Google, The Podesta's and Clinton/Obama - All The Same Rats
by Tyler Durden
In the wake of her staggering defeat last November, several historically large contributors to the Clinton Foundation slashed their donations (see here and here), presumably because they either realized their pay-for-play scam was ruined or they suddenly lost interest in the Foundation's various charitable efforts...we'll let you decide which is more likely.
But, the Clinton Foundation isn't the only "influence peddler" taking a hit as a result of Hillary's loss. According to Bloomberg, The Podesta Group, the lobbying firm run by the brother of Hillary's former campaign manager, John Podesta, has just lost a lucrative contract with Google, a key Hillary ally throughout the 2016 campaign.
After at least 12 years together, Alphabet Inc., the parent of Google, won’t be represented by one of Washington’s most prominent lobbying groups, a firm with long-standing ties to the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton.
The Podesta Group -- whose chairman, Tony Podesta, is a major Democratic fundraiser and the brother of Clinton’s former campaign manager -- is no longer lobbying on behalf of Google, public disclosures show. The change coincided with Google’s bid to hire someone for “conservative outreach,” according to a December job advertisement.
Per Bloomberg, The Podesta Group collected $80,000 in fees from Google in the last 3 months of 2016 alone.
But, the story doesn't end there. Ironically, the firing of The Podesta Group seems to coincide with an exclusive report from the Silicon Valley Business Journal that Eric Braverman, the former Clinton Foundation CEO, had been hired to "oversee the non-investment side of the family office of Alphabet Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy."
Of course, as many of our readers will remember, Braverman is the Clinton Foundation CEO who abruptly resigned after a short period in office and was speculated, at least by John Podesta and Neera Tanden, to be the insider who told NBC to "follow the money and find the real HRC scandal" (see "Meet The Man Who Can Expose 'The Real Hillary Clinton Scandal'"). Here is an excerpt of what we previously wrote:
Now, new WikiLeaks emails reveal additional details behind the the man, Eric Braverman, who was brought in as CEO by Chelsea to change the controversial practices of the Foundation but abruptly resigned a short time later after being pushed out by long-time Clinton loyalists who had apparently grown very comfortable with the status quo.
Below is the new email exchange which begins when Neera Tanden warns John Podesta to "keep tabs on Doug Band" who she assumed was the insider who told NBC to "follow the money and find the real HRC scandal." Interestingly, John Podesta writes back quickly to identify the real source as former Clinton Foundation CEO Eric Braverman which seems to be shocking to Tanden who replies simply, "Holy Moses."
That said, the announcement also follows a recent Google job listing looking for a new "Conservative Outreach Manager" that would act as a "liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups" (see "Google Searches For "Conservative Outreach Manager" After Failing To Elect Hillary").
As a member of Google's Public Policy team, you help shape various product and issue agendas with policy makers inside and outside government. In addition, you will help advise our internal teams on the public policy implications of their products, working with a closely coordinated and cross-functional global team. The role requires significant experience either working with or in government, politics or a regulatory agency as well as an ability to grasp complex technical and policy issues.
As a member of Google's Public Policy outreach team, you will act as Google’s liaison to conservative, libertarian and free market groups. You are part organizer, part advocate and part policy wonk as you understand the world of third-party non-governmental advocacy organizations. You are eager to represent Google among those organizations. You can work a room, tell Google’s story in an elevator or from a podium and work with partner organizations on shared projects to advance Google’s public policy goals.
So, what say you...innocent shift in Google's lobbying effort to target a new Republican administration or sweet retribution for Eric Braverman? Bit of both?
John Podesta Opens Keystone Can Of Worms
by Tina Casey
Advocates for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline got a roller coaster of a ride this week when the White House announced the appointment of well known Keystone opponent John Podesta to be White House counselor, only to follow up with an indication that Podesta would recuse himself from the review process for the project. Well, it might be a little too soon to pop the corks for Keystone.
Take a look at Podesta’s work as founder and Chair of the progressive organization Center for American Progress, and you’ll see a record of advocating for renewable energy that goes far deeper than opposing this or that particular fossil fuel project.
In that context, Podesta doesn’t have to recuse himself from the Keystone review in order to have a decisive impact on its outcome.
As a corollary, consider the effect that a relatively modest new $2 million Department of Energy solar energy award could have on the US electric vehicle market (and consequently on domestic demand for petroleum products), and you can see how Podesta’s long time arguments against oil imports will also come into play.
Solana CSP in Arizon (cropped) courtesy of US Department of Energy.
So, let’s go ahead and pick these two things apart, starting with that new solar award.
More Solar Power, More Electric Vehicles, Less Oil
Google's Abengoa Solar is the awardee, and if that name doesn’t ring a bell look on over at Arizona, where the company is just putting the finishing touches on start-up operations for its 280 megawatt Solana solar plant, the largest of its kind in the world. The concentrating solar power (CSP) plant is based on solar energy collectors in the form of large parabolic troughs.
Solana also includes an energy storage feature that enables it to keep churning out electricity for six hours after dark.
The technology has proven successful which is all well and good, but in order to keep driving the cost of solar power down the cost of building similar solar plants will have to come down, too. That’s where the $2 million award comes in.
The award falls under the Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which was established under the Bush Administration and has revved up to speed under the Obama Administration, the goal being to bring the cost of solar power down to parity with fossil fuels.
