Article Reveals Coal Industry Aware of Global Warming Risks Since 1966

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In recent years, it’s become evident that oil giant Exxon was aware of the causes and consequences of climate change from at least the 1970s, but chose to deliberately mislead the public for decades. A newly resurfaced article now shows coal industry executives equally understood the science of catastrophic global warming as far back as 1966.  According to a copy of the magazine Mining Congress Journal, leaders of the coal industry knew as early as the mid-1960s that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.

The head of a now defunct mining research company wrote that the combustion of fossil fuels was increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing global temperature increases.  The recently discovered article now provides evidence that both the coal and oil industries have known about catastrophic climate change for decades, yet worked to cover up the evidence in order to continue burning fossil fuels.

James Garvey, the then-president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc., which developed pollution control equipment, discussed the state of pollutants and their regulation in the coal industry at the time.  While much of the paper is concerned with sulphur in coal, a small section early in the article is concerned with carbon dioxide (CO2) discharge.  “There is evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide in the Earth’s atmosphere is increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels,” Garvey writes.

“If the future rate of increase continues as it is at the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2 envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the Earth will result.  Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London.”

Garvey’s article isn’t the only one acknowledging the dangers of coal-produced pollution in the August 1966 issue.  In a discussion piece following Garvey’s paper, combustion engineer James Jones from Peabody Coal (now called Peabody Energy, the largest private coal company in the world), does not address the global warming issue, but admits that air pollution standards to protect health have a place, saying the “Situation is Urgent”.

Jones wrote “We are in favor of cleaning up our air.  We are, in effect, ‘buying time’. But we must use that time productively to find answers to the many unsolved problems.”  In the decades to come, Peabody would become a huge industrial player in organized climate change denial.  At the end of his article, Jones wondered: “What can an individual with a personal stake in the future of the coal industry do?”  Among the answers he offered, “Be a ‘one-man’ public relations emissary for the coal industry,” Jones explained to his industry colleagues.  “Tell your neighbours, friends, and the general public how important coal is to their every-day existence. Also tell them about the all-out cooperative efforts of the coal industry to reduce air pollution.”

The concerted effort to discredit the scientific consensus over man-made global warming has been continuing for two decades in the United States and shows no sign of weakening. It is often described as an attempt on the part of corporate America, most notably the fossil fuel industries, to hinder governmental regulations on their activities.

Clemency Granted To Troops Involved In 3 Controversial War Crimes Cases

 

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The administration has granted clemency to three controversial military figures embroiled in charges of war crimes, arguing the moves will give troops “the confidence to fight” without worrying about potential legal overreach.  Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, convicted of 2nd degree murder in the death of two Afghans, was given a full pardon.  Army Maj. Mathew Golsteyn, who faced murder charges for a similar crime, was also given a full pardon for those alleged offenses.  Special Warfare Operator Chief Edward Gallagher, who earlier this year was acquitted of a string of alleged war crimes, had his rank restored to Chief Petty Officer.

Critics have warned the pardons could send the message that troops need not worry about following rules of engagement when fighting enemies abroad.  Lorance’s case dates back to a 2012 deployment to Afghanistan, when he ordered his soldiers to fire on three unarmed men riding a motorcycle near their patrol.  Members of his platoon testified against him at a court-martial trial, describing him as over-zealous and the Afghans as posing no real threat.  He was sentenced to 19 years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Golsteyn’s case had not yet been decided, with a scheduled trial date in December on charges he murdered an alleged Taliban bomb maker, and burned his remains in a trash pit during a 2010 deployment with 3rd Special Forces Group.  Golsteyn, an Army Green Beret major, had pled not guilty to murder and related charges.  His pardon effectively puts an end to that legal case before any verdicts were rendered.

While Gallagher was acquitted of murder and obstruction of justice charges in July, a panel of his peers recommended he be reduced in grade for posing with the body of the teenaged detainee, a crime he never denied.  His rank was restored with the pardon but the Navy plans to remove Chief Gallagher from the elite SEAL team despite the pardon.  It’s been reported that several top military officials threatened to resign if Navy officials did not move forward with these plans despite the pardon.

Chief Gallagher was accused of multiple offenses during his final deployment to Iraq and during the Battle for Mosul. The most prominent and disturbing accusation was the murder of a prisoner of war, a war crime.  A captured young ISIS fighter was being treated by a medic.  According to two SEAL witnesses, Gallagher said over the radio “he’s mine” and walked up to the medic and prisoner.  Without saying a word to the medic or prisoner, Gallagher killed the prisoner by stabbing him repeatedly with his hunting knife.  Gallagher and his commanding officer, Lieutenant Jake Portier, then posed for photographs of them standing over the body with some other nearby SEALs.  Gallagher then text messaged a fellow SEAL a picture of the dead captive with the explanation “Good story behind this, got him with my hunting knife.”

