Archive for deaths

GM's Mary Barra Fires Employees But Spares Herself



Doesn't it seem to always be the case when there's a corporate problem, the first thing the bosses do is point fingers? The toppers never want to take responsibility themselves. It was some low-ranking employees and the CEO was left out in the dark. Somewhere along the line, after they've fired those who were directly hands on, the light starts to reflect back at them. Then there's very few places they can hide.

Well today, the lights at General Motors were shined on 20 key employees, 15 of whom were fired and 5 who were reprimanded over the company’s failure to disclose a defect with ignition switches that is now linked to at least 13 deaths.

This all stems back to 2001 and has continued up until recently -- both in General Motors lethal inactivity in responding to an issue they were totally aware of as well as their attempts to sweep this deadly flaw under the carpet.

Washington Post today reports:

Mary Barra jpeg

“I hate sharing this with you just as much as you hate hearing it,” [General Motor's CEO] Barra told employees in a town hall meeting at GM’s suburban Detroit technical center. “But I want you to hear it. I want you to remember it. I want you to never forget it.” Barra promised to “fix the failures in our system.”

Does Barra really mean what she's saying? Consider this, she's not among the 20 people singled out for firing or discipline.

Why should she be? Because a quick look at her employment at GM. She started working for General Motors at the age of 18 in 1980 and subsequently held a variety of engineering and administrative positions, including being manager of the Detroit/Hamtramck Assembly. Is she trying to say she had no idea what was going on? I suppose it's possible, but...

From General Motors website:

Prior to her current position, Barra served as Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing Supply Chain since August 2013, and as Senior Vice President, Global Product Development since February 2011. In these roles, she was responsible for the design, engineering, program management and quality of GM vehicles around the world.

Previously, Barra served as GM Vice President, Global Human Resources; Vice President, Global Manufacturing Engineering; Plant Manager, Detroit Hamtramck Assembly; Executive Director of Competitive Operations Engineering; and in several engineering and staff positions.

Hello. The ignition catastrophe was an engineering design problem. That falls right under Barra's purview which brings us all back to the beginning. Finger pointing and assigning blame when it's really the guilty who should be taking the fall. I don't think Barra directly was responsible for the design flaw. But was she aware of it if these other 20 people were? Apply some simple logic here and decide for yourself-- in this case, did a guilty co-conspirator get promoted in order to put out the fire?


VIDEO: TX Gov. Rick Perry demands apology over cartoon depicting his disregard for worker safety


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The Sacramento Bee is standing by a political cartoon about Rick Perry and the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, noting that it was commentary on "Perry's disregard for worker safety, not an attempt to disrespect the victims." That seems pretty obvious to anyone who harbors no guilt feelings about their position on deregulation.

Maybe Rick Perry should watch the episodes of "All In with Chris Hayes" in which he reveals that the last safety “inspection of the West fertilizer plant happened in– 1985” and exposes Dick Cheney’s son-in-law who de-regulated the chemical industry. Nobody can seriously suggest that Rick Perry would have insisted on more oversight. Au contraire.

In fact, Gov. Ricky says more inspections weren't needed:

He said that he remains comfortable with the state’s level of oversight and suggested that most Texas residents agree with him.

Under the circumstances, it appears that Jack Ohman's cartoon was political commentary based on obvious facts and the truth. And the truth hurts, right Ricky?

Here is an excerpt from Perry's letter to the Sacramento Bee:

It was with extreme disgust and disappointment I viewed your recent cartoon. While I will always welcome healthy policy debate, I won't stand for someone mocking the tragic deaths of my fellow Texans and our fellow Americans... The Bee owes the community of West, Texas an immediate apology for your detestable attempt at satire.

It would be more accurate and truthful to say that it is Rick Perry who owes SacBee and Ohman an apology.

Here is an excerpt from the response from the editorial page editor for the Bee:

What he finds offensive is a governor who would gamble with the lives of families by not pushing for the strongest safety regulations. Perry's letter is an attempt to distract people from that message.

Here is the cartoon in question (which you can also see in the video), and here is Ohman's blog about the matter.


VIDEO-- "All in with Chris Hayes": Dick Cheney's son-in-law de-regulated chemical industry


Bush deregulator

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cheney son in law epa chemical plants

Chris Hayes has been all over the West, Texas explosion and the egregious lack of oversight. The last safety “inspection of the West fertilizer plant happened in– 1985.”


Two Bush administration officials, Christine Todd Whitman, who was head of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Tom Ridge, who was head of Homeland Security, came up with a plan to deal with the vulnerability. Whitman believed the EPA was already empowered to expand her agency's oversight of chemical plants under a section of the Clean Air Act, and she and Ridge worked out a deal to do so.

That is until the son-in-law of former vice president dick Cheney walked into the room, a guy by the name of Phillip Perry, who was at the time the general counsel of the White House Office of Management and Budget.  And he made it clear the Bush administration was not going to support granting regulatory authority over chemical security to the EPA.

Basically, the Bush administration, from above, pulled support for that bill because the chemical industry did not want to be regulated by the EPA.

