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Environmental groups have an impact on KKR buyout of TXU Corp - aka Texas Utilities (TXU).   They managed to force the company to reduce the total number of  coal plants being planned in Texas from eleven to three.

Article at Business Week Online.

Did David Neubert buy TXU?

Rain Forest Action Network on "What Happens Next"

The Daily Grist calls it "Texas Fold 'em" 

 

 

 

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This Week in Citizen Joe (7/16/07)
Written by ThePanelist   
The Senate got rolling with its defense authorization bill, HR 1585, last week, but left a lineup of amendments to roll back troops in Iraq - to be voted on this week. Just about every Democrat, and now a growing number of Republicans, have their own pull out plan. The top runners would: start withdrawing troops in 120 days, with most out by next April; shift US troops out from major combat in to Iraqi border patrol and counter-terrorism efforts (in two similar amendments); repeal the 2002 authorization to go to war in the first place; and follow the 79 recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. Senators may also vote to give back habeas corpus (that is, the right to go to court) to enemy combatants in Gitmo.

The House gets back to budgeting with votes on two spending bills - a $32 billion Energy & Water bill, HR 2641, and a $154 billion bill, HR 3043, that covers labor, education and health.

 
Quick Updates on SRI and CSR
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
For those of you who would like a rundown every month of what happened in the world of socially responsible investing and corporate social responsibility, one place to go is The Motley Fool.  Its column "Stocks with Scruples" by S.J. Caplan comes out once a month (usually in the middle of the month) and provides its readers with all of the necessary nuggets to know what happened in the past month in the field.  Though not in depth, the coverage is a great place to keep up-to-date as well as a perfect jumping off point for further research.
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Special Report on the Private Sector and CSR
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
It will come as a surprise to no one that the media has caught on to the “green movement” in a big way this year. It is difficult to pass by a news stand without seeing at least one magazine touting an article about what is really going on in this space.

While many of these articles rehash the same information, interview the same people and generally are less than illuminating, it is important for those trying to explore the world of SRI, CSR, clean energy and all related topics to keep tabs on what is being written. To that effect, I bring you two recent reports made up of several articles exploring the private sector’s shift toward the responsible, social, environmental and otherwise.
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This Week in Citizen Joe (7/9/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   
Photo:Dean Terry, Creative Commons, Flickr

The Senate's defense authorization bill brings the debate on Iraq back to center stage this week, with senators possibly voting on amendments to: start withdrawing troops in 120 days, with most out by next April; repeal the original authorization to go to war; set minimum breaks for soldiers in between deployments and; put in place all 79 recommendations of the Iraq Study Group.

The House keeps its eye on the home front, with votes slated this week to reauthorize the FDA (HR 2900), as well as to cut middle class families some slack on paying college tuition and give the feds more flexibility on doling out Section 8 housing vouchers (HR 1851).
 
This Week in Citizen Joe (7/2/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   

The Senate resuscitates its immigration bill, S 1639, hoping to bring it to a final vote before their Independence week break - but not before senators from both sides of the fence get a chance to nip and tuck the bill (possibly to death) with votes on 24 amendments.

Senators will start the week, however, voting on - and likely failing to pass - HR 800, a bill that'd make it easier to unionize workers through a "card check" system. If they wrap up or derail immigration early, senators may also start working on the yearly defense authorization bill, which could come with another debate over setting a withdrawal time-line for Iraq.

The House, meanwhile, doesn't budge from its budget work, this week voting on Financial Services and Interior-Environment spending bills.

Tacit legislation: cJ usually catches our readers up on what Congress is doing, but this week it’s worth noting what it’s not doing – that is, voting to continue the president’s “fast track” trade authority, which expires this Saturday (see CFR).

 
This Week in CItizen Joe (6/25/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   

The Senate revives its immigration bill, hoping - against the odds - to bring it to a final vote before Independence Day break, but not before senators from both sides of the fence get a chance to nip and tuck at the overhaul bill with 24 amendments.

Senators will start the week, however, voting - and likely failing to pass - a bill, HR 800, that'd make it easier to unionize workers through a "card check" system. If they wrap up, or derail, immigration early, senators may start working on their yearly defense authorization bill.