Gallagher was also accused of being indiscriminate, reckless and bloodthirsty during his 2017 deployment.  Fellow snipers did not consider him to be a good sniper because he would allegedly take random shots into buildings and indiscriminately spray neighborhoods with rockets and machine gun fire with no known enemy force in the region.  Several snipers testified that they witnessed Gallagher taking at least two militarily pointless shots, shooting and killing an unarmed old man in a white robe as well as a young girl walking with other girls.  Gallagher was allegedly known for boasting about the large number of people he had killed, claiming he averaged three kills a day over 80 days, including four women.

Manhattan Judge Tosses Uber Lawsuit

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A Manhattan judge has dismissed Uber Technologies Inc’s lawsuit challenging a New York City law limiting the number of licenses for ride-hailing services, the first such cap by a major American city.  New York State Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank rejected Uber’s argument that the city wrongly gave its Taxi and Limousine Commission power to enforce the cap.

Frank was also unconvinced that the cap, part of Local Law 147, would impede state efforts to reduce traffic congestion through “congestion pricing” on vehicles entering high-traffic areas of Manhattan.  The August 2018 law was meant to give New York City greater oversight of ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Lyft Inc.  It includes a one-year freeze on new licenses to for-hire vehicles, which was later extended through August 2020.

The law, which the City Council passed, required the Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) to conduct a one-year study on the possibility of regulating the number of for-hire vehicle licenses and to stop issuing new for-hire vehicle licenses for that year. The study, which was released in June, found that reductions on FHV-related traffic could “meaningfully impact overall traffic conditions.” The one-year cap was then extended this past summer.

Uber’s lawsuit argued, among other things, that the city exceeded its authority in enacting the law because the state allows the city to cap taxis but not app-based or other for-hire vehicles. But Judge Lyle E. Frank said in his decision to toss the lawsuit that the City Council acted within its rights when it allowed TLC to adjust the number of for-hire vehicle licenses.

Bill Heinzen, acting TLC commissioner, said in a statement “We are grateful the court has again recognized the TLC’s power to address the problems that companies like Uber have created by flooding the streets of NYC.  Drivers are bringing home an additional $750 a month on average because we fought back against their tactics, and the Mayor and TLC will continue to fight for less congestion and better pay for drivers.”

The legislation also allows New York City to set a minimum wage for drivers with Uber, Lyft and other ride-hailing services.  The case is separate from Uber’s Sept. 20 challenge to a New York City “cruising cap” rule limiting how much time its drivers could spend without passengers in Manhattan south of 96th Street.

Uber has drawn criticism from many cities that its vehicles increase congestion, and commandeer business from taxis.  The value of medallions, which are permits needed to operate yellow taxis in New York City and are distinct from ride-hailing licenses, has plunged as Uber and Lyft gained popularity.  Taxi workers have long supported measures like the cap on for-hire vehicles to reduce the amount of vehicles driving around the city, as they face crippling amounts of debt due to a dramatic decrease in the value of medallions.

 

Boeing CEO Testifies Before Congressional Committees

 

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Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg testified before a pair of congressional committees for the first time since two deadly crashes of 737 MAX airliners, which killed a combined 346 people. His testimony follows a report in the Washington Post that top Boeing executives failed to intervene after two top pilots at the company identified problems with automated flight control software that would lead to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The Justice Department is also conducting criminal investigation against Boeing.  Muilenburg admitted Boeing failed to provide pilots with additional key safety system information.

During the hearing, Muilenburg acknowledged for the first time that he had been briefed, prior to the second crash, of messages from a test pilot who had raised safety concerns about the 737 Max. Boeing said it gave those messages to the Department of Justice in early 2019, but only alerted the Federal Aviation Administration and Congress to the existence of those messages in the past few weeks.

The House Transportation Committee released a redacted copy of a 2015 email in which a Boeing expert questioned making the flight system called MCAS depend on just one sensor to measure the plane’s pitch — its “angle of attack,” or AOA.  Boeing went ahead with the single-sensor design, with no backup to prevent MCAS from pushing the plane into a dive. Investigators believe faulty readings from a single sensor triggered nose-down commands before both crashes.  Muilenburg explained changes Boeing is making to the Max and other steps it is taking to improve safety. He conceded that the company “made some mistakes” in designing MCAS and telling regulators and pilots about the system.

Members of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also focused on why Boeing decided to only have one sensor on the outside of the plane, with no back-up, to alert pilots when the angle of the aircraft was off. They also asked why the plane’s safety system only gave pilots four seconds to react to take back control of the plane if a malfunction occurred.   While acknowledging that Boeing planned to make fixes to the craft, some lawmakers also questioned why the company took so long to come to that conclusion.  “We would do it differently if we knew what we know today,” Muilenburg said.

