February 17th, 2012
By Brian Wingfield
Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- House Republicans asked U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu about a $1.4 billion partial loan guarantee to a solar-energy company that was to buy panels from failing Solyndra LLC, which went out of business three months later.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee today said Chu may have intervened on behalf of San Francisco-based Prologis Inc. in June 2011 and help prop up Solyndra after restructuring its $535 million U.S. loan. The panel said documents obtained in its investigation, and not released, showed Solyndra was to be the only supplier in the first phase of Prologis’s Project Amp to install equipment on rooftops managed by the company.
Representative Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican and committee head, and Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican and chairman of the investigations panel, “are greatly concerned at the extraordinary measures the Obama administration appears to have taken in keeping Solyndra afloat,” the committee said in a statement.
The lawmakers asked Chu in a letter released today to provide by Feb. 24 a range of documents to get a better understanding of the “Project Amp loan guarantee, as well as the relationship between Solyndra and Project Amp.”
Feb. 21 Deadline
Separately, House Republicans said tonight that the White House had turned over an additional 463 pages of documents and e-mails in response to subpoenas issued in November. The lawmakers said in a statement that the administration still hadn’t fully complied with the investigation and set a Feb. 21 deadline to provide the panel with all documents related to Solyndra.
Republicans have questioned whether President Barack Obama’s campaign fundraiser George Kaiser, whose family foundation was Solyndra’s biggest investor, pressed for the $535 million loan. Kaiser has said he didn’t lobby. Prologis’s co- chief executive officers have contributed to Republicans, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney, and Democrats.
Solyndra fired 1,100 workers on Aug. 31, and sought bankruptcy protection on Sept. 6.
When Prologis’s loan closed in late September, Solyndra wasn’t a supplier to Project Amp, Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said. The Energy Department announced Sept. 30 that Prologis’s loan guarantee had closed, though the company received a conditional commitment in June, according to the House committee.
“Secretary Chu strongly supported Project Amp because it will be the largest rooftop project in U.S. history and is expected to generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power over 88,000 homes while supporting at least a thousand jobs all across the country,” LaVera said in an e-mail.
Project Amp was supported by companies including Bank of America Corp. of Charlotte, North Carolina, and NRG Energy Inc. of Princeton, New Jersey, he said.
Chu may have pushed U.S. backing for Prologis while the Energy Department helped renegotiate Solyndra’s loan as part of a last-ditch U.S. effort to keep the Fremont, California-based company alive, according to the committee’s statement.
“It appears that Solyndra’s involvement in Project Amp was a significant factor both in the negotiations” to avoid Solyndra’s bankruptcy and to close the loan guarantee for Prologis, Upton and Stearns said in the letter to Chu.
Energy Department employees took part in negotiations between Solyndra and Prologis on the roof project, helping to work out a “shipment schedule, the number of megawatts Solyndra would supply and the price per watt,” the lawmakers said in the letter.
Upton and Stearns want communications and documents related to Project Amp and Solyndra since Jan. 1, 2010, according to the letter.
“As has consistently been the case in the course of this committee’s year-long political investigation, critics of our effort to support innovative, job-creating clean energy projects will say anything to distort the record,” LaVera said.
Representatives from San Francisco-based Prologis didn’t have a comment.
Prologis Chairman and co-Chief Executive Officer Hamid R. Moghadam donated $2,500 to Romney’s presidential campaign in July, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. He also gave $2,000 to support House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in August and $1,000 for Representative George Miller, a California Democrat, in September, records show.
Walter C. Rakowich, a co-CEO, contributed $1,000 to Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, in March 2011 and $2,500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in August, according to the FEC. Rakowich gave Representative Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, $1,000 in March 2010.
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--With assistance from William McQuillen in Washington. Editors: Steve Geimann, Jon Morgan To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at email@example.com
February 17th, 2012
February 17th, 2012
New evidence has emerged to support the disputed theory that Adolf Hitler had a secret son in 1918 after an affair with a teenage French mistress, a French newsmagazine reported Friday.
The man, Jean-Marie Loret, died in 1985 after an eventful life that saw him join the French Resistance and fight German forces led by the man who the evidence suggests was his father. Loret claimed to be Hitler's son in an autobiography he published in 1981. The claim has been hotly debated by historians ever since, with the weight of opinion concluding that the story was bunk.
