Congressional Interns and Congress Redirections—A Meeting

On a beautiful, breezy day last week, I spoke to a roomful of Congressional summer interns working in the House of Representatives. The subject was “Corporate Power, Congress and You.” (“You” referred to the interns as the citizenry).

I noted that they were a special group because they were willing to spend an hour listening to a talk about corporate power. I told them about how small groups of ordinary citizens became leaders in the nuclear arms control movements, the anti-tobacco drives, and consumer rights movement. I also talked about the expansion of equal rights and opportunities for people with disabilities. I took note that many of them in the room – women and people of color— would not be there if not for their predecessors’ tireless efforts to advance civil rights.

No more than one percent of Americans – sometimes far less – made the many advances in peace and justice take hold, backed by a growing public opinion.

In the 15,000 or 20,000 days these young people have, it will be their responsibility to stop the following omnicidal threats to humanity and the natural world:

  1. Climate crisis or climate disruption, which is already wreaking havoc. A student asked me about the ‘Green New Deal’, which urges dramatic action. I recommend that they make the strong case that we must plan ahead for the sake of the planet. It will cost trillions to solarize our economy and otherwise reduce greenhouse gases, but that pales in comparison to the trillions of dollars that will have to be spent on mitigating the effects of climate catastrophe, which would fundamentally damage our fragile planet. In fact, International Renewable Energy Agency research found that transitioning to renewable energy will save between “$65 trillion and $160 trillion [between now and] 2050.”  These costs would include spending to save coastal cities from ocean over-runs and all the other violent weather patterns and convulsions in habitat coming on this fragile planet Earth.
  2. A runaway nuclear arms race between countries, which threatens to cause untold destruction. A nuclear arms race can increase the risk of nuclear weaponry being used on innocents, whether intentionally or by accidental computerized launch. Donald J. Trump seems to think that ending our treaties with Russia (without Senate approval) regarding reduction of nuclear war heads will “make America great again.”
  3. Global pandemics caused by mutations of viruses and bacteria are a lethal threat. Malaria, dengue fever, and transmittable deadly avian flu are just a few of the diseases that have the potential to spread further because of habitat disruption, tourism, and travel. The U.S. is spending far too little money to protect its people from such invisible disease vectors. Less than a fourth each year of what one redundant aircraft carrier (largely obsolete except for purposes of Empire force projection) costs. While Americans today might not think much of this threat, millions of Americans died in the 1919-1920 flu pandemic.
  4. Endemic poverty and grave inequalities afflict billions of human beings. Roughly one in four children in the world suffers from chronic malnutrition, if not semi-starvation. Most will wither in pain and resignation. Some will be searching for vengeance using physical violence against the institutionalized violence of global corporations and corrupt governments taking their favors.
  5. The emerging corporate fascistic states are dispossessing the citizenry of their rights, remedies, and facilities to organize and express their voices. The U.S. is now a maturing corporate state. Wall Street owns more of Washington and turns our government against its own people while feeding privileges, immunities and gigantic freebies and tax escapes to demanding global companies. When commercial values are allowed supremacy over citizen values, societies decline relentlessly.

I continued my remarks about how corporations have been given by the Federal Courts the same rights as human beings. Even though, neither the words “corporation” or “company” ever appear in our Constitution. Add this corporate “personhood” to the expanding privileges and immunities of corporate power, in these times of corporate crime waves, and equal justice under law between U.S. citizens and Exxon/Mobil or Pfizer or Wells Fargo is a cruel mockery.

I told the students to look at the fine print contracts they sign or click on that have taken away their precious freedom of contract and sometimes their historic right to pursue wrongdoers in court.

What is worse, youngsters grow up ‘corporate’ rather than grow up ‘civic’ – think of all the corporate ads they are subjected to that are not contradicted. Young people don’t even realize what has been stripped away from their rightful protections.

Interns are spending the summer with Congress – the smallest yet most powerful branch of government in the Constitution – where some 1,500 corporations have undermined the peoples’ delegated power. These corporations rent or own a majority of the Senators and Representatives and tell them how to vote on many serious matters.

Yet, as Patti Smith sings, the people do have the power, if they wish to exercise it. People have formidable democratic tools – they are the sovereign power, they have the vote. They own the greatest wealth in the country (vast public lands, public airwaves, and trillions of dollars in pension and mutual funds, which own the stocks of large corporations).  The peoples’ tax dollars have led to government-sponsored research and development that have spawned the major industries of our times.

Led by one percent of active citizens in their communities the people – left and right – can achieve a living wage economy, full health insurance, law and order for corporations, a fair tax system, and organizing rights for workers, consumers, and small taxpayers. We can develop solar energy capabilities quicker. Our public budgets can be redirected to critical domestic public works infrastructure and away from costly Empire building abroad.

Students informed me of their focus on electoral reforms, the use of manipulative euphemisms, and opportunities for work in civic engagement. I was encouraged.

Most picked up our materials, including the card on how to reform Congress (see ratsreformcongress.org). They left the room, I hope, with higher civic expectations for themselves.

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It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers

Friends often ask me why I spend so much time reading print versions of newspapers. I respond with the usual general reasons about learning what is happening, worsening or improving, in the world. I also point out that I send people helpful clippings.

Unfortunately, my responses do not get many people to expand their print newspaper reading time. Some recent topics that caught my attention might encourage you to revisit the printed version of your newspapers:

