American racism, anti-racism and NASCAR car racing

This video from California in the USA says about itself:

ILWU Juneteenth Voices Speak Out At Port Of Oakland

Participants in the ILWU Juneteenth rallies and marches spoke out about the police terror, systemic racism and the role of the unions in this fight.

This took place on June 19, 2020 at the Port of Oakland where the first rally took place.

Bubba Wallace (left) wore a T-shirt referring to the death of George Floyd when singing the national anthem before a race on June 6. AFP photo

This photo shows Bubba Wallace (left) wearing a T-shirt referring to the deaths by police brutality of George Floyd, Eric Garner and others, when singing the national anthem before a NASCAR race on June 6.

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Black Nascar driver faces death threat on race track

The US American motorsport organization Nascar is investigating the discovery of a noose in the garage box of the only black driver in the top competition yesterday at the Talladega circuit in the American state of Alabama.

The death threat against Budda Wallace, 26, is believed to be related to the ban on displaying the Confederate flag on and around Nascar race tracks. This was instituted after the death of black American George Floyd in Minneapolis and at Wallace’s insistence.

During the Civil War (1861-1865), the Confederate flag was the flag of the Southern states that fought to keep slavery. Today, many see it as a symbol of racism, although proponents say it is a southern heritage.

Wallace is supported by LeBron James

Wallace said he won’t be put off. “This makes me incredibly sad and painfully demonstrates that we have a long way to go in the fight against racism,” said Wallace. “I stand firm for what I believe in.” …

On Twitter, basketball star LeBron James expresses support for Wallace.

Before the Nascar race in Talladega, an airplane flew over the track with a banner of the Confederate flag. On Saturdays and Sundays cars could be seen around the circuit carrying the flag.

The race was canceled after a delay due to severe weather.

TRUMP SMEARS NASCAR’S ONLY BLACK DRIVER Trump inexplicably asked NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace to apologize to other drivers for a “hoax” about a noose found in his garage. The FBI determined last month that Wallace, who is Black and successfully lobbied NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events, was not targeted for a racist attack after a crew member found the noose hanging from a garage handle at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway. However, authorities made no accusations about a “hoax,” and Wallace had to defend himself against such baseless claims. [HuffPost]

CRIMINAL CHARGES FOR AMY COOPER IN RACIST CENTRAL PARK CLAIM A white woman who called police and falsely accused an African American man of threatening her life after he asked her to leash her dog in New York’s Central Park is being criminally charged over the incident, Manhattan’s district attorney said. Amy Cooper, 41, whose actions on May 25 were recorded on a video that went viral and touched off discussions about white privilege, is being charged with filing a false report, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail. Cooper is expected to be arraigned on Oct. 14. [Reuters]

Jail killer Elon Musk, his workers say

This video from the USA says about itself:

Jail Tesla Billionaire Elon Musk & Defend Health & Safety: Workers Speak Out On 4/16/20 At Tesla

Workers and a Tesla worker spoke out about the illegal start-up of Elon Musk‘s Tesla plant in Fremont, California on 5/16/20. Owner Elon Musk illegally started mass production at the plant despite the Alameda county Shelter In Place law. Both the City of Fremont as well as Governor Gavin Newsom refuse to enforce the law and also have an inspection by Cal-OSHA to see what the conditions are in the plant. The Fremont police were supposedly checking on safety at the plant yet they have no health and safety training.

Tesla worker Gabriel Carlos spoke out about his concerns on the plant safety and also threats that he has received from the company if he did not return to work.

Speakers from UPWA also called for the hiring of 1,000 Cal-OSHA inspectors and the inspection of workplaces to protect the health and safety of workers, their families and the public. There are less than 200 OSHA inspectors in California and only 1 doctor and 1 nurse for California’s 18 million workers.

Speakers also called for the arrest of Elon Musk who has been backed up by President Trump who is greeting his defiance of the law.

Not just fellow billionaire Donald Trump backs Musk’s Russian roulette with his workers’ lives. So does the main neo-nazi internet site in the USA, the Daily Stormer.

Some Tesla factory employees say they’re being pressured to return to work: here.

Tesla reportedly failed to tell regulators about dozens of factory injuries, then claimed without evidence that regulators praised its record-keeping: here.

How Tesla and its doctor made sure injured employees didn’t get workers’ compensation: here.

