A few years ago a sugar refinery owned by Imperial Sugar of Savannah, Georgia, exploded. Fifteen people were killed and dozens were injured, some severely. The explosion was the direct result of a corporate refusal to obey safety rules designed to avoid just this kind of event. OSHA, over a single 2-year period, hit Imperial Sugar with over 200 Notices of Violation. Corporate management ignored them. After all, we all know OSHA is just a busybody nitpicker that gives corporations a hard time for no reason. They know what they’re doing. They don’t have to listen to some liberal government pinhead whine about how they should have done this irrelevant action instead of that one.
That’s how – and why – 15 people died.
There have been a raft of “investigations”, including one by the district USA Edward Tarver into potential criminal charges. Given the abundant evidence of malfeasance on the part of corporate executives, this should have been a slam dunk. It turned out, though, that corporations can get away with anything in 21st century America, including murder.
The company was the target of investigations by a trio of federal agencies — the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, OSHA and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms — that resulted in findings of dozens of “willful” safety violations and a $6 million fine in 2010 that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said was the largest ever levied to that point.
Only one potential government sanction remained and that was removed Tuesday when U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver announced his office would not seek criminal charges against the company or its executives for the carnage that ensued that night.
“There was insufficient evidence of intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of OSHA’s general housekeeping standards to charge Imperial Sugar with a criminal violation,” Tarver said in a release.
How he reached that conclusion despite the acres of evidence and a whistleblower to the contrary may be explained in the usual way – protection of a local corporate power (and donor?) – but Tarver offers what sounds like a potentially honest alternative reason: the weakness of Congressionally devised labor laws.
Tarver also said the decision not to pursue a prosecution of Imperial or any of its executives was based in the lack of federal criminal laws “specifically addressed to the safety of workers within the sugar industry at the time of the Imperial Sugar explosion.”
It’s an interesting argument though it smacks immediately of buck-passing. It could be true given what conservative governments – Pubs and Dems both – have happily done to de-ball labor laws for the last 40 years. Anybody know?
True or not, the one thing that stands out is that, just like with the bankers who deliberately destroyed our economy to fill their own pockets and did so by breaking so many laws it would take an abacus to count them, after all Imperial’s illegal activities and the 15 people who died as a direct result of their disinterest in keeping them alive, nobody is going to go to jail behind this.
People aren’t used to thinking of the Papacy as political but like most things people aren’t used to thinking this is truer than whatever they do think. The Papacy has been political practically since its inception, and this is one of the most political pontiffs we’ve had in recent generations, which is why the total lack of speculation about the real reason for his “retirement” is just one more sign that even our “best” journalists have become incurious and thus singularly inept. Their acceptance of an excuse so weak they’d see through it in a school board election without the consideration of a single subtler possible agenda.
OK, so you probably think that at least if you’re a dedicated cheerleader they won’t throw you under the bus even if you’re not their first priority. But you’re being naive.
Regardless of who wins the presidential election in November or what compromises Congress strikes in the lame-duck session to keep the economy from automatic tax increases and spending cuts, 160 million American wage earners will probably see their tax bills jump after Jan. 1.
That is when the temporary payroll tax holiday ends. Its expiration means less income in families’ pocketbooks — the tax increase would be about $95 billion in 2013 alone — at a time when the economy is little better than it was when the White House reached a deal on the tax break last year.
You don’t matter. The “deficit” they created matters. It’s your job to pay it off. This was never a priority, it was just a temporary gimme for show.
Independent analysts say that the expiration of the tax cut could shave as much as a percentage point off economic output in 2013, and cost the economy as many as one million jobs. That is because the typical American family had $1,000 in additional income from the lower tax.
But there is still little desire to make an extension part of the negotiations that are under way to avert the huge tax increases and across-the-board spending cuts, known as the fiscal cliff, that will start in January without a deal.
Nope. Nobody on either side gives a shit.
Many Republicans vehemently opposed its passage last year, as it would divert money from the Social Security program. Many Democrats fervently supported it last year but show no such enthusiasm now. Nancy Pelosi of California, the top House Democrat, has told reporters she thinks it should expire.
So don’t ever get your hopes up. No matter what happens, you’re never gonna be on anybody’s gift list.
If you are a normal human with normal instincts and a reasonably normal sense of humor, the kinds of things conservatives laugh at are liable to stump you at best, appall you at worst.
Video emerged on Tuesday showing supporters of Senator Scott P. Brown making tomahawk gestures with their arms and yelling Indian war whoops at supporters of Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic challenger, outside a pub on Saturday. The gestures were meant to mock Ms. Warren’s assertions, for which she has offered no documentation, that she has Native American ancestry.
Conservatives think making fun of one’s heritage is funny – as long as it isn’t their heritage. Also, fat people are funny, and invading countries because they’re supposed to have weapons they don’t actually have, that’s funny, stuff like that. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the easiest adjustments to make as we re-work our psyches to fit the pre- and misconceptions of the New American Oligarchy is the one where we have to re-write history. This has become such a common tactic of the corporate media that it almost goes without saying but it can still come as a surprise when you’re not expecting it.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his party maintain that Washington policy plays a limited role in entrepreneurial success, and is often more of a hindrance than a help.
In pushing that theme this week, though, some of the speakers have left out part of the story.
In a convention floor speech Tuesday night, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin boasted that people rushed into her state in the Great Land Run of 1889 with only their own grit to thank, and no help from the federal government.
“And in 1897, eight years after the land run, a handful of adventurous pioneers risked their own money – not the federal government’s money – to drill Oklahoma’s first oil well, the Nellie Johnstone,” she told conventioneers.
However, Fallin’s characterization omitted major chunks of federal government involvement, including the Dawes Act of 1887 and other measures that forced Indian tribes onto reservations, freeing “open” surplus lands for white settlers. Oil later was found on some of that land. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided the method by which the land was distributed to settlers.
This is known as “history by omission”: not actually a lie, all you need do is leave out the part of the truth you’d rather people didn’t know. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most challenging aspects of adjusting to the NAO’s is the fact that so many of them are, well, stupid. Todd Akin’s absurd belief that women have some sort of magical control over their bodies if only they’d decide to use it is just the tip of a very large, annoying, and dangerous iceberg. The Times’ Timothy Egan gives a chapter and verse or two that barely scratch the surface but make the point quite clearly: many of the most powerful people in the country, all of them major puppets of the oligarchs, have demonstrated again and again that they have great faith but zero actual knowledge. Read the rest of this entry »
Two hundred-plus years of dangerously liberal thinking have created a good deal of confusion in some weak minds. One of the most damaging of these confusions, one that you may still be harboring without realizing its deep and divisive nature, is the idea that there are such things as “public” facilities. Or, indeed, a “public good”. In fact, the very word “public” arises from a severe misunderstanding of what forms a “society”. Read the rest of this entry »