Fast forward a few years to 2007, and Phil Perry, again dick Cheney's son-in-law, is now over at the Department of Homeland Security as the department's general counsel.

And what he manages to do in an uncontroversial bill, an appropriations rider, is slip in industry friendly language into the bill that moves the task of regulating chemical plants from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Homeland Security. But-- DHS is given none of the tools it would need to actually do that.

So let's recap. The Bush administration's own cabinet secretaries come up with plan to regulate these chemical plants. It is stymied by Phil Perry once. The Bush administration sides with the chemical industry when it's brought before the Congress and then basically in a back room maneuver, Perry does the chemical agency's bidding by moving the oversight of this from the EPA, which the chemical industry hates, to DHS, which the chemical industry thinks they can more easily manipulate.

Now, go ahead to six years. The West Fertilizer Company is storing more than 1300 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by DHS.

It does appear now not only did DHS literally have no idea that the West Fertilizer Company was storing ammonium nitrate, but according to Congresswoman Betty Thompson, a democrat from Mississippi, DHS did not know the plant existed until it blew up.

Now, here's what makes this incredible. In 2006, when a bill was introduced in the Senate to make chemical plants safer, a bill that was blocked by Republicans, the young Senator who introduced that bill was this man:

obama 2008 chemical plant regulation


When It Comes to Killing in the Name of Religion and Nationhood, Christians Hold the Modern Record

 Via Juan Cole

Via Juan Cole

Via Tim Wise's Terrorism and Privilege: Understanding the Power of Whiteness:

White privilege is knowing that if the bomber turns out to be white, he or she will be viewed as an exception to an otherwise non-white rule, an aberration, an anomaly, and that he or she will be able to join the ranks of pantheon of white people who engage in (or have plotted) politically motivated violence meant to terrorize — and specifically to kill — but whose actions result in the assumption of absolutely nothing about white people generally, or white Christians in particular.

Among these: Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols and Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph and Joe Stack and George Metesky and Byron De La Beckwith and Bobby Frank Cherry and Thomas Blanton and Herman Frank Cash and Robert Chambliss and James von Brunn and Lawrence Michael Lombardi and Robert Mathews and David Lane and Chevie Kehoe and Michael F. Griffin and Paul Hill and John Salvi and Justin Carl Moose and Bruce and Joshua Turnidge and James Kopp and Luke Helder and James David Adkisson and Scott Roeder and Shelley Shannon and Dennis Mahon and Wade Michael Page and Jeffery Harbin and Byron Williams and Charles Ray Polk and Willie Ray Lampley and Cecilia Lampley and John Dare Baird and Joseph Martin Bailie and Ray Hamblin and Robert Edward Starr III and William James McCranie Jr. and John Pitner and Charles Barbee and Robert Berry and Jay Merrell and Brendon Blasz and Carl Jay Waskom Jr. and Shawn and Catherine Adams and Edward Taylor Jr. and Todd Vanbiber and William Robert Goehler and James Cleaver and Jack Dowell and Bradley Playford Glover and Ken Carter and Randy Graham and Bradford Metcalf and Chris Scott Gilliam and Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder and Buford Furrow and Benjamin Smith and Donald Rudolph and Kevin Ray Patterson and Charles Dennis Kiles and Donald Beauregard and Troy Diver and Mark Wayne McCool and Leo Felton and Erica Chase and Clayton Lee Wagner and Michael Edward Smith and David Burgert and Robert Barefoot Jr. and Sean Gillespie and Ivan Duane Braden and Kevin Harpham and William Krar and Judith Bruey and Edward Feltus and Raymond Kirk Dillard and Adam Lynn Cunningham and Bonnell Hughes and Randall Garrett Cole and James Ray McElroy and Michael Gorbey and Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman and Frederick Thomas and Paul Ross Evans and Matt Goldsby and Jimmy Simmons and Kathy Simmons and Kaye Wiggins and Patricia Hughes and Jeremy Dunahoe and David McMenemy and Bobby Joe Rogers and Francis Grady and Cody Seth Crawford and Ralph Lang and Demetrius Van Crocker and Floyd Raymond Looker and Derek Mathew Shrout and Randolph Linn.

Ya know, just to name a few.

And now your Daily Dose of BuzzFlash at Truthout, via my pal Mark Karlin:

[T]he insightful Juan Cole puts into perspective that most followers of Islam are peaceful people.  The Jihadists and their networks compose a small percentage of believers in the Islamic faith. [...]

Many Americans will react with dismay that Cole is setting the record straight.  But it is vital to point out that he condemns terrorism and war for empire of any sort.  He is simply pointing out that to think that Christianity and Christian nations are more virtuous and less blood thirsty than followers of Islam is statistically incorrect.  As Cole concludes...

Terrorism is a tactic of extremists within each religion, and within secular religions of Marxism or nationalism. No religion, including Islam, preaches indiscriminate violence against innocents.

It takes a peculiar sort of blindness to see Christians of European heritage as “nice” and Muslims and inherently violent, given the twentieth century death toll I mentioned above. [...]

Nothing can further exemplify the deep roots of a Christian need to force others to accept Jesus Christ as saviors than the gory, bloody rampage of the Crusades, which over years left countless "infidels" slain.  Or one can look at the inquisition where non-believers in Christ were tortured and executed. [...]