  1. It’s the middle of the night. Do you know who your iPhone is talking to?” The Washington Post’s Geoffrey A. Fowler says this is not true. With his screen off, he showed 5,400 hidden app trackers guzzled his data in a single week. Shame Apple and CEO Tim Cook. You lied.
  2. Take a Page From Kids Who Care” – The Washington Post’s Christina Barron starts with the now famous Greta Thunberg’s weekly protests on climate disruption before the Swedish Parliament and goes on to reference eight new books “in which kids engage, in ways big and small, to better the world.”
  3. Why I’m Swearing off Trump’s Nicknames,” by Karen Tumulty of The Washington Post. About time a writer did this. When will reporters stop being Trump’s bullhorn for his scornful, ugly nicknames, without printing rebuttals or nicknames coined by Trump critics– like “Draft-dodging Donald,” or “Lying Donald,” or “Corrupt Donald,” for example.
  4. MacKenzie Bezos Pledges to Give Half of her $36 billion Fortune to Charity,” by Washington Post’s Rachel Siegel. One very rich couple’s divorce may mean better lives and saving lives for many people if Ms. Bezos spends money to promote justice and we might need less charity. Her Foundation is coming.
  5. The Shadow Banks are back with another Big Bad Credit Bubble,” by The Washington Post’s incomparable Steve Pearlstein. With weak or no regulation of these speculators/lenders, there may be a replay of the 2008 financial crisis.
  6. Many teens sleep with their phones, survey finds—just like their parents” by The Washington Post’s Craig Timberg. This practice undermines “cognitive function and mental health while increasing obesity rates” and causing household conflicts.
  7. Joshua A. Douglas is out with a key book, Vote for US: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting. Reclaiming the electoral process is crucial for our democracy and –to improve the quality of life in our country.
  8. Why We May all Have to Give Up Pork”—letter to the editor of The Washington Post by Patricia E. Perry. She cites documented infectious diseases and Trump’s move to sideline federal inspectors and allow even more self-inspection by the meat packers wanting to speed up the slaughter-processing assembly lines. Ugh!
  9. Hogan Will Not Challenge Trump, Leaving Trump’s GOP Critics with Limited Options,” by The Washington Post’s Robert Costa. Like Maryland governor Larry Hogan, other fearful, viable challengers like Senator Mitt Romney, former Ohio governor John Kasich, Arizona ex-Senator Jeff Flake, and former U.S. trade representative Carla Hills aren’t going to challenge Trump. Trump is clearing the Republican primary field with foul mouthed intimidation. No matter these Republican politicians really believe Trump is a clear and present danger to our Republic and to the future of the Republican Party. Only the laid back former governor, William Weld, has his hat in the ring.
  10. The NFL Has Finally Been Consumed by the Concussion Issue. Why Hasn’t the NHL?” by The New York Times’ John Branch. Consumed, that is, after years of cover-ups. The Hockey bosses literally stage fights between players kept on the team just to fight for the boisterous crowds. Head injuries have taken the lives and diminished the brain functions of scores of players over their shortened lives. This is criminal and sets a bad example for youthful amateur sports where concussions are not taken seriously enough. See our Leagueoffans.org.
  11. Art Festival is Welcome, But Not the Huge Crowds,” by The New York Times’Helene Stapinski. The 13th annual free “Figment Arts Festival” on Roosevelt Island is overwhelmed by 30,000 visitors. “Huge crowds forced the tram to shut down and the bridge to close, overwhelming the subway platform.” Makes you wonder why civic conferences, open free to the public, dealing with the most precious matters of livelihood, peace, and justice beg to fill the empty seats.
  12. If Trump Doesn’t Warrant Impeachment, Who Does?” by The Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson. It’s useful to have Robinson list many of Trump’s impeachable offenses in one place. He still left out several serious acts such as blatantly, openly dismantling the enforcement of health and safety laws in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the law and conducting illegal wars without Congressional declarations and appropriations.
  13. The Cybersecurity 202: Democratic Base Fired Up by Effort to Ban Internet-Connected Voting Machines.” By Joseph Marks of The Washington Post. Why not an easy solution? While we are at it, why not adopt the Canadian system of paper ballots fully counted by 11pm on election day in that vast country with no proprietary software and corrupt procurement of voting machines.
  14. When will the Republican Silence on Trump End?” An op-ed by William S. Cohen, former Senator from Maine and Secretary of Defense. Hmm, when will Mr. Cohen decide to practice what he preaches and run against Trump in the Republican primaries?
  15. Why are so many doctors burning out? Tons of real and electronic paperwork,” by Daniel Marchalik in The Washington Post. Physicians are quitting because they have too little time to practice medicine. Not so in Canada where they have Medicare for all and almost no billing nightmares for themselves and their patients.

Newspaper publishers want readers to discover that print versions of newspapers can expose you to content that you don’t already agree with or like online. You aren’t likely to go searching for an article saying “You can’t stop Robocalls, You Shouldn’t Have to.” The New York Times put Brian Chen’s article on this topic on a page for you. By reading the print edition of a newspaper, you might just see something that your online news alerts or search engine algorithms don’t automatically present.

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FAA’s Boeing-biased Officials: Recuse Yourselves or Resign

The Boeing-driven FAA is rushing to unground the notorious prone-to-stall Boeing 737 MAX (that killed 346 innocents in two crashes) before several official investigations are completed. Troubling revelations might keep these planes grounded worldwide.

The FAA has a clearly established pro-Boeing bias and will likely allow Boeing to unground the 737 MAX. We must demand that the two top FAA officials resign or recuse themselves from taking any more steps that might endanger the flying public. The two Boeing-indentured men are Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell and Associate FAA Administrator for Aviation Safety Ali Bahrami.

Immediately after the crashes, Elwell resisted grounding and echoed Boeing claims that the Boeing 737 MAX was a safe plane despite the deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

Ali Bahrami is known for aggressively pushing the FAA through 2018 to further abdicate its regulatory duties by delegating more safety inspections to Boeing. Bahrami’s actions benefit Boeing and are supported by the company’s toadies in the Congress. Elwell and Bahrami have both acquired much experience by going through the well-known revolving door between the industry and the FAA. They are likely to leave the FAA once again for lucrative positions in the aerospace lobbying or business world. With such prospects, they do not have much ‘skin in the game’ for their pending decision.

The FAA has long been known for its non-regulatory, waiver-driven, de-regulatory traditions. It has a hard time saying NO to the aircraft manufacturers and the airlines. After the aircraft hijackings directing flights to Cuba in the 1960s and 1970s, the FAA let the airlines say NO to installing hardened cockpit doors and stronger latches in their planes. These security measures would have prevented the hijackers from invading the cockpits of the aircrafts on September 11, 2001. The airlines did not want to spend the $3000 per plane. Absent the 9/11 hijackings, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney might not have gone to war in Afghanistan.

The FAA’s historic “tombstone” mentality (slowly reacting after the crashes) is well known. For example, in the 1990s the FAA had a delayed reaction to numerous fatal crashes caused by antiquated de-icing rules. The FAA was also slow to act on ground-proximity warning requirements for commuter airlines and flammability reduction rules for aircraft cabin materials.

That’s the tradition that Elwell and Bahrami inherited and have worsened. They did not even wait for Boeing to deliver its reworked software before announcing in April that simulator training would not be necessary for the pilots. This judgment was contrary to the experience of seasoned pilots such as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. Simulator training would delay ungrounding and cost the profitable airlines money.

Boeing has about 5,000 orders for the 737 MAX. It has delivered less than 400 to the world’s airlines. From its CEO, Dennis Muilenburg to its swarms of Washington lobbyists, law firms, and public relations outfits, Boeing is used to getting its way. Its grip on Congress – where 300 members take campaign cash from Boeing – is legendary. Boeing pays little in federal and Washington state taxes. It fumbles contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense but remains the federal government’s big vendor for lack of competitive alternatives in a highly concentrated industry.