The new evidence — which includes handwriting analysis, documents indicating Hitler secretly supported the woman financially and paintings signed "Adolf Hitler" discovered in her home — is outlined by Le Point magazine, whose report Friday was widely picked up in the French media but largely ignored by German news outlets.
The evidence comes from Loret's lawyer, Francois Gibault, who said Loret's children could use it to establish a claim to royalties from Hitler's manifesto, "Mein Kampf."
Loret's 30-year-old autobiography is also expected to be republished to include the new evidence.
Loret's mother, Charlotte Lobjoie, was 16 when Hitler, who was a corporal serving with German forces in France in World War I, supposedly had an affair with her while on leave in 1917.
Loret wrote that his mother told him that she was working in a hayfield in Fournes-en-Weppe with other young women when they spotted the young soldier drawing on a sketch pad across the street. She was chosen to go ask him what he was doing.
"He was attentive and friendly," she told her son, and that sparked a relationship that lasted several weeks.
Le Point writes:
One evening in June 1917, returning a little drunk from a night out with a friend, he [Hitler] got frisky with Charlotte. In March of the next year, a son was born. ...
Years passed, and Charlotte refused to talk about the mysterious circumstances of her son's birth. Destitute and vaguely shamed, she gave up custody of her son to another family in 1934.
His "real father" refused to see him but continued from time to seek to ask for news about him from his mother.
A few weeks before she died in the early '50s, Charlotte confessed to her son the true identity of her father. The shock was terrible.
In his 1981 book, "Your Father's Name Was Hitler," Loret wrote: "In order not to fall into anxiety, I worked tirelessly, never taking vacation — 20 years without going to a movie."
Le Point quoted Guibalt on Friday as saying that during the 1970s, however, Loret began seeking evidence of his parentage. He hired several experts: a historian, who visited his childhood home and questioned witnesses; a geneticist from the University of Heidelberg, who compared Hitler's and Loret's blood types; and a handwriting analyst, who compared their writings.
"All reached the same conclusion," Le Point reported. "Jean-Marie Loret was probably the son of Adolf Hitler."
"When he came to me in 1979, I had before me a lost man who did not know whether he wanted to be recognized as the son of Adolf Hitler," the magazine quoted Guibalt as saying.
"He experienced the feelings of many illegitimate children: the desire to discover his past, but also a fear of the old memories. I talked with him a lot, playing more the role of a psychologist than a lawyer," Guibalt said.
The magazine reported that the new evidence includes paintings signed "Adolf Hitler" — Hitler was a painter before going into politics — that were discovered in the attic of Lobjoie's home, as well as a Hitler-signed portrait of a woman believed to be Lobjoie that was discovered in Germany.
It also includes documents that Le Point said establish that officers of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces, hand-delivered envelopes of cash to Lobjoie during the German occupation of France.
Loret, meanwhile, was with Resistance forces at the Maginot Line in 1939, Le Point reported, and in 1940, his unit fought a fierce battle against German troops in the Ardennes. During the German occupation, Loret worked as a Resistance spy under the name "Clement," it said.
Now, Gibault said, Loret's children could have a claim to royalties from "Mein Kampf," the philosophy of which Loret fought bitterly during World War II.
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February 17th, 2012
Forbes / David Coursey, Contributor
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doesn’t want drivers tweeting, texting, browsing or dialing in an automobile that is in motion. So he’s proposed rules that would require automaker-installed devices to stop working whenever the wheels were moving. He says this will save lives.
This is mostly a laudable idea that doesn’t go far enough. If LaHood had guts, he’d make sure an impaired driver could never start an automobile in the first place.
Then he’d ban angry spouses, upsetting radio programs, screaming children, pets of all kinds, daydreaming and everything else that might take a driver’s attention from the road. Maybe if the decibel level inside the car rose above a set level, a ticket would automatically be issued to the driver and passengers for noisy driving.
What i really think is the new rules will merely slow sales of built-in electronics. Aftermarket electronics will be exempt from the ban and allow you to do whatever you want.
Still, with exemptions for speed dialing, 911 calls, and maybe for voice controls for GPS, I support LaHood’s proposal.