Grimes’ mom blasts Elon Musk for “blaring” men’s rights “bulls**t on Twitter.”

Suzuki, Jeep cars pollution fraud scandal

This 23 September 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

Volkswagen‘s Mind Blowing Global Pollution Fraud

WOW: Volkswagen installed software to defraud emissions controls

Translated from Dutch NOS radio today:

Suzuki and Jeep fraudulent diesel cars must go back to the garage

Manufacturers of diesel cars Suzuki Vitara and Jeep Grand Cherokee must ensure that they are returned to the garage for a software update because of fraudulent software.

The two cars emit far more nitrogen than the manufacturer says, research by the National Road Traffic Agency (RDW) that has been investigating it for years, shows. The costs of the update are borne by Suzuki and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the parent company of Jeep.

Environment Minister Van Veldhoven says it is unacceptable that manufacturers use “unauthorized software strategies” to disguise too much emissions. She does not rule out that Suzuki and FCA will be prosecuted, but Van Veldhoven emphasizes that the public prosecution service will ultimately decide such a thing.

Similar cheating software has been found with the US American variant of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Last year FCA settled that case with the US authorities for 800 million dollars.

Owner must take action himself

The Dutch case concerns the Suzuki Vitara (Euro6b) and the Jeep Grand Cherokee (Euro5a). In the study, the RDW describes, eg, how a 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee suddenly releases three times more nitrogen when tested above 20 degrees. “This cannot be explained”, the researchers write.

By that they mean the presence of fraudulent software, which makes cars appear less polluting during tests than they actually are. The software must be removed by an update. The cars must be recalled for this.

If the manufacturer does not collect the cars, then the European license can be withdrawn. The RDW can decide to do this, because Suzuki and FCA have applied for emission approval for the models in the Netherlands.

The government also wants the owners of fraudulent diesel engines to be obliged to return their cars for an update. This is not yet the case, but this obligation already exists in Germany and Finland.

The government believes the current recall is less effective and wants the owners to take steps. The government still has to lay down this regulation by law.

In 2017, the RDW already found fraudulent software in the two car types. More in-depth research has since been carried out and it is now unquestionably clear that cars on the road are much more polluting than during the roller bench test.

See also here.

Corporate media support corporate car crook Ghosn

This 20 November 2018 video says about itself:

The fall of Carlos Ghosn: “he’s a greedy jerk”

It’s a fall from grace as brutal as is it is sudden.

Carlos Ghosn, the all-powerful boss of RenaultNissanMitsubishi, arrested as he got off his private jet in Tokyo on suspicion of tax fraud. The boss of the world’s biggest auto alliance is due to be out of a job before the end of the week leaving a sometimes uneasy partnership hanging in the balance. Ghosn had forged for himself a unique role as the invaluable conduit between the French and the Japanese ever since he came to the rescue nearly two decades of then-ailing Nissan.

Now, the Japanese, owners of the UK’s biggest car factory seem to have the stronger hand in what promises to be a battle royale to save the alliance. Already in presenting his excuses, their CEO has vowed never again to let one single man wield so much power.

… while France’s labour unions ask about the charges at hand and remind everyone of a salary estimated at 12 million euros last year for the man who made a reputation as a ruthless job-killer… a man who back in 2016 faced a shareholders’ revolt over his pay. Is a tragedy that’s squarely of Carlos Ghosn’s own making? If so, how should the French state – which owns a crucial 15-percent stake in Renault – react to the billions wiped out on the stock market by Ghosn’s alleged greed?

By James Cogan:

Carlos Ghosn, Julian Assange and the class justice of the New York Times

14 January 2020

On January 8, the New York Times ran an editorial all but endorsing last month’s move by former Nissan executive and multi-millionaire Carlos Ghosn to evade prosecution on charges of tax evasion and money laundering by absconding on bail and seeking refuge in Lebanon.

The Times openly conveyed its sympathy for the executive, who is now the subject of an Interpol alert for his arrest and extradition back to Japan to stand trial.

The headline of the editorial was “Carlos Ghosn, Victim or Villain?” It asserted: “Unresolved in all this is whether Mr. Ghosn is guilty of the crimes he was accused of in Japan and deserves to spend time in prison, or whether the Japanese legal system … meets international standards of justice.”

