What happened to the outrage?

Updated: Friday, April 11, 2014
What happened to the outrage? story image
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - The world is still waiting for the internal report to put the finger on just why it took General Motors up to ten years to issue a recall for 2.5 million cars that may have fatally faulty ignition switches.

It's a problem the world's largest automaker more or less now concedes is to blame for at least 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

But for 10 years, GM simply sat on the problem.

Tonight in Tom's Corner, our Tom Van Howe wonders what in the world has happened to outrage.

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Maybe we're just numb. But the last century was replete with people standing up and shouting about what they thought was wrong, unjust, unfair, and demanding action.

But not so much anymore. The voices of outrage have turned into whispers.

Maybe its because the new century began with the war in Iraq--as completely misguided vengeance for the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

We were told by experts there were no weapons of mass destruction there, and there weren't. The 9/11 hijackers were Saudi Arabian...not Iraqi.

If one objected, that person was unpatriotic.

Then Afghanistan. Death, destruction, and torture--something we believed we didn't do.

Now we know that we did. Enthusiastically.

Then came the drones, raining death on both terrorists and wedding parties. We worry they'll be used on us to watch, listen, and record.

And why not worry? Credit the fugitive whistle-blower Edward Snowden for tipping us off on the incredible reach of the national security agency.

We live in a world where almost nothing is private.

We endlessly debate immigration reform in a Congress that accomplishes almost nothing. Its no wonder Congress has an approval rating of about 10 percent.

Meantime we're breaking up families on a daily basis--deporting record numbers of people back to Mexico.

We continue extolling our right to bear arms while gun violence continues haunting the streets of our cities.

We don't vote much anymore. In off-year elections roughly 15 percent of us make decisions for all the rest.

Big money is completely taking over the battle for free and equal speech. Its no longer free nor equal.

Wall street continues unregulated.  And while the way we pay for healthcare has people on the right apoplectic, no one talks much about the high-and-still-soaring cost of healthcare.

So maybe its just domestic battle fatigue that has people shrugging their shoulders about the way General Motors shirked a life-and-death responsibility for a full decade.

Executives in Detroit knew back in 2004 there was an ignition switch problem in Chevy Cobalts and HHR's, and in Pontiac G7s, Pursuits, and Solstices, and Saturn Ions and Skys.

They knew before and after their bankruptcy and the ensuing bailout that if the switches were jarred or if the key had too heavy a ring on it, it could malfunction and turn off the engine--leaving the driver without air brakes, power steering, or operable airbags.

Result? A documented 31 crashes and 13 deaths.

Consumer Reports says there have been more than 300 deaths in GM cars with undeployed air bags.

And none of it should have happened. None of it.
 
This is a company kept alive by the American people who in return were given a hand gesture.

Has it made me angry? Absolutely. I feel as though I've been had. Trouble is, I don't know what to do with my anger.

Ever since the Supreme Court said corporations are people too, its taken the wind out of my sails.

I want to shout at somebody. I want to punch somebody.

But neither option seems very effective against one of the largest corporations. And how do you punch a corporation anyway?

Maybe if I ignore it...it'll all just go away.

In this corner, I'm Tom Van Howe.

Business News

Last Update on October 23, 2014 17:21 GMT

The price of crude oil rose $1.27 to $81.80 a barrel in New York.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Earnings gains from General Motors, 3M and other big companies are driving stocks sharply higher in early trading.

GM rose 2 percent after reporting that its third-quarter profit doubled thanks to big earnings from SUV and truck sales.

Caterpillar, 3M and Southwest Airlines also gained after reporting earnings that pleased investors. AT&T lost 2 percent after its results fell short of analysts' forecasts.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 19 points, or 1 percent, to 1,946 as of 9:35 a.m. Eastern time Thursday.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 200 points, or 1.2 percent, to 16,659. The Nasdaq composite rose 41 points, or 1 percent, to 4,424.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 2.26 percent.

UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of people applying for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week after falling to a 14-year low the previous week. Despite the increase, weekly applications remain at historically low levels that suggest hiring is gaining steam.

The Labor Department says applications rose 17,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 283,000. That is the sixth straight week below 300,000. Applications have fallen 19 percent in the past year.

The four-week average, a less volatile measure, declined 3,000 to 281,000, the lowest in 14 years. As a percentage of the working population, applications are near their lowest levels since the early 1970s.