This particular grant will bring the cost of CSP plants down by streamlining the manufacturing for parabolic troughs, as described by Abengoa:
The goal of this DOE SunShot Initiative project is to improve the cost competitiveness of CSP and will apply precision automation technologies to the manufacturing and final assembly of Abengoa’s new SpaceTube® collector, an advanced parabolic trough design of over 26 feet (8 meters) aperture width. Leveraging the improved structural efficiency and component standardization of the SpaceTube, the objective of the new R&D project is a major reduction in the total cost versus the existing commercial trough technology.
Now consider that this is just one of many SunShot projects, add in other renewables including wind and geothermal, and you can get a glimpse of just how extensive the renewable energy platform for electric vehicles will become in the not too distant future.
When you add in the work being done to advance electric vehicle battery and charging technologies, you’re looking at an electric vehicle market that is going to put a significant crimp on future U.S. petroleum demand.
John Podesta And The Keystone XL Pipeline
That brings us right around to Mr. Podesta again. Forget about Keystone for a minute and check out his views on the tension between domestic renewable energy and oil imports in this article he co-wrote almost two years ago, published in the Wall Street Journal January 24, 2012 under the title “We Don’t Need More Foreign Oil and Gas.”
The article was basically a pitch to renew the Production and Manufacturing tax credits. The subtitle “America is poised to be the world’s clean energy leader” pretty much says it all, but here are a couple of the juiciest quotes starting with the lede:
In the hubbub around the president’s decision not to approve the proposed Keystone XL pipeline between Canada and the United States, Americans missed the big picture. While conservatives have been fighting to build a pipeline to import more foreign oil and deepen U.S. dependence, the U.S. is poised to transform its energy portfolio by developing domestic resources—renewable and mineral—that will let it become a net exporter of clean energy and energy technology in this decade.
For the record, let’s note that the primary goal of the Keystone pipeline, at least in the near future, is to enable increased petroleum exports to the global market from Canada via US ports, not necessarily to increase the amount of oil imported into the US for domestic use (proponents have tried to position the pipeline as a benefit to domestic supply, but that is simply not the case).
In fact, some observers have noted that the pipeline will relieve a transportation bottleneck that has kept fuel prices down in some border states. Approval of the pipeline will reduce the current glut and result in higher fuel prices in that region, not lower prices.
That appears to weaken Podesta’s opposition in terms of imported oil (after all, if Keystone isn’t going to increase oil imports, what’s the big deal?), but only if you neglect the second part of his argument, which is America’s potential to export renewable energy and energy technology.
As an enabler of conventional energy consumption in global markets, the Keystone pipeline comes into direct conflict with America’s competitiveness in those markets, which is no small potatoes. According to Podesta and co-writer Mark Steyer:
America is the largest clean-energy investor, after reclaiming this title from China last year. Our companies make over 75% of all venture investments in clean technologies world-wide. Overall, because of U.S. public and private investments in clean energy—including renewables, efficiency, transportation and infrastructure—the clean economy grew by 8.3% from 2008 to 2009, even during the depths of the recession.
Natural Gas Stealth Attack
To sum up, Podesta’s renewable energy advocacy has a powerful flip side, which is to oppose the growth of petroleum exports from or through the US into global markets, where they will compete with renewable energy, and by association, compete with US companies that are trying to export clean tech.
We caught a glimpse of how fast that global clean tech market is heating up during a recent tech tour of Israel, where the solar vs. diesel race is focused on the increasing demand for electricity in developing economies as well as within the domestic market.
That’s why we’re guessing that Podesta will play an influential role in the final decision on Keystone, if not specifically than as a part of a broader policy that takes the big picture of international markets into account.
If anything, renewable energy advocates should take a closer look at that article (here’s that link again) and note Podesta’s support for the natural gas industry, despite substantial environmental issues related fracking, waste disposal, and fugitive methane emissions.
Update: Our friends over at The Hill have been following the Podesta story closely and I’d really recommend checking them out for upcoming news.
Missouri AG Josh Hawley thinks Google is raping the public and attacking political enemies who can't defend themselves
BY BRYAN LOWRY
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office on Monday issued a subpoena to Google as part of an investigation into whether the tech giant is violating Missouri’s consumer protection and anti-trust laws.
The investigation delves into Google’s collection of data on users and whether Google, the world’s most popular search engine, has manipulated search results at the expense of competitors, according to a release from Hawley’s office.
“When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately,” said Hawley, a Republican who is mounting a campaign for U.S. Senate. “I will not let Missouri consumers and businesses be exploited by industry giants.”
Patrick Lenihan, Google’s spokesman, said in an email that the company has not yet received the subpoena. Lenihan said Google has “strong privacy protections in place for our users and continue to operate in a highly competitive and dynamic environment.”
Hawley’s investigation also will look at whether Google has misappropriated content from competitors. Yelp wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission in September contending that Google has violated a 2012 settlement by allegedly scraping photos from Yelp reviews for its own search results.
“There is strong reason to believe that Google has not been acting with the best interest of Missourians in mind,” Hawley said in a statement. “My Office will not stand by and let private consumer information be jeopardized by industry giants, especially to pad their profits.”
The California-based company had a brand value of nearly $102 billion as of May, according to Forbes.
Google has made significant investments in the Kansas City area, choosing the region to roll out its Google Fiber broadband service in 2011. Google Fiber is now available in 11 metro areas across the country.
Kansas City ranks 22nd out of 25 tech-centric cities in the country.
Jason Boatright The Kansas City Star
“When a company has access to as much consumer information as Google does, it’s my duty to ensure they are using it appropriately,” Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said in a statement. File photo AP