The House, meanwhile, stays on budget task, possibly voting on its Financial Services and Interior-Environment spending bills.

 
Blackstone IPO Surges, Wall Street Tanks
Written by Thomas Chenoweth   

Investors saw big losses in the markets today, except for the privileged few who rode the Blackstone Group LP (BX) to nice gains on its first day of trading. 

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Nike Gets Responsible
Written by Taeho Lim   
Apparently even the Swoosh feels a sense of moral obligation.  On May 31, Nike (NKE - 53.42) announced a corporate responsibility program designed to overcome its image as a $15 billion corporate empire focused more on its bottom line than its employees, the community, and the world around it.  The Beaverton, Oregon athletic apparel maker intends to implement several initiatives by 2011, including reducing environmental waste, improving work conditions for its employees, and contributing $315 million to community-based youth sports programs.
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This Week in Citizen Joe (6/18/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   
The Senate continues piecing through a package of energy measures (S 1419), this week debating amendments on how high to hike minimum car mileage standards, whether or not to make 15% of electricity come from renewable energy by 2020 and if the feds should give loan guarantees for coal-to-liquid plants. Also slated to return to the floor - after a week of hard press politicking and negotiations - is the immigration reform bill that got derailed two weeks ago; senators plan on voting on 22 amendments before, some hope, bringing the bill to a final vote. Somehow, a bill, HR 800, that'd make it easier for unions to form could also squeeze into the Senate's agenda this week.

 

The House continues its drive to clean up all its budget bills by Independence Day, this week possibly voting on Energy & Water, Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations spending bills.

 
Sustainability to Drive Innovation
Written by Mark Bershatsky   
So far, The Panelist has hit home on a few of the underlying benefits of exhibiting sustainability within the private sector, as well as shown how select corporations have taken the lead in raising the bar. 

Successfully integrating sustainability practices within a company's business practices can simultaneously increase revenue and reduce operating costs, hence increasing the bottom line. But can sustainability actually be used as a crutch to spur innovation? From the bottom up, can a company base its own business model on promoting sustainability?

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Summary of Thomas L. Friedman's “The Power of Green”
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Written by Michelle Haimoff   

Since the New York Times charges for information, I've summarized Friedman's article here:

I) Introduction: “Green is the new red, white and blue.” As his readers might have come to expect, most of the article reads like a State of the Union address.
 
II)
a. 
   The price of oil needs to go down because “the price of oil and the pace of freedom are inversely correlated.” When oil prices are high, anti-democratic regimes become richer and more powerful, terrorists get funding and the world is unsafe. When oil prices are low, the “petroauthoritarian regimes [have] to open themselves to foreign investment and educate and empower their people more in order to earn income.”

b.
    The US military needs to improve its energy efficiency because this will improve its overall efficiency. As an added bonus, if the US military becomes more energy efficient, the rest of the country will follow suit. “Pay attention,” Friedman says, “When the US Army desegregated, the country really desegregated; when the Army goes green, the country could really go green.”

III) Global warming is now seen as a legitimate issue, and as a wealthy country we have the capacity, as well as the responsibility, to address it.

IV) Countries that aren’t wealthy (i.e. - China, India) won’t address global warming. They can’t afford to:

So now we come to the nub of the issue: Green will not go down Main Street America unless it also goes down Main Street China, India and Brazil. And for green to go Main Street in these big developing countries, the prices of clean power alternatives – wind, biofuels, nuclear, solar or coal sequestration – have to fall to the “China price.” The China price is basically the price China pays for coal-fired electricity today because China is not prepared to pay a premium now, and sacrifice growth and stability, just to get rid of the CO2 that comes from burning coal.
V) It is not altruism that will drive green innovation, but free market capitalism. Companies like Wal-Mart and countries like China, that only survive insofar as they deliver cheaply made, mass-produced goods, need to see going green as a way to cut costs and drive profit. Friedman cites Shi Zhengrong of Suntech Power as an example. Suntech is a Chinese silicon solar panel manufacturer, and Zhengrong is constantly trying to reduce costs and prices. “If it takes off,” Friedman points out, “China could do for solar panels what it did for tennis shoes – bring the price down so far that everyone can afford a pair.”   