The Times cited Ghosn’s allegation that his prosecution is a “conspiracy” by Nissan and the Japanese government to “bring down” the corporate powerbroker, because he was allegedly pushing for the effective takeover of the Japanese-based auto conglomerate by its French-based partner Renault. Ghosn, it favorably observed, was a “master” of “high-stakes multinational industry, brutal corporate intrigue, extravagant compensation packages and complex international deals, both above and below the board.”

The Nissan executive, the Times conceded, “functioned at the margins of the law.” It nevertheless concluded that, as the “Japanese legal system is also on trial,” it “may be better for this saga to play out in the court of public opinion.”

Ghosn, the Times leaves no doubt, should be left alone and never be prosecuted. This echoed the line of an earlier editorial by the Wall Street Journal, which declared that it is “hard to blame him for fleeing Japan after his ill-treatment.”

The contrast with the New York Times’ attitude and editorial commentary regarding the now nine-year case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange could not be more striking.

In 2010, Assange took responsibility to ensure that leaks made by former American soldier Chelsea Manning saw the light of day. WikiLeaks published the “Collateral Murder” video and coordinated the publication of the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diary and the CableGate documents, which exposed, for judgement by the public opinion of the international working class, the extent of the war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan and the anti-democratic reality of US foreign policy.

The Times is prepared to take seriously Ghosn’s claim that he is the victim of a high-level conspiracy. In 2010, it gave no credence to the insistence by Julian Assange that an extradition warrant issued against him by Sweden, to answer “questions” over sexual assault allegations, was part of a conspiracy by the American government to slander his name, silence WikiLeaks and facilitate his rendition on to the US to face espionage charges.

The Times is sympathetic with Ghosn reneging on his bail terms in order to escape Japan and prosecution. In June 2012, when Julian Assange sought political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition, the Times was among the publications that portrayed his actions as an attempt to “evade justice” for sex offences.

The Times is more than prepared to condemn the Japanese legal system and imply Ghosn would be either pressured by mistreatment to plead guilty or face little more than a show trial with a pre-determined outcome.

But what of the WikiLeaks publisher and the mistreatment he has endured during a nine-year US-led vendetta?

Assange was declared guilty of espionage and “high-tech terrorism” in 2010 by the Obama administration. British courts disregarded the lack of any evidence to support the Swedish allegations and endorsed his extradition. While under the protection of political asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, he was denied access to medical care and arbitrarily detained inside the small building by the British government, on behalf of its American ally.

As is now known, Assange’s every word—including with his legal representatives—was being recorded by the security company ostensibly protecting the embassy and reported to the very American agencies seeking his prosecution. He was repeatedly vilified in the Times and the international media as everything from a rapist, to unhygienic and a narcissist, to a Russian agent—due to WikiLeaks’ entirely justified publication of leaks in 2016 that shed light on the right-wing, militarist presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

There is absolutely no possibility that Assange would receive a fair trial in the United States. The New York Times nevertheless welcomed his eviction from the Ecuadorian embassy in April 2019—itself the direct result of underhanded US pressure and payoffs—and the announcement by the Trump administration that it was seeking his extradition from the United Kingdom on the “indisputable crime” of conspiring with Manning to “steal” the leaked information.

The Department of Justice subsequently added 17 counts of espionage for publishing the leaks—charges that could no less be levelled against the publishers and editors of the Times and dozens of other newspapers.

Since publishing a few carefully worded comments on the danger to freedom of speech posed by the charges against Assange, the Times editorial column has maintained a virtual silence on the outrageous treatment to which he is being subjected.

The Times has not condemned Assange’s imprisonment and what UN official Nils Melzer has labelled his “psychological torture” in the maximum-security Belmarsh Prison in London. While it has taken the time to call for Japan’s pursuit of Ghosn to be abandoned, the Times, along with the rest of the American corporate media, is refusing to wage a campaign to demand that the Trump administration drop the espionage charges against Assange and allow the restoration of his personal freedom.

On display in the New York Times’ positions—toward Ghosn on the one hand, and Assange on the other—is the class-based “justice” defended by a mouthpiece of the ruling elite.

Assange openly set out to try and alert and educate ordinary people. He established WikiLeaks to be a means for whistleblowers to expose war crimes, diplomatic intrigues, corporate conspiracies and intelligence-police spying and violations of democratic rights.