Several committee members pressed the CEO to make more changes in the aftermath of the crash, including giving up some of the $15 million in pay and bonus he received last year, out of $23 million in total compensation for 2018.  Boeing successfully lobbied regulators to keep any explanation of the system, called MCAS, from pilot manuals and training. After the crashes, the company tried to blame the pilots, said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut.  “Those pilots never had a chance,” Blumenthal said. Passengers “never had a chance. They were in flying coffins as a result of Boeing deciding that it was going to conceal MCAS from the pilots.”

Representative Albio Sires also read a worker email sent to the head of Boeing’s 737 production team in mid-2018 that claimed high production goals were straining workers and increased the potential for mistakes. “For the first time in my history with Boeing I would be hesitant about putting my family on a Boeing airplane,” wrote the veteran Boeing employee.  Muilenburg said he only became aware of the worker’s concerns after the Lion Air 737 Max crash October 29. He said the 737 production line was working at a “high rate” at the time and the issues raised by the now-retired employee had been investigated and addressed.  Boeing, in fact, never cut back the production of the planes, despite the concerns.

Fort Worth Officer Charged With Murder

 

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Fort Worth, Texas Police Officer Aaron Dean, 34, has been arrested and charged with murder after he shot and killed a 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson inside her own home.  Aaron Dean was booked into the Tarrant County Corrections Center and later released on a $200,000 bond, according to jail officials.  The arrest came just hours after Dean’s resignation from the police force. Dean, who joined the department in April 2018, still faces possible civil rights violations, Kraus said.

Interim police Chief Ed Kraus said during a press conference earlier that he intended to end Officer Aaron Dean’s employment, but that Dean tendered his resignation first.  Had the officer not resigned, I would have fired him for violations for several policies, including our use of force policy, our de-escalation policy and unprofessional conduct.  Dean was initially placed on administrative leave after he shot Jefferson to death but he has not been cooperating with investigators in the case, Kraus said.

Officer Dean was responding to a non-emergency call from a neighbor for a wellness check after the neighbor saw Jefferson’s front door was open.  Jefferson was playing video games with her 8 year old nephew early Saturday morning just minutes before she was killed.  Body camera shows that when police arrived, Dean shined a flashlight through Jefferson’s window and yelled, “Put your hands up — show me your hands,” before firing a single shot at Jefferson seconds later.  He never identified himself as a police officer.

Police Chief Kraus said he doesn’t know what, exactly, led Dean to open fire.  “I cannot make sense of why she had to lose her life.” The chief said Dean resigned without talking to internal affairs investigators.  The video included images of a gun inside a bedroom. Kraus said he did not know whether Jefferson was holding the weapon. But he said the mere fact she had a gun shouldn’t be considered unusual in Texas.  “We’re homeowners in Texas,” the police chief said. “Most of us, if we thought we had somebody outside our house that shouldn’t be and we had access to a firearm, we would be acting very similarly to how she was acting.” Kraus said that, in hindsight, releasing the images of the weapon was “a bad thing to do.”

Jefferson was staying at her mother’s house in Fort Worth to help her recover from an injury when the shooting happened at about 2:25 a.m.   A lawyer for Jefferson’s family, Lee Merritt, said her relatives were “relieved” over the arrest.  Merritt said that on the night of the shooting she had been playing video games with her 8-year-old nephew and lost track of time. Earlier that night, he said, the family had opened the front door to allow crisp fall air inside to cool down the house.  “We need to see this through to a vigorous prosecution & appropriate sentencing,” he tweeted. “The City of Fort Worth has much work to do to reform a brutal culture of policing.”

In a separate news conference earlier Monday, Jefferson’s family demanded an outside investigation into her death.  “This man murdered someone,” Darius Carr, Jefferson’s brother, told reporters.  Jefferson was “simply going on along with her life, living a law-abiding citizen’s peaceful life, and she was killed by a reckless act of a Fort Worth police officer,” an older sister, Ashley Carr, said. “There is simply no justification for his actions.”  Police Chief Kraus brought the case to the Texas Rangers, who he said were not inclined to take it up at that point, and to the FBI, which did not immediately say whether it would review it.

 

 

GM and UAW Reach Tentative Deal

 

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As the GM strike entered its fifth week, the United Auto Workers union announced that picketing workers can expect an extra $25 a week from the union’s strike fund.  GM, on the other hand, can expect its dealers to face increased difficulty in sourcing certain replacement parts, while others worry about the prospect of subpar inventory.  The UAW’s bargaining team presented a new comprehensive offer to GM as talks continued.  In addition to the slightly boosted strike pay, the UAW also lifted the cap on cash earned at outside jobs. Starting Sunday, workers moonlighting at other jobs can keep the full strike payment, regardless of what they made in their alternate gig. Strike payments are typically clawed back on a dollar-for-dollar basis after the worker passes the $250 threshold.