VI) The government needs to get involved too. Unlike technology like a cell phone, which is lighter and more convenient than a ground phone, energy does not become a more desirable type of product when it is powered by solar instead of coal. Thus the consumer needs external incentives:

Government can do this by imposing steadily rising efficiency standards for buildings and appliances and by stipulating that utilities generate a certain amount of electricity from renewables – like wind and solar. Or it can impose steadily rising mileage standards for cars or a steadily tightening cap-and-trade system for the amount of CO2 any factory or power plant can emit. Or it can offer loan guarantees and fast track licensing for anyone who wants to build a nuclear plant. Or – my preference and the simplest option – it can impose a carbon tax that will stimulate the market to move away from fuels that emit high levels of CO2 and invest in those that don’t.

Friedman points out that local politicians, such as governors, are leading the way on this charge.

VII) Conclusion: Green is downright patriotic. It plays to America’s strengths (intelligent labor), instead of its weaknesses (cheap labor). Also, environmental leadership might revive our international reputation after the whole Iraq debacle. And remember, green is not about sacrifice, it’s about opportunity. We could be “the Greenest Generation” yet.
 
This Week in Citizen Joe (6/11/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   
Still smarting over its immigration reform bruises, a defeated Senate returns this week to weigh in on a "no confidence" vote on Attorney General Gonzales (expected to fall short) and then begin considering a flotilla of energy bills.

The House gets busy with the budget, voting on four spending bills for '08 - Homeland Security, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water and Interior-Environment.

The House may also vote to stiffen its ethics oversight rules, giving outside groups a way to file ethics complaints on reps.
 
Plastic Goldmine Floating In the North Pacific
Written by David Neubert   
We, at The Panelist, invite you to help us figure out how to make money off this huge glob of floating plastic in the doldrums north of Hawaii.
 
This Week in Citizen Joe (6/4/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   
The Senate continues to jump through political hoops and dodge amendment bullets as it debates and aims to bring home the broadest immigration reform package voted on in decades. The bill (S 1348) - which would set up a guest worker plan, give current illegals a path to citizenship, tighten the border, create a national employee data base (going after employers who don't check it), and switch up who gets green card first dibs - has something in it for everyone to hate, which recommends the bill equally for survival as it does defeat. If a bill is okayed, its next stop will be the House.

The House, meanwhile, will have a far easier time passing a bill that'd open up stem cell research to new cell lines - but the bill, which already has the Senate’s approval (S 5), is almost certain to get nixed by a presidential veto.

 
If You Can't Beat 'Em, Show 'Em
Written by Taeho Lim   
Anyone who's followed the automotive industry the last couple months knows how Toyota (TM - $120.00) has ascended to the top spot in global sales, climbing past the Big 3 in the process. In response, GM (GM - $30.49) decided to take a more creative approach to marketing: if you can't beat 'em, show 'em.
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Al Gore's Latest on Global Warming
Written by Michelle Haimoff   
In his interview with Charlie Rose last night, Al Gore mentioned that the Scripps Institute has released new evidence proving that increases in global warming pollution are now coming at an accelerated rate. Gore said that scientists are yelling but the government isn't listening and "the habitability of the planet is at risk."

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This Week in Citizen Joe (5/21/2007)
Written by ThePanelist   
Congress may be burning the Memorial weekend oil as it aims to pass a war funding bill and immigration reform - along with other legislative tidbits - before taking off for vacation at the end of the week.

After the president nixed an earlier funding bill (to tide the wars over until October 1) that set benchmarks for progress in Iraq and timelines for troop withdrawal, Congress is seeing if it can pass a bill that keeps some benchmarks and that can make it past a presidential veto.

The Senate, meanwhile, dives into debate on a massive immigration reform bill. Cobbled together last week by a bipartisan group of senators and covering border security, employee verification, a guest worker plan, new family immigration rules and a path for illegals to get legit, the bill's chances of survival are shaky at best.

The House turns to wrap up lobbying reform, voting on bills that force lobbyists to disclose more of their biz including, maybe, when they "bundle" together donations for lawmakers working on their causes.