Even though the Times published the Manning leaks in 2010 to boost its circulation and profits, it did not hesitate to join with the American government in its relentless campaign to destroy Assange and WikiLeaks and terrorize into silence all would-be future whistleblowers and genuine journalists. His pursuit of transparency and holding power to account went too far, triggering revolutionary upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt against US-backed regimes. The “newspaper of record” is complicit in the attempt to criminalize reporting the truth and exposing the crimes of the ruling class.

Ghosn, in contrast, served the ruling elite. He developed means, both “above and below the board,” to brutally restructure loss-making corporations, sack thousands of workers and slash wages and conditions, and revive profits and deliver billions of dollars in “shareholder return.” He impressed the rich and their media sycophants with obscene displays of personal wealth, such as staging a lavish wedding at the Palace of Versailles at which his guests dressed as 18th-century French aristocrats.

As far as the Times is concerned, such a figure should no more be pursued as a criminal than the corporate executives whose illegal financial operations generated immense profits but led to the 2008 economic meltdown, or the politicians who used lies about “weapons of mass destruction” to invade and devastate Iraq in pursuit of domination over the oil-rich Middle East.

Fraud suspect billionaire Ghosn’s miraculous Japanese escape

This 30 December 2019 video from Australia is called Carlos Ghosn, ex-Nissan boss, escapes custody and flees to Beirut | Auto Expert John Cadogan.

By Nick Beams:

Many unanswered questions in Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan

3 January 2020

The successful escape of former Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn from Japan, where he was facing four charges, two of which related to understating his pay by more than $80 million in the company’s financial statements, underscore the fact that the rich and super-rich inhabit a world above the law, supported by government and state institutions.

In his latest statement on his escape from the Japanese judicial system issued in Lebanon yesterday, Ghosn said: “It was I alone who organised my departure.”

However, according to the head of his own Japanese legal team Junichiro Hironaka: “A very large organisation must have acted to pull this off.”

Ghosn was arrested in November 2018 on charges arising from financial practices he engaged in as the head of Nissan and was being held on bail of almost $14 million awaiting trial. He had been forced to surrender three passports—Lebanese, Brazilian and French—but apparently had been able to keep a second French passport in order to meet a Japanese requirement that foreigners carry identification.

While the full details of his escape have yet to emerge, he was apparently able to leave Japan on a private jet from Osaka airport which went to Istanbul’s Ataturk airport after which it continued to Lebanon. Turkish police are reported to have opened an investigation into Ghosn’s transit because neither his entry nor his exit was registered.

Interpol has issued a “red notice” to Lebanon asking it to arrest Ghosn, with which it is highly unlikely to comply. According to an Interpol statement issued yesterday: “Each country decides for itself what legal value to give to a red notice within their borders.”

The circumstances of his escape, under conditions where he was one of the most well-known faces in Japan, where his every move was supposedly monitored by authorities, raise the question of how much assistance he had from state authorities in Turkey, Lebanon, France and possibly even from Japanese authorities.

Ghosn was arrested at Tokyo’s international airport on November 7, 2018 as the result of an internal power struggle within the Nissan auto company of which he was the chief executive and the chairman of a global car-making alliance involving the French firm Renault, Nissan and the Japanese firm Mitsubishi.

Ghosn had previously been hailed as a hero of the Japanese business world for his organisation of an alliance between Nissan and Renault at the end of the 1990s that had pulled the Japanese firm from the edge of bankruptcy. Initially working at Michelin, he became known at Renault as Le cost killer for his ruthless restructuring of the company.

Under the deal with Nissan, in which Renault acquired a 43 percent shareholding, he became Nissan’s chief operating officer in June 1999, organising the closure of five of the company’s plants and the axing of 21,000 jobs.

But with the continuing stagnation of the global economy in the aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2008, the entire auto industry has been confronting an intensified struggle for markets and the enormous capital costs associated with the production of electric cars and the use of artificial intelligence.

Reportedly under pressure from the French government, Ghosn was pushing for a closer integration of Renault and Nissan. But this move brought a conflict with other Nissan executives opposed to what they saw as a takeover of the company by Renault.

The opposition was led by Ghosn’s former ally at Nissan, later to become its chief executive, Hiroto Saikawa, who was himself removed from his post last September after an internal investigation revealed he had received what it said was improper stock-based performance compensation in 2013.

The conflict over the Renault merger was to lead to the bringing of charges against Ghosn. The head of the Nissan legal department, Hari Nada, began an investigation into Ghosn’s financial dealings and in the summer of 2018 entered a plea bargain deal with Japanese prosecutors that led to the arrest of Ghosn in November.