Right now, the Boeing/FAA strategy is to make sure Elwell and his FAA quickly decide that the MAX is safe for takeoff by delaying or stonewalling Congressional and other investigations.

The compliant Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, under Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), strangely has not scheduled anymore hearings. The Senate confirmation of Stephen Dickson to replace acting chief Elwell is also on a slow track. A new boss at the FAA might wish to take some time to review the whole process.

Time is not on the side of the 737 MAX 8. A comprehensive review of the 737 MAX’s problems is a non-starter for Boeing. Boeing’s flawed software and instructions that have kept pilots and airlines in the dark have already been exposed. New whistleblowers and more revelations will emerge. More time may also result in the Justice Department’s operating grand jury issuing some indictments. More time would let the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, led by Chairman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) dig into the failure of accountability and serial criminal negligence of Boeing and its FAA accomplices. Chairman DeFazio knows the history of the FAA’s regulatory capture.

Not surprising on June 4, 2019, DeFazio sent a stinging letter to FAA’s Elwell and his corporatist superior, Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, about the FAA’s intolerable delays in sending requested documents to the Committee. DeFazio’s letter says: “To say we are disappointed and a bit bewildered at the ongoing delays to appropriately respond to our records requests would be an understatement.”

The FAA and its Boeing pals are using the “trade secret” claims to censor records sought by the House Committee. When it comes to investigating life or death airline hazards and crashes, Congress is capable of handling so-called trade secrets. This is all the more reason why the terminally prejudiced Elwell and Bahrami should step aside and let their successors take a fresh look at the Boeing investigations. That effort would include opening up the certification process for the entire Boeing MAX as a “new plane.”

The Boeing-biased Elwell and Bahrami have refused to even raise in public proceedings the question: “After eight or more Boeing 737 iterations, at what point does the Boeing MAX 8 become a new plane?” Many, including Cong. David Price (D-NC), chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the FAA’s budget, have already questioned the limited certification process.

Heavier engines on the old 737 fuselage changed the MAX’s aerodynamics and made it prone-to-stall. It is time for the FAA’s leadership to change before the 737 MAX flies with vulnerable, glitch-prone software “fixes”.

Notwithstanding the previous Boeing 737 series’ record of safety in the U.S. during the past decade – (one fatality), Boeing’s bosses, have now disregarded warnings by its own engineers. Boeing executives do not get one, two, three or anymore crashes attributed to their ignoring long-known aerodynamic engineering practices.

The Boeing 737 MAX must never be allowed to fly again, given the structural design defects built deeply into its system.

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Society Is In Decay – When the Worst is First and the Best is Last

Plutocrats like to control the range of permissible public dialogue. Plutocrats also like to shape what society values. If you want to see where a country’s priorities lie, look at how it allocates its money. While teachers and nurses earn comparatively little for performing critical jobs, corporate bosses including those who pollute our planet and bankrupt defenseless families, make millions more. Wells Fargo executives are cases in point. The vastly overpaid CEO of General Electric left his teetering company in shambles. In 2019, Boeing’s CEO got a bonus (despite the Lion Air Flight 610 737 Max 8 crash in 2018). Just days before a second deadly 737 Max 8 crash in Ethiopia.

This disparity is on full display in my profession. Public interest lawyers and public defenders, who fight daily for a more just and lawful society, are paid modest salaries. On the other hand, the most well compensated lawyers are corporate lawyers who regularly aid and abet corporate crime, fraud, and abuse. Many corporate lawyers line their pockets by shielding the powerful violators from accountability under the rule of law.

Physicians who minister to the needy poor and go to the risky regions, where Ebola or other deadly infectious diseases are prevalent, are paid far less than cosmetic surgeons catering to human vanities. Does any rational observer believe that the best movies and books are also the most rewarded? Too often the opposite is true. Stunningly gripping documentaries earn less than 1 percent of what is garnered by the violent, pornographic, and crude movies at the top of the ratings each week.

On my weekly radio show, I interview some of the most dedicated authors who accurately document perils to health and safety. The authors on my program expose pernicious actions and inactions that jeopardize people’s daily lives. These guests offer brilliant, practical solutions for our widespread woes (see ralphnaderradiohour.com). Their important books, usually go unnoticed by the mass media, barely sell a few thousand copies, while the best-seller lists are dominated by celebrity biographies. Ask yourself, when preventable and foreseeable disasters occur, which books are more useful to society?

The monetary imbalance is especially jarring when it comes to hawks who beat the drums of war. For example, people who push for our government to start illegal wars (eg. John Bolton pushing for the war in Iraq) are rewarded with top appointments. Former government officials also get very rich when they take jobs in the defense industry. Do you remember anyone who opposed the catastrophic Iraq War getting such lucrative rewards?

The unknown and unrecognized people who harvest our food are on the lowest rung of the income ladder despite the critical role they play in our lives. Near the top of the income ladder are people who gamble on the prices of food via the commodities market and those who drain the nutrients out of natural foods and sell the junk food that remains, with a dose of harmful additives. Agribusiness tycoons profit from this plunder.

Those getting away with major billing fraud grow rich. While those people trying to get our government to do something about $350 billion dollars in health care billing fraud this year – like Harvard Professor Malcolm K. Sparrow – live on a college professor’s salary.

Hospital executives, who each make millions of dollars a year, preside over an industry where about 5,000 patients die every week from preventable problems in U.S. hospitals, according to physicians at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. The watchdogs who call out this deadly hazard live on a fraction of that amount as they try to save lives.

Even in sports, where people think the best athletes make the most money, the reverse is more often true. Just ask a red-faced Brian Cashman, the Yankees GM, who, over twenty years, has spent massive sums on athletes who failed miserably to produce compared to far lesser-paid baseball players. Look at today’s top ranked Yankees – whose fifteen “stars” are injured, while their replacements are playing spectacularly for much smaller compensation than their high priced teammates.

A major reason why our society’s best are so often last while our worst are first is the media’s infatuation with publicizing the worst and ignoring the best. Warmongers get press. The worst politicians are most frequently on the Sunday morning TV shows – not the good politicians or civic leaders with proven records bettering our society.

Ever see Congressman Pascrell (Dem. N.J.) on the Sunday morning news shows? Probably not. He’s a leader who is trying to reform Congress so that it is open, honest, capable and represents you the people. Surely you have heard of Senator Lindsey Graham (Rep. S.C.) who is making ugly excuses for Donald Trump, always pushing for war and bloated military budgets, often hating Muslims and Arabs and championing the lawless American Empire. He is always in the news, having his say.

Take the 162 people who participated in our Superbowl of Civic Action at Constitution Hall in Washington D.C. in May and September 2016. These people have and are changing America. They are working to make food, cars, drugs, air, water, medical devices, and drinking water safer. Abuses by corporations against consumers, workers and small taxpayers would be worse without them. Our knowledge of solutions and ways to treat people fairly and abolish poverty and advance public services is greater because of their courageous hard work. (see breakingthroughpower.org).