Also left over from the House's plate last week is a bill (HR 1427) that would tighten the reins on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two quasi-governmental companies that back home mortgages - and that, some say, are skating on thin financial ice.

 
Chart of Lehman Brothers
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Written by David Neubert   
Working on why Lehman has been lagging other financial stocks lately. People are too afraid of sub-prime? They seem to forget that Lehman is a huge beneficiary of Private Equity boom? Is there a big overhang of insiders with stock?
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European ETFs Based on Credit Derivatives in the Works
Written by David Neubert   
It was just a matter of time, I suppose.  I'm having trouble understanding the difference between these iTraxx ETF's issued by DeutscheBank and a portfolio of bonds. 
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Cerberus Buys Chrysler
Written by Taeho Lim   
A few days ago, I reported that Canadian auto parts maker Magna International took a definitive step toward buying Chrysler by selling $1.54 billion worth of voting shares to Russian Machines. Well, it turns out that New York-based Cerberus Capital Management emerged from the woodwork and won the bidding war with a $7.4 billion commitment to Daimler and Chrysler. Cerberus will pay $6.05 billion to privatize Chrysler and dole out another $1.35 billion to Daimler (DCX - 86.68). The deal easily eclipses the $4.7 billion offered by Magna (MGA - 80.89) and marks the first time a private equity firm has ever taken over a member of the Big 3.
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Wiser: World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility
Written by Michelle Haimoff   
WISER (World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility) is a global networking site for individuals and organizations involved in addressing social and environmental issues.

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From Russia with Love
Written by Taeho Lim   
From Russia with Love
Photo: pingnews, Creative Commons, Flickr


With Chrysler Group losing $1.5 billion in 2006, DaimlerChrysler (DCX - 82.00) spent the last several months shopping its dangling domestic appendage to anyone willing to take the flagging subsidiary off its hands. While several firms have answered the bell, Canadian auto parts maker Magna International (MGA - 83.92) stepped to the forefront after selling off $1.54 billion worth of its voting shares to Oleg Deripaska and his holding company Russian Machines. Analysts tell us that the transaction opens the door for Magna's expansion into the burgeoning Russian auto market and sets the stage for a $4.7 billion offer to buy 50% of Chrysler. If the deal goes through, Daimler will retain 10% of Chrysler while Magna and Canadian investment firm Onyx will pick up the rest.

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This Week in Citizen Joe (5/14/2007)
Written by Citizen Joe   
It's a make-or-break week for monumental, historic immigration reform. What exactly that reform looks like we can't tell you - Dem and GOP senators are still patching together a bill to can win over support from both sides of the aisles - but it's likely to offer a road to legit status for today's illegals as well as guestworker plan (that may or may not offer a path to permanent status). It could also shift family immigration policy, giving automatic entree to spouses and non-adult children alone.
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Citi Delivers but RAN is Unimpressed
Written by Michelle Haimoff   
CitiGroup LogoThe world's leading financial institution, Citigroup (C - $53.20), announced that it is going to direct $50 billion over the next 10 years to address global warming issues.
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This Week in Citizen Joe (5/7/2007)
Written by Citizen Joe   
Congress takes a breather from its Iraq battles and turns its attention to fiscal year '08 this week, hopefully tying up a $2.9 trillion budget resolution - a blueprint that's used by spending committees to guide their final budgets.

The Senate continues to debate FDA authorization bill (S 1082 ), this week voting on an amendment to okay the reimportation of prescription drugs. It may also find the time to approve $5.5 billion in water works projects for the next five years (S 1248).

The House is slated to pass its homeland security and intelligence authorization bills (HR 1684 & HR 2082).

Photo: billypalooza, Creative Commons, Flickr
 
Investing in Adaptable Companies
Written by Casson Rosenblatt   
As an individual interested in investing her money wisely and consciously, it is often hard to know exactly what to do. Particularly if you are not flush with cash. Many people choose socially screened mutual funds or socially screened index funds, but what if you want to make an investment in a single company you feel is helping shape the world? How does one choose the right home for one's hard-earned cash?
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