Applications are a proxy for layoffs. Their unusually low level suggests that employers are confident enough to hold onto workers and may step up hiring.

LEADING INDICATORS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gauge designed to predict the economy's future health posted a solid increase in September after no gain in the previous month.

The Conference Board says its index of leading indicators rose 0.8 percent last month following a flat reading in August which originally had been reported as a small 0.2 percent gain.

Economists expect that continuing strong gains in employment should boost incomes and help support solid economic growth in the United States in coming quarters despite a weaker outlook overseas.

MORTGAGE RATES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Average U.S. mortgage rates continued to slide this week, raising prospects of a wave of consumers refinancing their loans. The 30-year mortgage fell further below 4 percent.

Mortgage company Freddie Mac says the nationwide average for a 30-year loan declined to 3.92 percent from 3.97 percent last week. The average rate is at its lowest level since June 2013. It was 4.53 percent in January. The average for a 15-year mortgage, a popular choice for people who are refinancing, fell to 3.08 percent from 3.18 percent.

It was the fifth straight week of declines for mortgage rates.

Across the country last week, homeowners and would-be homeowners eager for a bargain rate fired off inquiries to lenders.

EARNS-CATERPILLAR

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Caterpillar's belt tightening paid off in the third quarter as the manufacturer easily beat Wall Street expectations and raised its outlook for the year.

The company has wrestled with a slowing global economy and took a restructuring charge of 9 cents per share during the quarter tied to cost cuts. However, CEO and Chairman Doug Oberhelman said that he is hopeful that economic growth will pick up next year.

Caterpillar, based in Peoria, Illinois, reported third-quarter net income of $1.02 billion, or $1.63 per share, in the three months ending Sept. 30, compared with $951 million, or $1.45 per share, in the same quarter a year ago.

Adjusted to remove restructuring costs, earnings came to $1.72 per share, blowing past Wall Street expectations of $1.33 per share.

Revenue rose slightly to $13.55 billion, also topping the $13.37 billion analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

EARNS-3M

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- Diversified manufacturer 3M's third-quarter net income rose 6 percent on higher revenue across all divisions.

The maker of Post-it notes, industrial coatings and ceramics also narrowed its guidance range.

Net income for the three months ending Sept. 30 after paying preferred dividends totaled $1.3 billion, or $2.02 per share, up from $1.23 billion, or $1.81 per share, last year. Analysts expected $1.96 per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 3 percent to $8.14 billion from $7.92 billion. Analysts expected $8.23 billion. The stronger dollar hurt revenue by about 1 percentage point, the company said.

The St. Paul, Minnesota-based company narrowed its guidance to net income of $7.40 to $7.50 for the year, compared with prior expectations of $7.30 to $7.55. Analysts expected $7.46 per share.

At its industrial unit, which makes auto and aircraft parts, revenue rose 3 percent to $2.8 billion. Revenue from its electronics and energy unit rose nearly 4 percent to $1.5 billion. Safety and graphics revenue rose 1 percent to $1.4 billion and revenue from health care products rose about 5 percent to $1.4 billion. Revenue from consumer products like Scotch tape and Post-its rose 2 percent to $1.2 billion.

EARNS-GENERAL MOTORS

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors says its third-quarter profit nearly doubled as strong earnings in North America and China outweighed struggles in Europe and South America.

The automaker posted a net profit of $1.38 billion, or 81 cents per share, from July through September. A year ago, GM made $698 million, or 45 cents per share.

It was the first quarter this year without significant charges for recalls. GM has issued 75 recalls in 2014 covering more than 30 million vehicles, costing the company more than $2.8 billion.

Without $331 million in one-time items, GM would have made 97 cents per share, exceeding Wall Street's expectations. Analysts polled by FactSet expected 95 cents.

Revenue grew 2 percent to $39.25 billion. That also beat expectations of $38.79 billion.

EARNS-SOUTHWEST AIRLINES

DALLAS (AP) -- More passengers and lower fuel prices are pushing Southwest Airlines to record profits, and the airline expects an even bigger break at the gas pump this winter.

CEO Gary Kelly says the trend toward higher revenue has continued into October, and bookings for November and December look good.

Southwest Airlines Co. said Thursday that net income rose 27 percent to $329 million , or 48 cents per share, in the July-to-September quarter.