The eight days of this Civic Superbowl got far less coverage than did Tiger Woods losing another tournament that year or the dismissive nicknames given by the foul-mouth Trump to his mostly wealthy Republican opponents on just one debate stage.

All societies need play, entertainment, and frivolity. But a media obsessed with giving 100 times the TV and radio time, using our public airwaves for free, to those activities than to serious matters crucial to the most basic functioning of our society is assuring that the worst is first and the best is last. Just look at your weekly TV Guide.

If the whole rotted-out edifice comes crashing down, there won’t be enough coerced taxpayer dollars anymore to save the Plutocrats, with their limitless greed and power. Maybe then the best can have a chance to be first.

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Trump: Importing Dangerous Medicines and Food and Keeping Consumers in the Dark

Conservatives favor consumer choice. Consumer information is vital to make that choice meaningful. Corporatists, masquerading as conservatives, do not care about informed consumer choice. Donald Trump is a corporatist, as are the vast majority of Republicans in his Cabinet and in Congress. Corporatists do not even want you to know where products are made. Today, producers and retail sellers do not have to tell you the “country of origin” for meat and pork products. Before 2015, when Congress bowed to the dictates of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Congress had enacted a law that required country of origin labels on meat products.

People wanted to know whether the beef and pork sold in their local stores was from the U.S., or Canada, Brazil, China, Mexico, or South Africa, among other importers. But after the WTO judges in Geneva, Switzerland decided, bizarrely, that “country of origin” labeling was an impermissible non-tariff trade barrier, Congress meekly passed a bill that repealed the labeling law and President Obama signed this legislation into law.

While Donald Trump claims to reject “free trade” treaties, he has been silent on country of origin regulations. State Cattlemen’s Associations want laws mandating country of origin labels, believing that consumers are more trusting of the U.S. meat industry than the meat industries in most other countries. These associations know that the U.S.D.A. Food Safety and Inspection Service has a much less rigorous inspection process for imported meats. Unfortunately, the rest of the meat industry likes to import meat, without labeling, and mix it up with the U.S. products. Trump – a prodigious meat eater has yet to tweet in favor of the American cattle industry, even though many people in this part of the U.S. meat industry voted for him in 2016.

Even worse, we cannot tell where our drugs are being manufactured. Rosemary Gibson, author of China Rx: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine thinks American patients are endangered by imported medicines. Gibson is about to testify before Congress on her very disturbing findings regarding importation of medicines from China. I’ve been trying to get the attention of Donald Trump, his Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, and the Secretary of Agriculture, Sunny Perdue, regarding risks with importation of food and drugs. Letters, emails, and calls have been met with silence. By not responding, they’re telling us who they primarily support—corporate profiteering interests. That is one reason why Trump has broken his promise to the American people to bring down staggeringly high drug prices.

It will be harder for the Trump administration to ignore journalist Katherine Eban . Eban provides us with a terrifying glimpse of her new book, Bottle of Lies: The Inside Story of the Generic Drug Boom, in a New York Times article published on Sunday May 11, 2019. The article, “Americans Need Generic Drugs, But Can They Trust Them?” exposes the widespread unsafe conditions in many Indian and Chinese labs and plants that manufacture generic drugs for the U.S. market (generics amount to 90 percent of the U.S. supply of drugs). One of her sources was an intrepid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspector, Peter Baker (he has since left the agency).

Baker was a bold and honest auditor. He refused to announce lab inspections in advance, as is FDA’s lackadaisical practice. From 2012 to 2018, Baker discovered “fraud or deceptive practices in almost four-fifths of the drug plants he inspected” in India and China. Indian and Chinese manufacturers engaged in data manipulation that could prove deadly.

At one firm, the Wockhardt plant in India, Baker caught the company knowingly releasing insulin vials containing metallic fragments from a defective sterilizing machine into Indian and foreign markets. Eban reports that “[Baker] learned that the company had been using the same defective equipment to make a sterile injectable cardiac drug for the American market.” Two months later, the FDA banned imports from that plant.

Eban continues, shockingly: “In some instances, deceptions and other practices have contributed to generic drugs with toxic impurities, unapproved ingredients and dangerous particulates reaching American patients.” This is nothing new. In 2008, at least 81 American patients died in hospitals after being given heparin, a blood thinner that contained a contaminated ingredient from China.

You’d think that the FDA would demand from Trump more inspectors abroad and the U.S. Department of Agriculture would ask the White House for more U.S.D.A. Food and Safety inspectors, along with tougher laws and penalties on unsafe imports to transmit to Congress. After all, the sheer scope of U.S. drug companies going to China and India to produce drugs cheaply, so as to swell their already swollen profits, is simply stunning.

Another chilling statistic from Eban is that “Nearly forty percent of all our generic drugs are made in India. Eighty percent of active ingredients for both our brand and generic drugs come from abroad, the majority from India and China… America makes almost none of its own antibiotics anymore” (My emphasis). The outsourcing of the production of drugs to foreign countries presents vast challenges for health and safety regulators.

One would think this surrender to imports, whose sole purpose is to fatten U.S. drug companies’ profits, would be considered both a consumer safety threat and a national security matter. Why isn’t Trump doing anything to keep Americans safe from dangerous foreign products, as he crows about tariffs?

Of course the FDA responds with their usual phony assurances about its reliable inspections, putting out a statement that reads: “The F.D.A. inspects all brand-name and generic manufacturing facilities around the world which manufacture product for the U.S. market.”

Is that why the FDA, which has largely conducted unannounced inspections of U.S. plants, still allows pre-announcement of the vast majority of its foreign inspections? Eban reports, the FDA investigators are treated as “the company’s guests and agree on an inspection date in advance…Plant officials have served as hosts and helped to arrange local travel.”

Messrs. Trump, Azar, and Perdue better wake up before innocent Americans lose their lives due to corporate indentured government officials failing to properly do their jobs. Do they want a major disaster to land on their derelict desks?

They are on full public notice.

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The Contented Classes – When Will They Rebel?

For all the rhetoric and all the charities regarding America’s children, the U.S. stands at the very bottom of western nations and some other countries as well, in terms of youth well-being. The U.S.’s exceptionalism is clearest in its cruelty to children. The U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate of comparable OECD countries. Not only that, but 2.5 million American children are homeless and 16.2 million children “lack the means to get enough nutritious food on a regular basis.”

