setting ability.
"There's no worse crime in journalism these days than simply deciding something's a story because Drudge links to it," he added. Apparently he still feels that NBC and its Old Media counterparts are qualified and capable of deciding what is and is not a story.
When Apple CEO Steve Jobs put the New York Times at the center of the ceremonious unveiling of his company's iPad tablet device, the implication was clear: this is the future of the news--or at least Jobs wants us to think it is. He stands to gain not only financially but politically as Apple becomes a major gatekeeper for information.
The news media industry itself is divided on whether e-readers like the iPad and the Amazon Kindle can revitalize the news business. Newspaper sales are, after all, at historial lows. Over 90 newspapers failed last year.
While there are scores of competing theories for why newspapers (and books to a lesser extent) are seemingly on the decline, a prominent and plausible one seems to be that they have lost control of their content. Aggregators like Google News have provided news consumers with faster, more reliable sources for news. The proliferation of the blogosphere has loosened Old Media's grip on that news.
On Twitter, Republicans are absolutely dominant, according to a recent study by a prominent Washington policy analyst. The study found that Republican politicians have far more followers and influence on the micro-blogging site than do their Democratic counterparts.
GOP prominence on online social networks heralds a markedly different trend from the technologically dominant Obama presidential campaign, which outmatched its opponents in virtually (no pun intended) every area of online communications. But necessity is the mother of invention, and having been relegated to the minority both in popular opinion and electoral prominence, Republicans have had to turn to alternative ways to get their messages out.
The Obama presidential campaign indisputably used new media better than any before it to build a virtual army of grassroots supporters, and to wield that army as a powerful tool for fundraising, rapid response messaging, and boots-on-the-ground campaigning.
But the energy that surrounded Obama and his team after the election, and supporters' expectations that President Obama would be the empowering community organizer that was Candidate Obama, fizzled as it became clear--campaign slogans notwithstanding--this administration represented less change then it would have the country believe.
After the election, commentators buzzed about the potential for a small-d democratic upheaval in the American political process that the Obama camp's mastery of new media could bring about. Newsweek summed up the excitement in the lede of an article in late November:
Rupert Murdoch sees a future in journalism. With newspaper circulation at post-war lows and major dailies shutting down in a number of cities, he may be one of the few optimists left. But first, Murdoch claims, the American government must change its obsolete and destructive regulatory policies that, he says, are preventing major news outlets from competing.
"Good journalism is an expensive commodity," Murdoch told an audience at a Federal Trade Commission workshop on the future of journalism today. "Critics say people won’t pay, but I say they will. But only if you give them something good." Murdoch has announced plans to institute paywalls for all online content offered by his giant news conglomerate, News Corp.
Though Murdoch is confident that paywalls would more than make up for revenue lost by shortfalls in advertising dollars, other newspapers' experiences with the system have failed to do so. The New York Times in 2005 began charging for many of its columns, but eliminated the paywall after revenues failed to outweigh advertising dollars. Still, there are a number of unexplored options for online news payment schemes, and Murdoch is no rookie in the news business.
The Wall Street Journal's intrepid and very good Amy Schatz has a piece today updating us on the progress of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s National Broadband Plan.
With all that we have thus far seen, things look quite grim from a free speech, free market perspective. The groundwork for government information totalitarianism - favored by people like Hugo Chavez-loving FCC "Diversity Czar" Mark Lloyd and Marxist "media reform"-outfit Free Press founder Robert McChesney - is being laid in the Plan being crafted by FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
As we first reported, the Center for American Progress (at which Lloyd was then a Senior Fellow) and McChesney's Free Press co-authored the deeply flawed, anti-conservative and Christian talk radio "report" entitled The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio.
But their shared disdain for free speech and the free market extend way beyond just this. These "media reformers" seek to eradicate most or all private ownership of all information delivery - be it by radio, television or the internet - thereby leaving the federal government as sole purveyor.
Twitter has announced that it will end a list service that blatantly favored Democratic politicians by attracting viewers to their profiles while excluding GOP officials from the service.
The list service provided new Twitter users with lists of prominent message-posters they might like to follow. Watchdog groups discovered late last month that Democratic officials were prominently listed by the service, and gaining large swaths of followers as a result, while many prominent GOP politicians were excluded.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who has since withdrawn his bid for Governor, was one suggested user, and had roughly 1.2 million followers when the Associated Press reported the story on October 27. His opponent in the race for the Democratic nomination also appeared on the lists, and garnered 960,000 followers.
But none of the GOP's gubernatorial contenders appeared on the lists, and all three had fewer than 5,000 followers.
Want more evidence print media is giving way to digital formats? According to CNBC "Squawk on the Street" Nov. 3, Internet behemoth Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) could have its sights set on The New York Times (NYSE:NYT).
Brian Shactman, a general assignment reporter for CNBC noted an article in the Nov. 2 Wall Street Journal that indicated a lot of big companies are hoarding cash and short term investments and it pointed out the information technology sector had nearly $280 billion to invest.
"There's so much talk today about M and A," Shactman said of mergers and acquisitions. "Well let's look it forward - some names out there that could be in the offing, some things to think about. Remember The Wall Street Journal said yesterday tech has about $280 billion to work with. Remember Google said they wanted to make about one acquisition a month. They have the cash - they got to speed up."