The main charges against Ghosn are that he falsified company statements by understating his pay by more than $80 million and using company assets for his own benefit. Such charges could only have been brought on the basis of insider knowledge provided by the highest levels of the Nissan company.

Ghosn has insisted that his pay and financial arrangements were known to the company’s board and executives.

In September last year, however, he agreed to pay $1 million to settle a fraud charge brought against him by the US Securities and Exchange Commission that alleged he hid more than $140 million of his pay. Ghosn neither admitted nor denied the charges.

Another charge is that he used a private asset management company during the 2008 financial crisis to transfer losses from a derivatives contract worth $16.7 million to Nissan.

He is also accused of transferring $14.7 million over four years from a Nissan subsidiary account to a Saudi friend’s company. Ghosn has said the payments were made for “legitimate and vitally important business services.”

Last April, further charges were brought when prosecutors claimed that he had diverted $5 million from Nissan to benefit companies with ties to his family. There are also accusations that nearly $20 million of Nissan money was spent on houses used by Ghosn in Beirut, Rio de Janeiro and Paris and there are questions about who paid for a lavish party organised at the Palais de Versailles in honour of his second wife Carole in 2016.

The Ghosn case brought a predictable class response in an editorial published in the Wall Street Journal. Describing the start of the Ghosn saga as “dubious”, it called for “Japan to reform its justice system and corporate governance so they are more appropriate for a modern-day free-market economy.”

In other words, corporate disputes must be kept in-house. Likewise, the appropriation of millions of dollars by the chief executives of the corporate world to finance their lavish lifestyles should be kept under wraps.

Around the world, however, millions of people, no doubt, will contrast the treatment of Ghosn, and the support he has received and continues to receive, with the situation confronting Julian Assange, whose very life is in danger as he languishes in London’s maximum-security Belmarsh prison.

Fraud suspect millionaire escapes in private plane

This 31 December 2019 Bloomberg video says about itself:

There were no signs of Carlos Ghosn at his house in an affluent Beirut neighborhood on Tuesday following the fallen automotive titan‘s escape from Japan. No security guards were present and the windows were open. A shop owner across the street said he didn’t think Ghosn was there, adding he didn’t know what had happened until he saw photographers outside the house. Bloomberg’s Dana Khraiche reports from Beirut on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

From AFP news agency, 31 December 2019:

Ghosn: A tycoon full of surprises

One of the most precipitous downfalls in corporate history

Tokyo: Former auto tycoon Carlos Ghosn, once-revered boss of three huge car companies, has masterminded an exit from Japan as stunning as his arrest that shocked the world more than a year ago.

The 65-year-old’s journey from one of the world’s best-known CEOs to a Japanese detention cell on financial misconduct charges was one of the most precipitous downfalls in corporate history.

And the man who once caught the media off guard by strolling out of his detention cell disguised as a workman has wrong-footed everyone again by leaving Japan for Lebanon, where he first arrived as a toddler.

Ghosn’s life was turned upside down on November 19, 2018 when Japanese prosecutors stormed his aircraft brandishing multiple accusations of financial crimes, and whisked him off to the Tokyo detention centre.

He languished there for more than 100 days until he was granted bail of nearly nine million dollars. In that time he lost his business empire: sacked from Japanese car giants Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors, he resigned from French manufacturer Renault.

Cost killer

Totally at ease among the champagne receptions of the world’s elite at Davos and on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival, Ghosn came to epitomise globalisation.

A polyglot and holder of three passports,

Brazilian, Lebanese, French

he wrote in an autobiography that “just as globalisation and identity describe Nissan, they also perfectly express my life”.

Born Carlos Ghosn Bichara in Brazil on March 9, 1954 to Lebanese parents, he moved as a very young boy back to Lebanon where he was educated in a multicultural Jesuit school by teachers from France, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

He completed his education in France, where he gained citizenship, and lived for many years in the United States.

At the age of 24, he was recruited by tyre firm Michelin where he embarked on a brilliant career and earned his nickname as a “cost killer”.

He moved to Renault in 1996, bringing a brutal early-rising work ethic to the French firm and again slashing costs wherever possible.

In 1999, he took a massive gamble on the struggling Nissan with a mandate to turn it around.

A self-confessed “inflexible” boss, he ordered a series of “sacrifices” – five factories closed, 20,000 jobs cut.