The shamelessness continues as the youngsters increase in age. The Trump regime is cutting the SNAP food program for poor kids. In 2018, fewer children were enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP than in 2017. To see just how bad Trump’s war on poor American children is getting, go to the web sites of the Children’s Defense Fund (https://www.childrensdefense.org/) and the Children’s Advocacy Center (http://www.caichildlaw.org/).

Trump brags about a robust economy—still, however, rooted in exploitation of the poor and reckless Wall Street speculation with people’s savings.

Trump’s pompous promises during his presidential campaign have proved to be a cowardly distraction. He claimed he would take on the drug companies and their price gouging. The hyper-profiteering pharmaceutical goliaths are quietly laughing at him. Worse, Trump continues their tax credits  and allows them to use new drugs developed with taxpayer money through the National Institute of Health free of charge—no royalties. Even though he talks tough, Trump lets these companies sell imported medicines manufactured in China and India with inadequate FDA inspections of foreign plants.

Torrents of Trump tweets somehow overlooked H.P. Acthar Gel, a drug produced by Mallinckrodt to treat a rare infant seizure disorder, which increased in price from $40 per vial to $39,000 per vial! Other drug prices are booming cruelly upward, while Trump blusters, but fails to deliver on his campaign promises.

For years our country’s political and corporate rulers have saddled college students with breathtaking debt and interest rates. Student debt is now at $1.5 trillion. Both corporations and the federal government are profiting off of America’s young. In no other western country is this allowed, with most nations offering tuition-free higher education.

On May 2, 2019, The New York Times featured an article titled, “Tuition or Dinner? Nearly Half of College Students Surveyed in a New Report Are Going Hungry.”

When you read the stories of impoverished students, squeezed in all directions, you’d think they came out of third-world favelas. At the City University of New York (CUNY), forty eight percent of students had been food insecure in the past 30 days.

Kassandra Montes, a senior at Lehman College, lives in a Harlem homeless shelter. Montes  “works two part-time jobs and budgets only $15 per week for food… [She] usually skips breakfast in order to make sure that her 4-year-old son is eating regularly.” Montes said: “I feel like I’m slowly sinking as I’m trying to grow.”

When you don’t have a living wage, have to pay high tuition, are mired in debt, and live in rent-gouging cities, where do you go? Increasingly, you go to the community college or college food pantry. In a nation whose president and Congress in one year give tens of billions of dollars to the Pentagon more than the generals asked for, it is unconscionable that students must rely on leftover food from dining halls and catered events, SNAP benefits, and whatever food pantries can assemble.

The CUNY pantries are such a fixture in these desperate times that they are now a stop on freshman orientation tours.

As long as we’re speaking of shame, what about those millions of middle and upper middle class informed, concerned bystanders. They’re all over America trading “tsk tsks” over coffee or other social encounters. They express dismay, disgust, and denunciations at each outrage from giant corporations’ abuses, to the White House and the Congress’ failings. They are particularly numerous in University towns. They know but they do not do. They are unorganized, know it, keep grumbling, and still fail to start the mobilization in Congressional Districts of likeminded citizens to hold their Senators and Representatives accountable.

For Congress, the smallest yet most powerful branch of government, whose members names we know, can turn poverty and other injustices around and help provide a better life for so many Americans. These informed, concerned people easily number over 1 percent of the population. They can galvanize a supporting majority of voters on key, long-overdue redirections for justice. Redirections that were mostly established in Western Europe decades ago (For more details, see my paperback, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier than We Think).

These informed, concerned people—who don’t have to worry about a living wage, not having health insurance, being gouged by payday loans, and having no savings—were called “the contented classes” in The Culture of Contentment, a book by the late progressive Harvard economist John Kenneth Gailbraith. His main point—until the contented classes wake up and organize for change, history has shown, our country will continue to slide in the wrong direction. He said all this before climate disruption, massive money-corrupting politics, and the corporate crime wave had reached anywhere near their present destructive levels.

The question to be asked: Who among the contented classes will unfurl the flag of rebellion against the plutocrats and the autocrats? It can be launched almost anywhere they please. A revolution can start the moment they decide to prioritize the most marginalized people in this country over their comfort.

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Trump vs. Congress and Our Constitution

Donald Trump is the most impeachable president in American history. Many Democrats, however, are running away from the word “impeachment” for tactical political reasons. Some Democrats say they have a sworn duty under the Constitution to present articles of impeachment for a vote in the House of Representatives, regardless of the refusal by the Republican controlled Senate to hold a trial.

Interestingly, when Republicans in the House impeached President Bill Clinton in 1998, he was more popular in polls than Donald Trump is now. The Republican controlled Senate, however, failed to get the two-thirds vote needed to remove President Clinton from office. Clinton’s offenses – lying under oath and obstruction of justice pale in comparison to the many mega offenses of Trump.

The six major House Committees are investigating issues ranging from his tax returns and business dealings to the documented serial obstructions of justice documented in the Mueller Report. As these investigations move well beyond what is already on the public record and more Americans learn their contents, there will be more than enough to substantiate numerous articles of impeachment. Plus a new one of Trump’s own creation— the wholesale, broadside obstruction of all these Congressional investigations, defying subpoenas for sworn testimony and documents, amounting to a gigantic contempt of Congress – itself an impeachable offense.

Trump is trying to bar key witnesses from testifying. He is suing his own accounting firm and Deutsche Bank to shield his sordid business relationships and potential tax violations.

I’ll bet he’s never even read our Constitution – he says out loud that whatever Congress does on impeachment, the Supreme Court will rescue him. Donald, when it comes to Congressional impeachment and conviction, the decision by Congress is final.

The House Democrats can strengthen their case with the American people by connecting impeachable offenses with actions that endanger the lives, health, and economic well-being of adults and children.

For starters, Trump and his henchmen have brazenly, openly, and defiantly refused to faithfully execute the laws of the land as required in Article 2, section 3 of the Constitution. By not enforcing the law, he has opened the floodgates for deadly emissions from various industries that are getting into the lungs of millions of Americans. By allowing more pollution into water, air, food, and workplaces of the American people by immobilizing, if not firing the federal cops on the corporate crime beat, pulling back on existing enforcement, eliminating critical safeguards on the books, and cutting enforcement budgets, he has jeopardized the health of millions of Americans. This is a gift to the lethal coal industry, the reckless drug industry, the chemical pesticide companies, the oil, gas and nuclear industries and all those extractive companies licking their chops to plunder more of our beautiful public lands such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and our national forests.

Physicians have pleaded with the Trumpsters to protect the vulnerable infants and children from toxics and micro-particulates in the air and water. “Hell no,” cry his craven gangsters who were chosen to run our health and safety agencies precisely because they want to run them into the ground.

For the first time ever, life expectancy in the United States is declining. This lawlessness is way beyond what should be excused by “prosecutorial discretion.” Trump’s defiant wholesale repeal of the rule of law begs for impeachment.