According to the Washington Post:
The new federal guidelines, published Thursday in the Federal Register and subject to a 60-day period of public comment, recommend that manufacturers make it impossible for drivers to perform many functions while a vehicle is in motion, including: to send or look at text messages; browse the Internet; tweet or use social media such as Facebook; enter information in navigation systems; enter 10-digit phone numbers; or receive any type of text information of more than 30 characters unrelated to driving.
Many of those things are stupid, unnecessary and should be illegal. But, how do we deal with passengers being allowed to do those things while someone else drives? Will a button that says, “I promise that I am not driving,” really stop drivers from doing whatever they want?
While LaHood is at it, perhaps he can make sure I don’t have to listen to someone else’s blaring music in my own car at stop lights. And limit the volume so drivers can hear my paramedic friends’ sirens enroute to a call. The combination of a loud car stereo and lots of noise-deadening insulation keeps drivers blissfully aware of the emergency rig right behind them.
We should concentrate on technology that notices when a driver is actually distracted and diverts their attention back to driving. We should also create better user interfaces that might improve driver attention rather than divert it.
And I know some kids who might be alive today if their car had been more intelligently able to react to an emergency manuever that rolled the vehicle into an irrigation canal.
We could also place accelerometers into all kinds of devices that would ask the user to confirm they weren’t driving when they started using the device while traveling about some set speed. Would it help? I wonder.
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February 17th, 2012
A 29-year-old Moroccan man who authorities say wanted to be the first suicide bomber on U.S. soil was arrested Friday after strapping on what he thought was an explosive vest and heading for the U.S. Capitol, CBS News' John Miller reports.
A source told CBS News' John Nolen that the suspect was identified as Amine El Khalifi, a Moroccan citizen who has lived in the United States for more than 12 years. He was taken down by FBI agents and U.S. Capitol Police officers in Alexandria, Va., outside Washington. An intelligence source confirmed the suspect's name to CBS News.
The Justice Department announced that El Khalifi was charged "by criminal complaint with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property that is owned and used by the United States." He faces life in prison if convicted.
El Khalifi made a brief appearance in federal court in Alexandria on Friday afternoon. He was wearing a green shirt and black parts and holding his arms together behind his back.
A judge set a bail hearing in his case for Wednesday at 2 p.m.
In a statement released by the Justice Department, Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco said: "Today's case underscores the continuing threat we face from homegrown violent extremists. Thanks to a coordinated law enforcement effort, El Khalifi's alleged plot was thwarted before anyone was harmed."
Added FBI Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin: "This individual allegedly followed a twisted, radical ideology that is not representative of the Muslim community in the United States. He became known to the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) because of his stated desire to carry out attacks in the U.S., specifically, the U.S. Capitol building. This arrest is the result of dedicated special agents, task force officers and intelligence analysts from the FBI and our partner law enforcement agencies that make up the JTTF."
Last December, the suspect allegedly told an undercover law enforcement officer that he planned to detonate a bomb at an Alexandria building that contained offices for the U.S. military, Nolen reported. His plans changed until he settled on the Capitol. Other targets the suspect allegedly considered were a synagogue and a Washington restaurant frequented by members of the military.
A high-ranking source told CBS News the man was "never a real threat."
Undercover FBI agents met with the suspect Friday morning in his garage, giving him a vest filled with explosives that had previously been rendered inoperable, Miller reported. The agents also provided the suspect with an impaired automatic firearm that he allegedly planned to use to shoot U.S. Capitol Police officers, Nolen reported.
Both the House and the Senate were in session Friday voting on a deal to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits.
At some point, the suspect came close to actual explosives and allegedly participated in a demonstration of an improvised-explosive device in a quarry, Nolen reported.
El Khalifi came to the U.S. when he was 16 years old and is unemployed and not believed to be associated with al Qaeda. He had been under investigation for about a year and had overstayed his visitor visa for years, a counterterrorism official and a government official briefed on the matter told The Associated Press on a condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Police are close to arresting one of his associates on charges unrelated to the terror conspiracy, the counterterrorism official said. The associate was said to also be a Moroccan, living here illegally. Police are investigating others El Khalifi associated with, but not because they believe the associates were part of a terror conspiracy, the official said.