DOJ Mysteriously Quits Monsanto Antitrust Investigation. Just a handful of companies control the US seed market.
Stevie Rocco/Flickr There's an age-old tradition in Washington of making unpopular announcements when no one's listening—like, you know, the days leading up to Thanksgiving. That's when the Obama administration sneaked a tasty dish to the genetically modified seed/pesticide industry. This treat involves the unceremonious end of the Department of Justice's antitrust investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the US seed market, which it had begun in January 2010. It's not hard to see why DOJ would take a look. What's harder to figure out is why the DOJ ended the investigation without taking any action—and did so with a near-complete lack of public information.
A DOJ spokesperson confirmed to me that the agency had "closed its investigation into possible anticompetitive practices in the seed industry," but would divulge no details. Getting market share data for an industry like seeds is a maddening task. Free Banking » The Fed Wants Secrecy and the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Gives It To Them. “I personally have always been a big believer in providing as much information as you can to help the public understand what you’re doing, to help the markets understand what you’re doing, and to be accountable to the public for what you’re doing.”
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Press Conference, April 27, 2011. Bhwahaha! One of the most attractive features of a free banking environment would be in reducing the power of a secretive government agency. There is a good reason that one of the most well-known books on the Federal Reserve was given the name Secrets of the Temple. I have some personal experience with this issue and that all came to a head this past week in my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case as reported by Dow Jones Newswire (3 June 2011): A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System doesn't have to release records stemming from the 2008 rescue of Bear Stearns.
The U.S. See the court’s full opinion. Samantha L. Clarence Thomas Fails to Disclose Citizens United In-Kind Contributions. Will Clarence Thomas Recuse Himself on Health Care Reform? James Berglie/Zuma Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife's income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama's health care reform law.
His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central's president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started. The disclosure was apparently prompted in part by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had been needling Thomas (including on Twitter) for months to disclose how much money his wife earned from Liberty Central. But, up until now, Thomas had not revealed how much money his wife made from her controversial Liberty Central work. Justices Scalia And Thomas's Attendance At Koch Event Sparks Judicial Ethics Debate. Reports that two Supreme Court Justices have attended seminars sponsored by the energy giant and conservative bankroller Koch Industries has sparked a mild debate over judicial ethics.
On Tuesday evening, the New York Times reported that an upcoming meeting in Palm Springs of "a secretive network of Republican donors" that was being organized by Koch Industries, "the longtime underwriter of libertarian causes. " Buried in the third to last graph was a note that previous guests at such meetings included Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, two of the more conservative members of the bench. It's not rare for a Justice to attend a seminar sponsored by a group with judicial or political interests. Members of the court, for instances, often speak at academic institutions or think tanks. Virtually all companies, meanwhile, are affected by the judicial branch. But the Koch event appears more political than, say, the Aspen Ideas festival.