Trump’s impeachable brew is deep, hot, and deadly. He violates the constitution, federal statutes, and international treaties with his war crimes anywhere he wants to conduct them around the world. John Bolton, the unconfirmed national security advisor and Mike Pompeo, his secretary of state, are looking for new wars – whether in Iran or Venezuela. Bolton and Pompeo are prime examples of unindicted war criminals.

These men violently threaten regimes, except those run by Trump’s favorite dictators (he says he’s “fallen in love” with North Korea’s Kim), as if there are no laws whatsoever to restrain their dangerous missions. The fact that previous Presidents like Clinton, the two Bushes, and Obama committed war crimes does not exonerate Trump. Congress is also culpable. It has to stop the lawless foreign/military policies of Empire that eventually will boomerang and undermine our nation’s national security. It has already produced devastating costs in casualties and dollars.

Impeachable offenses include violating Article I, section 8 by conducting wars of choice without a Congressional declaration and other provision of the Constitution (Article 1 section 9 clause 7) and statutes banning spending tax monies without Congressional appropriation. Consider the support of the war on Yemen and bombing of Syria with immense civilian destruction as illustrations.

This is the road to tyranny and the de facto overthrow of our “constitutional order.”

Then there are Trump’s campaign finance violations, his tax frauds, and his threats to use blanket pardons of Trump associates who are now convicted criminals. Not to mention Trump’s “indifference to wrongdoing,” in the words of Charles Black, the late, eminent constitutional scholar. Such “indifference” Black declared “may be in effect equivalent to ratification of wrongdoing.”

Another standard for impeachment is the widely quoted criterion by Alexander Hamilton – behavior that constitutes “abuse or violation of some public trust.” How about Trump’s over ten thousand recorded lies or misleading fabrications? How about his bigotry, misogyny and lying about his sexual misconducts and payoffs? How about Trump allowing the enrichment of his businesses (which he refused to sell or put into a blind trust) by foreign governments spending lavishly at his hotels and other properties, in violation of our Constitution’s emoluments clause?

Our Founders condemned behavior, shorn of minimal honor and integrity that brings the Office of the Presidency into disrepute and undercuts the legitimacy of the U.S. government or the ability of the government to function.

Recall the five week shutdown of the U.S. government by our pouting juvenile president over not getting his porous border wall funded. Trump’s actions shut down critical, life-saving governmental services. That tantrum alone should be an impeachable offense.

The Congress was handed a mass of evidence by the Mueller Report and Congressional hearings are likely to find this evidence will provide a solid basis for impeachment. Bear in mind, Mueller decided he couldn’t recommend any criminal enforcement due to his hands being tied by a Justice Department “opinion,” not a law, that sitting Presidents could not be criminally indicted. Instead he punted his damning report to Congress with such statements as “Our investigation found multiple acts by the president that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.” Over a dozen listed acts, to be specific.

As the laws start catching up with Trump, he will resort to raucous mass rallies where he will warn of violence in the streets, as he did during his campaign in 2016 when discussing his potential loss. He will start military actions, which explains why he had to pressure former generals, Mattis and Kelly, to resign from the Department of Defense and White House. Trump doesn’t like generals who advocate restraint.

Trump himself has said that he will be secure so long as the police and military are with him. Get ready for a fast-approaching major constitutional crisis with Congress and adherents of the rule of law.

Our lying, lawless President is about to face the laws of the land, backed by our Constitution. It is time for Republicans to start looking at themselves in the mirror of history. And it is time for all Americans to challenge their elected officials to stand tall and uphold the rule of law.

Safeguarding our democracy requires nothing less. For more information on impeachment, listen to my interview with scholar Alan Hirsch, author of Impeaching the President: Past Present and Future: https://ralphnaderradiohour.com/impeaching-the-president/

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Boeing Mismanagers Forfeit Your Pay and Resign: An Open Letter to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg

Dennis A. Muilenburg
Chairman, President, and
Chief Executive Officer
The Boeing Company
100 North Riverside
Chicago, IL 60606

Dear Mr. Muilenburg:

On April 4, 2019 you somewhat belatedly released a statement that “We at Boeing are sorry for the lives lost in the recent 737 MAX accidents.” You added that a preliminary investigation made it “apparent that in both flights” the MCAS “activated in response to erroneous angle of attack information.”

Your acknowledgement of the problems with the 737 MAX somehow escaped inclusion in your messages to shareholders, the capital markets, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. It is now stunningly clear that your overly optimistic outlook on January 20, 2019 – after the Indonesian Lion Air crash – was misleading. Whatever the public learns, day after day about the troubles of your company, it is still far less than what Boeing knows will come out day by day, and not just about the deadly design of the 737 MAX.

Your narrow-body passenger aircraft – namely, the long series of 737’s that began in the nineteen sixties was past its prime. How long could Boeing avoid making the investment needed to produce a “clean-sheet” aircraft and, instead, in the words of Bloomberg Businessweek “push an aging design beyond its limits?” Answer: As long as Boeing could get away with it and keep necessary pilot training and other costs low for the airlines as a sales incentive.

To compete with the Airbus A320neo, Boeing equipped the 737 MAX with larger engines tilted more forward and upward on the wings than prior 737’s. Thus began the trail of criminal negligence that will implicate the company and its executives. The larger engines changed the center of gravity and the plane’s aerodynamics. Boeing management was on a fast track and ignored warnings by its own engineers, not to mention scores of other technical aerospace people outside the company.

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software fix or patch with all its glitches and miscues is now a historic example of a grave failure of Boeing management. Yet, you insist the 737 MAX is still safe and some alteration of the MCAS and other pilot advisories will make the aircraft airworthy. Aircrafts should be stall-proof, not stall-prone. Trying to shift the burden onto the pilots for any vast numbers of failure modes beyond the software’s predictability is scurrilous. The Boeing 737 MAX must never be permitted to fly again – it has an inherent aerodynamic design defect. Sell your Boeing 737NG instead.

No matter your previous safety record of the 737 series, Boeing doesn’t get one, two, or more crashes that are preventable by adopting long-established aeronautical knowledge and practices. You are on the highest level of notice not to add to your already extraordinary record of criminally negligent decisions and inactions. Result – 346 innocent people lost their lives.

Boeing management’s behavior must be seen in the context of Boeing’s use of its earned capital. Did you use the $30 billion surplus from 2009 to 2017 to reinvest in R&D, in new narrow-body passenger aircraft?  Or did you, instead, essentially burn this surplus with self-serving stock buybacks of $30 billion in that period? Boeing is one of the companies that MarketWatch labelled as “Five companies that spent lavishly on stock buybacks while pension funding lagged.”