Excluding one-time items such as the falling value of some fuel-hedging contracts, the profit would have been 55 cents per share. On that basis, analysts expected 53 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 5.6 percent to $4.80 billion, a tick better than analysts' forecast of $4.79 billion.

The average one-way fare inched higher -- to $160.74, an increase of $1.35 from last summer. Passengers flew 5.6 percent more miles, and planes carried record loads -- the average flight was 84.4 percent full, an increase from 80.8 percent the year before.

Southwest spent $2.94 per gallon on fuel in the third quarter, down from $3.06 a year earlier. And the discount will grow -- the airline predicted that it will pay between $2.70 and $2.75 per gallon in the fourth quarter.

Fuel spending dropped 4.4 percent in the third quarter, but labor costs rose 7.2 percent.

AT&T-BEYOND PHONES

Tablets, cars drive AT&T wireless gains--not phones

NEW YORK (AP) -- AT&T says it gained 2 million wireless subscribers in the latest quarter, but most were from non-phone services such as tablets and Internet-connected cars. The company is facing pricing pressure from smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint in a competitive environment in which most Americans already have a cellphone.

The net increases in the July-September quarter included nearly 1.3 million connected devices, such as home-security systems. Cars made up more than 500,000 of that total. On top of those figures, Dallas-based AT&T added 342,000 tablet customers.

Phones are still a lucrative business for wireless carriers, but the rise of tablets and other devices give wireless carriers additional revenue sources.

COMCAST-RESULTS

NEW YORK (AP) -- Comcast Corp.'s third-quarter net income jumped 50 percent in the third quarter, helped by a hefty tax settlement and more high-speed Internet customers.

The nation's largest cable provider says its net income rose to $2.59 billion, or 99 cents per share. That compares with net income of $1.73 billion, or 65 cents per share, last year. Excluding one-time tax settlement, net income totaled 73 cents per share, beating analyst expectations of 71 cents per share.

Revenue rose 4 percent to $16.79 billion from $16.15 billion last year. Analysts expected $16.8 billion.

Cable hookup revenue rose 5 percent to $11.04 billion, and NBCUniversal revenue rose 1 percent to $5.92 billion.

Comcast is in the midst of a $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable in a deal under regulatory review.

COCA-COLA-PERSONNEL

NEW YORK (AP) -- Coca-Cola is naming a new chief marketing officer as the world's biggest soda maker works to boost flat soda sales.

The Atlanta-based company says Marcos De Quinto, a company veteran, will replace Joe Tripodi starting Jan. 1.

The maker of Powerade, Fanta and Diet Coke this week outlined plans to significantly slash costs after reporting disappointing sales for its third quarter.

De Quinto currently heads Coca-Cola's Iberia division and is a vice president of the Europe group. He has also served in marketing roles in countries including Spain and Germany.

Tripodi, who has headed Coca-Cola's marketing for the past seven years, oversaw the launch of Coke's "Open Happiness" campaign.

AIR BAG RECALL

DETROIT (AP) -- Two U.S. senators are calling on U.S. auto safety regulators to immediately issue a nationwide recall for cars with faulty air bags made by Takata Corp.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Edward Markey of Massachusetts made the call in a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who oversees the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The letter delivered Thursday also asks Foxx to encourage automakers to provide free loaner cars if parts aren't available.

Air bag inflators made by Takata can rupture, causing metal fragments to fly out in a crash. Safety advocates say the problem has caused four deaths. So far automakers have recalled about 12 million vehicles worldwide due to the problem.

But in the U.S. many automakers have limited the recall to high-humidity areas in southern states.

EBOLA-HOSPITAL

DALLAS (AP) -- The hospital where a man diagnosed with Ebola died and two nurses were infected with the virus says its revenue and patient roles have plummeted.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas said in financial statements Wednesday that its revenue fell 25 percent in the first 20 days of October, shortly after Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted with Ebola.

The hospital says emergency room visits have fallen more than 50 percent, and its daily patient census fell 20 percent.

Presbyterian Hospital has been criticized for its initial care of Duncan, who was released after coming to the emergency room Sept. 25 with a fever and other Ebola symptoms. He returned three days later by ambulance and was diagnosed with the disease.

Its two infected nurses were transferred to other hospitals for treatment.

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