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 December 22, 2014 18:13 GMT

HOME SALES

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fewer Americans bought homes in November as buying slid to its slowest pace in six months.

The National Association of Realtors says sales of existing homes fell 6.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.93 million. That's down from a revised pace of 5.26 million in October. Over the past 12 months, sales have risen 2.1 percent.

The combination of higher home prices and relatively stagnant incomes has reduced affordability and restrained buying activity. The recent decline in mortgage rates has yet to lure more buyers into the market, just as fewer distressed properties and bargains that attract investors are coming onto the market.

The Realtors estimate that 2014 sales will fall below 2013 levels.

Median home prices rose 5 percent over the past 12 months to $205,300.

CHINA-US-HACKING

BEIJING (AP) -- China says it has told the U.S. that it is against cyberattacks and opposes any nation or individual launching such attacks from a third country, but did not directly condemn the Sony hackings that Washington has blamed on North Korea.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the comments to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in a phone conversation Sunday night, but did not blame North Korea for the hackings against Sony Pictures, according to a statement by the Foreign Ministry.

Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying warned Monday against suggesting that China was used as a platform for the attacks without sufficient evidence.

Sony Pictures canceled the release of "The Interview" after receiving threats of terrorist attacks from hackers. U.S. federal investigators have connected the hackings to North Korea.

RUSSIA-ECONOMY

MOSCOW (AP) -- The slide in the value of Russia's ruble is straining the country's banking system.

Russia's Central Bank says it has bailed out a mid-sized bank, at a cost of about $500 million, in order to save it from bankruptcy. It will also place Trust Bank under its supervision until it finds an investor.

The bank's problems follow a tumultuous period for the ruble, which is one of the worst-performing currencies this year, along with Ukraine's currency. It has fallen by a half as oil prices have fallen. Last week, its descent gathered pace, sparking a consumer boom as worried Russians flocked to shops to buy cars and durable goods before prices rose further.

Russia's deputy prime minister responsible for overseeing the economy says he expects the ruble to rally following moderate gains at the end of last week. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov also says the government is not planning to introduce currency controls on Russian companies.

Still, a respected former finance minister, Alexei Kudrin, calls the ruble's plunge a "serious challenge" to Russia's economy and warns that "a full-blown economic crisis" could be ahead.

CUBAN RUMS

MIAMI (AP) -- U.S. rum aficionados are abuzz over the possibility of mixing a Cuba Libre with authentic Cuban rum, now that they will be able to bring home liquor distilled in the communist nation.

Relaxed limits on what licensed U.S. travelers can bring home mean that Americans will be able to enjoy small quantities of the liquor at home. But, with the embargo still in place, the rum won't be flooding bars or the market.

It's unclear what the news means for industry titan Bacardi, which was driven from its Cuba headquarters by the 1959 Castro revolution. In the past, Bacardi has left the door open for a possible return to its homeland.

In a statement, the company says it's waiting to see what effects thawing U.S.-Cuba relations may have.

ITALY-TRIPADVISOR

MILAN (AP) -- Italy's antitrust authority has fined travel planning website TripAdvisor 500,000 euros ($600,000) following complaints of improper business practices lodged by a national hoteliers' association and a consumer protection agency.

The antitrust authority said Monday that TripAdvisor had failed to adopt controls to prevent false reviews, while at the same time promoting the site's content as "authentic and genuine."

It's given TripAdvisor 90 days to present a remedy.

The Federalberghi federation of hoteliers welcomed the decision, citing the numerous examples of "defamatory" reviews that have appeared on the site.

A U.K. regulator has previously said that TripAdvisor must stop claiming that all the reviews on its British site were written by independent travelers, and therefore reliable.

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT-BANKRUPTCY

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- Trump Entertainment Resorts says a new $20 million pledge by billionaire investor Carl Icahn will give it time to restructure while keeping the struggling Taj Mahal casino open.

Icahn's proposal is $15 million more than his previous bankruptcy financing offer. Trump attorneys say it runs through Dec. 31, 2015.

It also comes without some of the conditions upon which Icahn had insisted as part of a plan that would transfer ownership of the Atlantic City, New Jersey casino to him.

The revised plan omits a demand for $175 million in state and local tax relief, but it also eliminates a pledge by Icahn, who holds $288 million in secured Trump Entertainment debt, to pump $100 million into the company.

A hearing on the latest proposal is set for Jan. 9.

DRONES-SAFETY CAMPAIGN

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The drone industry is teaming up with the government and model aircraft hobbyists to launch a safety campaign in response to increasing encounters between small drones and manned aircraft

The campaign by two unmanned aircraft trade associations, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Academy of Model Aeronautics includes the launch of a website, www.knowbeforefly.org , and the distribution of safety pamphlets.

Retailers say small drones, which are indistinguishable from today's more sophisticated model aircraft, are flying off the shelves this Christmas. But the FAA is concerned that amateurs are using the drones in a reckless manner, increasing the likelihood of a collision that could bring down a plane or rain debris down on people.

The FAA is receiving about 25 reports per month of drones sighted flying near manned aircraft.

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