Incredibly, your buybacks of $9.24 billion in 2017 comprised 109% of annual earnings. As you know, stock buybacks do not create any jobs. They improve the metrics for the executive compensation packages of top Boeing bosses.

To make your management recklessly worse, in December 2018 you arranged for your rubberstamp Board of Directors to approve $20 billion more in buybacks now placed on pause.

Then, after the Indonesian crash, came the second software-bomb that took away control from the pilots and brought down Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, taking the lives of 156 passengers and crew. At the time, you were way overdue with your new software allegedly addressing the avoidable risks associated with the notorious 737 MAX.

Don’t you see some inverted priorities here? Don’t you see how you should have invested in producing better aircraft? Instead, your top management was inebriated with the prospect of higher stock values, and higher profits by keeping your costs lower with that “aging design” of the Boeing 737s. You guessed wrong – big time for your passengers as well as for your company.

Boeing is in additional trouble that reflects poor management. On March 22, 2019, the Washington Post reported that NASA’s Administrator, Jim Bridenstine said “the agency is considering sidelining the massive rocket Boeing is building because of how far behind schedule it is.”

And now, the agency is about to announce another major delay in the high-profile spacecraft Boeing is building to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

Then on April 21, 2019, the New York Times in a lengthy front-page story, based on “internal emails, corporate documents and federal records, as well as interviews with more than a dozen current and former employees,” reported that your South Carolina factory, which produces the 787 Dreamliner, “has been plagued by shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety.”

It is not as if you are receiving anything but top dollar payments for these military (the Air Force tanker) and government contracts. You overpay yourself at over $23 million in 2018, which comes to about $12,000 an hour!

In the midst of these accusations, whistleblower lawsuits, alleged retaliations by management, the Times reports your pace of production “has quickened” and that you are eliminating “about a hundred quality control positions in North Charleston [South Carolina].” Why?

Big corporations are run like top-down dictatorships where the hired hands determine their own pay and strip their shareholder owners of necessary powers of governance. Your Board of Directors should disclose what you told them about the 737 MAX and when they knew it.

Already, corporate crime specialists are making the case for you and other top Boeing managers, having refused to listen to the warnings of your conscientious engineers, regarding the redesign of the 737 MAX, to face criminal prosecution. Note BP pleading guilty in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to eleven counts of manslaughter in 2013.

Glass Lewis urges removal of Boeing audit committee head Lawrence Kellner for “failing to foresee safety risks with the 737 MAX aircraft,” reported the Financial Times, on April 16, 2019.

Consider, in addition, the statement of two Harvard scholars—Leonard J. Marcus and Eric J. McNulty, (authors of the forthcoming book, You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most).

“Of course, if Boeing did not act in good faith in deploying the 737 Max and the Justice Department’s investigation discovers Boeing cut corners or attempted to avoid proper regulatory reviews of the modifications to the aircraft, Muilenburg and any other executives involved should resign immediately. Too many families, indeed communities, depend on the continued viability of Boeing.”

These preconditions have already been disclosed and are evidentially based. Your mismanagement is replete with documentation. Management was criminally negligent, 346 lives of passengers and crew were lost. You and your team should forfeit your compensation and should resign forthwith.

All concerned with aviation safety should have your public response.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

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Children’s Moral Power Can Challenge Corporate Power on Climate Crisis

The famous anthropologist, Margaret Mead, once said to me that children have a distinct moral authority to change some of their parents’ habits or opinions. She gave use of seat belts and smoking cigarettes as examples.

Indeed, most of us know instances when sons and daughters have looked into the eyes of their fathers and mothers and urged them to wear their seatbelts or stop smoking. They say in their own plaintive way that they want mommy and daddy around for them. Many mothers and fathers have had such experiences.

Many parents and corporate executives are doing slow motion dances round global climate disruptions, despite the brutally visual and scientific evidence of our climate crisis. The rising tide of worldwide protests in recent months by young students cutting classes to shake up their elders should be a wakeup call and a sign of more activism on the horizon. Earth Day on April 22nd should give them another visible platform.

Last year the Global Youth Climate Strike manifested itself in Sweden, where it was started by a then fifteen year old teenager, Greta Thunberg. Every Friday she stood in silent protest outside the historic Swedish Parliament in Stockholm.

On March 15, an estimated 150,000 European students left school to protest. In Sweden, Germany, France, Britain, and other countries, these youngsters admonished adults, who have the power to urgently diminish greenhouse gases by cutting the use of coal, oil, and gas, and expanding the use of renewables and energy conservation.

In India, demonstrations were about the suffocating air pollution. In South Africa, protestors spoke about the worsening droughts.

At a rally in Washington, DC, eight year old Havana Chapman-Edwards told protestors at the U.S. Capitol: “Today we are telling the truth and we do not take no for an answer,” according to the New York Times.

Protestors already see the truth in the South Pacific’s rising sea levels and the Arctic Circle’s melting ice.

These youngsters can argue their case with facts and figures, with stories of record-setting fires, floods, tornados, and hurricanes and species extinctions. But they are viscerally feeling the impact of climate crisis and fearing for their lives before reaching middle age.

As University of Maryland Professor Dana Fisher told the Times, children are afraid of the tumultuous world they will inherit. Their elders are not protecting them.

Greta, the emerging spokesperson for this escalating youth agitation put it wisely: “There is a crisis in front of us that we will have to live with for all our lives, our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations.” The movement has much more room to grow, but we are depending on them developing a strong, organized voice, while retaining their individual spontaneity.

Not surprisingly, climate deniers took to social media to falsely declare that environmental groups were using the students. In fact, this outburst was quite commendably a result of students taking what they’ve learned seriously.

In England, students are insisting their government declare a state of emergency to highlight the severity of the threat. They want more material on global warming in their national school curriculum.

Some teachers and principals in the U.K. don’t like students missing classes and are trying to block or penalize those who do. But many school leaders are approving such brief intermissions to help save the planet. Sixteen year old Bonnie Morely decried the politicians for being “asleep at the wheel. We have to wake them up and I think thousands of kids on the streets will do just that.”

How about millions of them! Their numbers are growing, with some demonstrations reaching tens of thousands. In France, over 2 million students signed petitions. Some politicians are chiding them about the costs of their demands, as if energy pollution and toxic waste are not costly to people, as if the costs of violent weather patterns aren’t costing huge sums of money and lives already.

In Brussels, Belgium, 18 year old Liam pointed to “a growing momentum,” but he told a Times reporter maybe it should become more disruptive to attain more attention. “Maybe we should change the timing of the protests to rush hour.”

