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April 23, 2013

Why isn't the owner of the West, Texas fertilizer plant in jail?

His ignoring pretty much every safety regulation resulted in more deaths than the Boston bombers. Yet he remains free. America doesn't seem to care much about workplace fatalities. Perhaps if the plant owner were a Muslim, an immigrant, or gay something would have been done. Mike Elk: The Texas fertilizer plant explosion cannot be forgotten - The Washington Post
On Friday, as cable news networks sought desperately to fill airtime while waiting for the latest news in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, a friend asked me, “How come there’s no manhunt for the owner of the Texas factory, which did far more damage than the Boston bombers?” He was right to wonder. The explosion of the West Fertilizer Co. plant on April 17 in West, Tex., killed 14 people, injured more than 160 and destroyed dozens of buildings. Yet unlike the tragedy in Boston, the Texas plant explosion began to vanish from cable TV less than 36 hours after it occurred. Marquee correspondents like Anderson Cooper were pulled out of West and sent back to Boston, and little airtime was spared for updates from Texas, even as many town residents remained missing. The networks seemed to decide covering two big stories was covering one too many, as if we journalists can’t chew gum and walk at the same time. The media’s neglect has greatly increased the danger that the explosion will quickly be forgotten, to the detriment of U.S. workers. The coverage so far of the Texas disaster is a far cry from the gold bar of workplace safety reporting, set by Walter Cronkite in 1968 following the Farmington, W.Va., mine explosion, in which 78 miners were killed. Then, Cronkite camped out for four days in a field in the middle of winter and provided in-depth stories on the mine explosion and its aftermath. Cronkite’s impassioned journalism is widely credited by workplace safety advocates as inspiring the passage of the first federal mine safety legislation: the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act. Since the legislation was enacted, the number of coal mining accidents have plummeted from 311 in 1968 to just 19 in 2012.

April 22, 2013

9 of the 10 wealthiest Americans spend billions attacking teachers and public school

This is what class warfare looks like. The absolute richest people in America spending huge chunks of money to destroy public schools, replace teachers with automatons, and break the unions. Class Warfare | Edwize
The wealthiest American is Bill Gates, who in recent months has attacked teacher tenure, teacher pay schedules, seniority layoffs and smaller class sizes. The Gates Foundation is now actively pursuing those regressive goals: it provided significant resources to promoting the anti-teacher, anti-union propaganda movie “Waiting for Superman.” (Gates himself appeared in “Waiting for Superman” as an ‘educational expert.’) Since the second wealthiest American, Warren Buffet, does his philanthropy through the Gates Foundation, he is effectively aligned with Gates’ educational agenda. Four of the ten wealthiest Americans are from the Walton family, the owners of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is the leading violator of child labor laws in the United States and the most obstinately anti-union of American corporations. The Walton Family foundation has involved itself in education, with the goal of eviscerating the American union movement by undermining one of its strongest pillars — teacher unions. Walton has supported campaigns to institute vouchers, promoted “Waiting for Superman” and provided financial support to anti-union forces within the charter school movement and to anti-teacher organizations such as Michelle Rhee’s Orwellian named “Students First” and New York’s “Education Reform Now.” Two of the ten wealthiest Americans are the Koch brothers, Charles and David Koch, who came to public attention first as the main financiers of the far right Tea Party movement and then as the bankrollers of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and his efforts to destroy his state’s public sector unions — especially its teacher unions. Koch Industries is one of the leading corporate polluters in the US, and the Kochs fund organizations that claim “global warming” is a hoax. Forbes’ tenth wealthiest American is New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has campaigned over the last year for an end to seniority layoffs and the transformation of teaching into de facto at will employment, in which teachers can be fired for any reason, an end to teacher tenure and a radical diminishment of teacher pensions and health care. Only one of Forbes’ ten wealthiest Americans is not engaged in active political warfare against public school teachers and teacher unions.