No, there are no excuses or sympathy to be expressed for the Tsarnaev brothers... Public acts of terrorism are gruesome, terrifying and heart-wrenching; but so are many acts of war in the name of nationhood, ethnic identity, religion -- often all of these together.

But rather than proceed on another post 9/11 government and FOX/Limbaugh decade of Islamophobia, we need to look into our own religious and national identities to find pathways toward peace with all religions. [...]

[W]e must also look inside ourselves and recognize that killing under the flag of any religion, nation or tribal identity is abhorrent  – whether it be the Tsarnaev brothers or wars for religion, tribal identity (including nationhood) or empire.

Please read the entire post here.


Fracking could lead to demand for more potentially explosive ammonia factories


what the frack sign Via The

So much madness, so little time.

The last safety “inspection of the West fertilizer plant happened in– 1985.” Because, you know, fertilizer components aren't flammable and dangerous and don't require any regulation whatsoever. Nor are ingredients such as ammonium nitrate ever used in, say, domestic terrorist attacks like, oh I dunno, the Oklahoma City bombing.

Nor do they ever explode.

Nor do they pollute the air with noxious fumes when they never explode.

Nor do those explosions that never happen ever kill people.

So, of course, no forward-looking country with clear-thinking leaders would ever consider exposing its citizens to even more noxious ammonia factories. Nor would they encourage any powerful corporations to engage in any undertakings that would rely on chemicals that could easily pollute and ignite the way the plant in West, Texas did.


The U.S. could soon be home to a lot more ammonia factories — not a comforting thought after a deadly explosion at an ammonia fertilizer plant in Texas on Wednesday evening. You can blame the fracking boom. [...]

Australian company Incitec Pivot this week announced [PDF] that it will be building a hulking new $850 million ammonia facility in Waggaman, La., just outside New Orleans. [...]

U.S.-based Mosaic announced in December that it may build a $700 million ammonia plant in St. James Parish, La. U.S.-based CHS Inc. said in September that it would construct a $1.2 billion ammonia plant in North Dakota. Also in September, Egypt’s largest company, Orascom Construction, said it would spend $1.4 billion to build a fertilizer plant in Iowa.

Well, erm, okay, but surely ammonia production has a good safety record overall, and the Texas disaster was just an anomaly. Right?

The history of ammonia production and storage is littered with spectacular accidents.

Oh, and there's this:

The Dallas Morning News reports that the Texas fertilizer plant that exploded Wednesday night told the Environmental Protection Agency and local public safety officials that it presented "no risk of fire or explosion."

They lied to the EPA and were not in compliance with EPA regulations (EPA regulations do not allow felony violations of 18 USC 1001). If the company was in compliance with EPA regulations, then the 540,000 lbs of the explosive ammonium nitrate, stored at the facility, would not have blown up.

"The EPA said the company corrected the deficiencies and filed an updated plan in 2011. It said it now complies with EPA regulations."

Now think about all those impending new ammonia facilities. What could possibly go wrong?

All our posts on the environmental rapes perpetrated by frackers can be found here (scroll).

forward off cliff


VIDEO: The last safety "inspection of the West fertilizer plant happened in-- 1985."


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Chris Hayes:

Records from the Federal Occupational Safety Administration shows the last agency's inspection of the West Fertilizer plant happened in-- 1985. For a few violations OSHA considered serious, the company was fined, wait for it. $30.

If twenty-eight years seems like a very long time between OSHA inspections for an inherently risky workplace, keep this in mind: According to the New York Times, while the number of inspectors has grown under the Obama administration, OSHA still just has 2400 responsible for overseeing roughly 8 million work sites. Roughly one inspector per 60,000 workers, a ratio that hasn't changed since 1970...

We talked last night about fatalities from terrorism and gun deaths. There's a category we didn't mention, which is workplace fatalities. From 2000-2010  3,033 Americans died from terror attacks. During that same time. 335,000 Americans died from the hands of a gun while there were over 60,000 workplace deaths.

Then Rachel Maddow covered it this way:

fertilizer explosion texas

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VIDEO-- Democratic Ga. Mayor Kasim Reed: "Both President Bush and President Obama have kept this country safe."


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Democratic Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, Kasim Reed, who needs to check his facts:

"Both President Bush and President Obama have kept this country safe."

Did anyone feel safe on September 11, 2001? Me neither.

Let's ask the thousands who were killed that day if they felt safe. Oh that's right. We can't.

How about all those embassy attacks on Bush's watch?

Did the families and friends of our troops feel safe during the fraudulent war in Iraq that BushCo lied us into?

Did America feel safe opening their mail after the anthrax attacks?

How safe did we feel when Bush, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of their little gang used fear tactic after fear tactic to scare an entire country into submission? Shock Doctrine, anyone?

Did their use of torture (an illegal practice that doesn't work) soothe you to sleep at night?

Come to think of it, did any of us feel safe and secure when so many people lost their jobs after BushCo started a major recession?

Just asking.

waterboarding torture keeping America safe

Here is the entire segment:

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