The youngsters understand the problem and want solutions now to counter the current omnicidal lethargy. Although some companies get it—such as the sterling Patagonia and Interface corporations in the U.S.—most large companies either are resisting, engaging in “greenwashing” lip service, or taking the smallest of steps for public relations purposes.

The people of our tormented Planet must pull together as if there was an impending invasion from Mars. Fortunately, the urgent pathways to be pursued are full of favorable economic efficiencies and good jobs. Think of solar energy installations, weatherizing homes and other buildings, modern public transportation, grants to speed up climate chaos mitigation, and economies moving to net or even negative carbon impact. The known remedial technology is far ahead of its mandated applications by sluggish legislators and their myopic corporate paymasters.

Children can and do communicate with each other often and freely around their community, country, and globe. The faster trivial text messages are replaced by texts calling for a relentless call to action, the better. Students taking to the streets and taking on legislators will advance the fight for a safer planet and a more just society.

Stay tuned! This is only the beginning of the world’s children raising adults to a maturity that faces the awful, onrushing realities.

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Boeing’s Homicides Will Give Way to Safety Reforms if Flyers Organize

To understand the enormity of the Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes (Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian Airlines 302) that took a combined total of 346 lives, it is useful to look at past events and anticipate future possible problems.

In 2011, Boeing executives wanted to start a “clean sheet” new narrow body air passenger plane to replace its old 737 design from the nineteen sixties. Shortly thereafter, Boeing’s bosses panicked when American Airlines put in a large order for the competitive Airbus A320neo.  Boeing shelved the new design and rushed to put out the 737 Max that, in Business Week’s words, was “pushing an ageing design past its limits.” The company raised the 737 Max landing gear and attached larger, slightly more fuel efficient engines angled higher and more forward on the wings. Such a configuration changed the aerodynamics and made the plane more prone to stall (see attached article: https://www.aviationcv.com/aviation-blog/2019/boeing-canceling-737-max).

This put Boeing’s management in a quandary. Their sales pitch to the airlines was that the 737 Max only received an “amended” certification from the FAA. That it did not have to be included in more pilot training, simulators, and detailed in the flight manuals. The airlines could save money and would be more likely to buy the Boeing 737 Max.

Boeing engineers were worried. They knew better. But the managers ordered software to address the stall problem without even telling the pilots or most of the airlines. Using only one operating sensor (Airbus A320neo has three sensors), an optional warning light and indicator, Boeing set the stage for misfiring sensors that overcame pilot efforts to control the planes from their nose-down death dive.

These fixes or patches would not have been used were the new 737’s aerodynamics the same as the previous 737 models. Step by step, Boeing’s criminal negligence, driven by a race to make profits, worsened. Before and after the fatal crashes, Boeing did not reveal, did not warn, did not train, and did not address the basic defective aerodynamic design. It gagged everyone that it could.  Boeing still insists that the 737 Max is safe and is building two a day, while pushing to end the grounding.

Reacting to all these documented derelictions, a flurry of investigations is underway. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General, Calvin L. Scovel III, is investigating the hapless, captive FAA that has delegated to Boeing important FAA statutory and regulatory duties. The Justice Department and FBI have opened a criminal probe, with an active grand jury. The National Transportation Safety Board, long the hair shirt of the FAA, is investigating. As are two Senate and House Committees. Foreign governments are investigating, as surely are the giant insurance companies who are on the hook. This all sounds encouraging, but we’ve seen such initiatives pull back before.

This time, however, the outrageous corner-cutting and suppression of engineering dissent, within both Boeing and the FAA (there were reported “heated discussions”) produced a worst case scenario. So, Boeing is working overtime with its legions of Washington lobbyists, its New York P.R. firm, its continued campaign contributions to some 330 Members of Congress. The airlines and pilots’ union chiefs (but not some angry pilots) are staying mum, scared into silence due to contracts and jobs, waiting for the Boeing 737 Max planes to fly again.

BUT THE BOEING 737 MAX MUST NOT BE ALLOWED TO FLY AGAIN. Pushing new software that will allow Boeing to blame the pilots is a dangerous maneuver. Saying that U.S. pilots, many of whom are ex-Air Force, are more experienced in reacting to a sudden wildly gyrating aircraft (consider the F-16 diving and swooping) than many foreign airline pilots only trained by civil aviation, opens a can of worms from cancellation of 737 Max orders  to indignation from foreign airlines and pilots. It also displays an aversion to human-factors engineering with a vast number of avoidable failure modes not properly envisioned by Boeing’s software patches.

The overriding problem is the basic unstable design of the 737 Max. An aircraft has to be stall proof not stall prone. An aircraft manufacturer like Boeing, notwithstanding its past safety record, is not entitled to more aircraft disasters that are preventable by following long-established aeronautical engineering practices and standards.

With 5,000 Max orders at stake, the unfolding criminal investigation may move the case from criminal negligence to evidence of knowing and willful behavior amounting to corporate homicide involving Boeing officials. Boeing better cut its losses by going back to the drawing boards. That would mean scrapping the 737 Max 8 designs, with its risk of more software time bombs, safely upgrading the existing 737-800 with amenities and discounts for its airline carrier customers and moving ahead with its early decision to design a new plane to compete with Airbus’s model, which does not have the 737 Max’s design problem.

Meanwhile, airline passengers should pay attention to Senator Richard Blumenthal’s interest in forthcoming legislation to bring the regulatory power back into the FAA. Senator Blumenthal also intends to reintroduce his legislation to criminalize business concealment of imminent risks that their products and services pose to innocent consumers and workers (the “Hide No Harm Act”).

What of the near future? Airline passengers should organize a consumer boycott of the Boeing 737 Max 8 to avoid having to fly on these planes in the coming decade. Once Boeing realizes that this brand has a deep marketing stigma, it may move more quickly to the drawing boards, so as to not alienate airline carriers.

Much more information will come out in the coming months. Much more. The NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS), which receives incident reports from pilots, air traffic controllers, dispatchers, cabin crew, maintenance technicians, and others, is buzzing, as is the FlyersRights.org website. Other countries, such as France, have tougher criminal statutes for such corporate crime than the U.S. does. The increasing emergence of whistle-blowers from Boeing, the FAA and, other institutions is inevitable.

Not to mention, the information that will come out of the civil litigation against this killer mass tort disaster. And of course the relentless reporting of newspapers such as the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Washington Post, and AP, among others will continue to shed light on Boeings misdeeds and the FAA’s deficiencies.

Boeing executives should reject the advice from the reassuring, monetized minds of Wall Street stock analysts saying you can easily absorb the $2 billion cost and move on. Boeing, let your engineers and scientists be free to exert their “professional options for revisions” to save your company from the ruinous road you are presently upon.

Respect those who perished at your hand and their grieving families.

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