In addition to a host of other issues, health care sits near the top of UAW concerns in this latest round of talks. With GM looking to downsize in an era of shrinking auto sales and economic uncertainty, offering generous health benefits represents a major cost to each company.  An agreement was reached between GM and the UAW that keeps the previous health care arrangement intact.  The agreement keeps the arrangement where workers cover just 3 percent of their health care costs — an agreement GM briefly abandoned earlier in the bargaining process.  The automakers would undoubtedly seek concessions in other areas but unions are not prone to accept concessions lightly.

In the tentative deal with General Motors, the union won on many of its goals, including a path to permanent employment for temporary autoworkers, a faster route to top pay for workers hired after 2007 and a flattened pay structure for permanent employees, who would reach $32.32 per hour by the end of the four-year deal.  The biggest obvious loss for the union is the continued closure of the Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio.

The Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio is to remain closed, as will transmission plants in Warren and Baltimore; and a parts distribution center in Fontana, California, will close during the term of the contract.  The union said it negotiated assistance packages for workers at Lordstown, Warren and Baltimore transmission plants, including $75,000 payments for eligible production workers and $85,000 for skilled workers who retire.  There are also buyout options for those not eligible to retire.

Some other features of the deal include UAW-represented GM workers will get a bonus of $11,000 upon ratification of the deal and temporary workers will get $4,500.  GM will invest $7.7 billion in U.S. facilities to create or retain 9,000 jobs.  There will be wage increases of 3% in the second and fourth year of the contract, with 4% lump sum payments in the first and third years.  Temporary workers, who have been paid $15-$19 an hour with inferior benefits to permanent autoworkers, get a path to a permanent role starting next year. Part-time workers get a path to regular status starting in 2021. These workers also get improved paid and unpaid time off.  By September 2023, all permanent manufacturing employees will be at $32.32 per hour.

The tentative deal is far from perfect and the UAW is trying to persuade union workers to accept the deal.  Experts said General Motors has lost more than $1 billion in profits, while line workers have lost nearly $750 million in income. With the state of Michigan are losing tax dollars, there’s a growing sentiment that something has to change soon and many hope this deal will finally end the strike.

Man Charged With Murder of 4 Homeless Men

 

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A suspect has been arrested after four homeless men were killed and one was critically injured when they were attacked in New York City early Saturday morning.  Police said Randy Rodriguez-Santos, 24, who is homeless, wielded a 15-pound metal pipe and apparently attacked the men randomly as they slept on the sidewalks of Lower Manhattan’s Chinatown.  Santos is reportedly also homeless and has struggled with addiction.  He is charged with four counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Police responded to reports of an assault in progress at Doyers Street and Bowery around 2:10 a.m. and found two men with head wounds. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene and another was taken to the hospital in critical condition.  Over the next hour, police discovered additional victims in the area, two men were found outside of 2 East Broadway and another was found outside of 17 East Broadway.

Two witnesses told responding officers that the suspect was wearing a black jacket and black pants, which helped police find him quickly just a few streets away.  Rodriguez-Santos was apprehended a few blocks from the scene of the attacks and the weapon was recovered nearby.  The attacks left blood splattered on the doorways and sidewalks where the men had been sleeping.

The victims, whose ages range from 48 to 83, were bludgeoned as they slept on the street.  Three of the four men killed were identified Monday, as lawmakers and mourners gathered at an emotional memorial for the men at Chatham Square.  Several sidewalk tributes of flowers, candles and food were placed for the men who were allegedly killed by another homeless man as they slept.  One of the mourners cried as she recalled the oldest victim, 83-year-old Chuen Kwok, always being grateful for the food she gave him.  New York State assembly woman Yuh-Line Niou choked back tears as she spoke on the mens’ deaths. “If the change isn’t now, after this, I don’t know when it is.”

The medical examiner’s office later confirmed his identity and those of two other victims: 55-year-old Nazario Vazquez Villegas and 49-year-old Anthony Manson.  Santos was arraigned on charges of murder and attempted murder for the bloody rampage. He did not enter a plea and was ordered held without bail.  Police officials said Santos has been arrested 14 times, some of those for assault, including one in May for an alleged assault at a Brooklyn homeless shelter.

The suspect’s mother, Fioraliza Rodriguez, 55, told news outlets she had kicked him out about three years ago. He struggled with drugs, assaulted her and his grandfather, and stole from the family, she said.  “I never thought he would kill someone,” she said. “I was afraid of him, though, because he punched me. That’s when I told him to get out of my house.”