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 May 27, 2015 18:03 GMT

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Unemployment rates fell in 23 U.S. states in April as hiring rebounded nationwide from weak job gains the previous month.

The Labor Department said Wednesday that 11 states reported a higher unemployment rate than in March, while 16 states saw no change. Forty states gained jobs, and 9 states posted job losses.

The drag from lower oil prices that has triggered sharp cutbacks in oil drilling was evident in some states. Texas added just 1,200 jobs, far below its average monthly gain of 34,000 last year. Wyoming lost jobs, while North Dakota reported a small gain.

Nationwide, employers added a healthy 223,000 jobs in April, lowering the unemployment rate to a seven-year low of 5.4 percent. That represented a reassuring bounce back after the economy generated just 85,000 jobs in March.

Nebraska reported the lowest unemployment rate at 2.5 percent, followed by North Dakota at 3.1 percent. North Dakota had boasted the lowest rate for nearly every month since the Great Recession, but the figure has climbed from 2.7 percent a year earlier in part because of layoffs by oil drillers.

Nevada had the highest unemployment rate at 7.1 percent, followed by West Virginia at 7 percent.

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. banks' earnings rose 6.9 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier as revenues increased, delinquent loans continued to fall and the number of "problem" banks reached a six-year low.

The data issued Wednesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. showed "gradual but steady improvement" for the banking industry, FDIC Chairman Martin Gruenberg said. Still, low interest rates continued to crimp banks' profit margins on loans during the January-March period.

The FDIC reported that U.S. banks earned $39.8 billion in the first quarter, up from $37.2 billion a year earlier.

Nearly 63 percent of banks reported an increase in profit in the first quarter from a year earlier. Only 5.6 percent of banks were unprofitable -- the lowest percentage of unprofitable institutions since the second quarter of 2005.

MCDONALD'S-SALES

NEW YORK (AP) -- McDonald's says it will stop reporting its monthly sales results as the company works to fix its struggling business.

Steve Easterbrook, who became CEO of McDonald's on March 1, noted the change would happen during a presentation for analysts at the Bernstein's Strategic Decisions Conference in New York. The decision comes after Easterbrook laid out the initial steps for turning around the company's performance earlier this month.

McDonald's Corp., based in Oak Brook, Illinois, said June will be the last month for which it reports sales at established locations. Those results will be reported with its second-quarter earnings results.

Other major restaurant chains, including Burger King's parent company Restaurant Brands International and Yum Brands, which owns Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut, do not report monthly sales figures.

FORD RECALLS

DETROIT (AP) -- Ford is recalling nearly 423,000 cars and SUVs in North America because the power-assisted steering can fail while they're being driven.

The recall covers certain Ford Flex and Taurus vehicles, as well as the Lincoln MKS and MKT from 2011 through 2013. Also covered are the Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ from 2011 through 2012 and some 2011 Mercury Milans.

Ford says an intermittent electrical connection can cause the power steering to stop. That sends the steering into manual mode, making the vehicles harder to control.

Dealers will either update power steering software or replace the steering gear.

The company also is recalling 19,500 2015 Mustangs with 2.3-Liter engines due to high underbody temperatures that could degrade the fuel tank. Dealers will replace a heat shield and add insulation.

EPA-WATER REGULATIONS

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration is moving to protect the nation's drinking water with rules that clarify which smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands are protected from pollution under the Clean Water Act.

Two Supreme Court rulings had left the reach of the law uncertain. The rules issued Wednesday by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are designed to clarify which smaller bodies of water are federally protected.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the rule will only affect waters that have a "direct and significant" connection to larger bodies of water downstream that are already protected.

The rules have already run into deep opposition from farm groups and the Republican-led Congress. The House voted to block the regulations earlier this month, saying they amount to overreach.

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That is one of several environmental and company-governance resolutions on the agenda at the oil giant's annual meeting Wednesday in Dallas.

CEO Rex Tillerson is expected to discuss the outlook of the company, which has seen profits decline recently with lower prices for crude oil. Still, the company earned $32 billion last year.

An organization of Catholic priests in Milwaukee proposes to put a climate-change expert on the board, saying it would address a poor environmental image. The Exxon board opposes the resolution, saying several board members have engineering and scientific backgrounds and can handle climate issues.

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DRESDEN, Germany (AP) -- Top finance officials from the Group of Seven wealthy democracies are gathering in Germany to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy.

U.S. officials are pressing countries such as Germany that have strong economies and finances to invest more and stimulate their economies. They're also urging European leaders to find a solution to Greece's financial problems that will avoid a messy exit from the euro.

Ahead of the meeting, activists urging more help for poor countries floated large balloons bearing the faces of G-7 leaders next to Dresden's historic Frauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, urging the meeting to produce more than "hot air."

The gathered finance ministers will also tackle financial regulation and ways to cut off financing for extremist organizations such as the Islamic State group.

GREECE-BAILOUT

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (TSEE'-prahs) says his country is close to reaching a deal with its creditors, but stressed that "calm and determination" were needed in the final stretch of negotiations.

Speaking after a meeting at the finance ministry in Athens on Wednesday, Tsipras said that "we have made many steps, and we are in the final stretch, we are close to an agreement."

His comments came shortly after government officials said negotiators were to start drafting a staff-level agreement with creditors to end a months-long deadlock and unlock aid that would allow the country to make a looming debt repayment on June 5.

SPAIN-EUROPE-ECONOMY

MADRID (AP) -- Spain's government is calling for an overhaul of the European Union's common economic policy and for the European Central Bank to play a greater role in avoiding future crises.

The presidency issued a statement saying Spain has sent European institutions an eight-page proposal urging greater labor mobility, increased fiscal union with a common budget for emergency situations, completion of the banking union and the future issuance of common euro bonds.

The document says Spain believes current monetary policy is inadequate for certain members and leaves the union vulnerable to shocks.

Spain's push to give Europe more powers and forge closer financial ties seems to clash with the stances of Germany and Britain.

Spain was hit hard by the financial crisis and has a jobless rate of nearly 24 percent.

SOCCER-FIFA RAIDS

ZURICH (AP) -- Seven officials of soccer's world governing body have been arrested in Switzerland in an investigation of what the Justice Department calls "rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted" corruption.

The seven arrested in a raid at a luxury hotel in Zurich are among 14 people indicted in the U.S.

Swiss officials say only one of those officials has agreed to a quick extradition to the United States. He could be handed over to U.S. officials shortly. They say U.S. authorities now have 40 days to submit a formal extradition request to Switzerland for the other six.

All seven are connected with the regional confederations of North and South America and face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Hours after the arrests, Swiss prosecutors opened criminal proceedings into FIFA's awarding of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The Swiss prosecutors' office said in a statement that "electronic data and documents" were seized at FIFA's headquarters on Wednesday as part of their probe. And Swiss police said they will question 10 FIFA executive committee members who took part in the World Cup votes in December 2010.

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