After a “honeymoon period when he was admired and seen as a hero”, his authoritarian methods began to grate, according to employees.

Ghosn himself said he did everything he could to ingratiate himself with Nissan.

“For the general shareholders meeting, I had practised bowing at 30 and 60 degrees. But I was there for one reason: to fix the company.”

Tensions mounted when he became head of Renault in 2005 and he added a third hat by becoming chairman of Mitsubishi Motors in 2017 – earning him millions of euros per year.

Lavish displays of wealth did not endear him to the Japanese, whose corporate bosses tend to be less well-compensated than their western counterparts.

In 2016, he threw a huge party at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, complete with actors dressed in period costume.

From the vast platters of fresh fruit at that reception to the rice-based diet at his detention centre, it was a head-spinning fall from grace.

In January, he gave AFP and a French newspaper his only foreign media interview during his detention, charging that refusal to grant him bail “would not be normal in any other democracy of the world”.

Ghosn is convinced he is the victim of a “plot” by Nissan executives to oust him and strenuously denies the charges he faces of under-reporting his salary and seeking to transfer personal investment losses to company books.

Unplanned path

“I won’t settle in one place. I will travel all over the world. I cannot conceive of spending all my time in just one country,” he said at the time.

“Life has a way of following its own unplanned path,” he once wrote.

But he could scarcely have imagined the route it would take over the past year.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

According to a Lebanese newspaper, Ghosn was in a private aircraft that came from [Japan and] Turkey. A Lebanese TV station reports that he entered the country on a French passport.

Detroit worker couldn’t afford $828 ambulance ride, dies

D'Andre Brown (Source: Facebook)

By Shannon Jones in the USA:

Co-workers say Detroit Fiat Chrysler worker died after being told to pay $800 for ambulance ride to hospital

27 November 2019

On Saturday, November 23, family, friends and co-workers paid their last respects to 29-year-old Detroit autoworker D’Andre Brown who died November 8 after leaving work complaining of chest pains.

The death of the young worker, employed at the Fiat Chrysler (FCA) Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, has left many unanswered questions. According to reports received by the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter, D’Andre worked on “C” crew and died of an apparent heart attack after seeking hospital treatment.

According to co-workers, several weeks ago Brown went to the plant’s medical office complaining of chest pains but was sent back to the assembly line. He returned on November 8 asking to be sent to the hospital but was told he have to pay $828 out of pocket for transport by an EMS vehicle. As another option he could sign a waiver and drive himself to the hospital, Brown was reportedly told. According to fellow workers, Brown drove himself to the hospital where he died shortly after. Later, a notice of his funeral was posted in the factory and on the United Auto Workers (UAW) Local 7 Facebook page.

The World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Wayne County Medical Examiner and the Michigan Occupational Health and Safety Administration (MIOSHA) seeking to obtain further details, including cause of death. Neither the UAW nor Fiat Chrysler have released any statement on this incident.

A worker pointed out that the $828 demanded by FCA for ambulance service was significantly more than the typical weekly paycheck for an in-progression or temporary worker. Whether earlier medical attention could have prevented Brown’s death is a question deserving serious further investigation. Brown’s death follows a pattern of union and management collusion to cover up job-related deaths in the auto plants to protect management from potential legal action.

That same day, a fire on the assembly line at the Jefferson North plant caused an evacuation of the facility. Although the burning vehicle in the plant had the potential to cause serious injuries, the UAW and FCA did not issue any public statements, and the news media did not even report the incident.

The murky circumstances surrounding the death of Brown recall the still unknown causes of the death of young autoworker Davion Rice, age 24, who was found dead in the bathroom at the Ford Sterling Axle plant north of Detroit in the early morning hours of September 13, 2018. According to reports, he had complained to co-workers of feeling ill.

An autopsy performed by the Macomb County Medical Examiner and obtained by the Autoworker Newsletter listed the cause of death as cardiac arrhythmia, possibly due to a genetic defect. It also found a patent foramen ovale, a hole, between the left and right atria of the heart. The report noted, however, that, “these findings don’t usually cause sudden death at this age.”

As in the case of Brown, the UAW and Ford management never issued any statement on the death of Davion Rice. No explanation was given why the young worker had not been given medical attention if he was feeling ill or how long he had been dead before management even noticed. Although not yet confirmed, reports from Ford workers received by the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter indicate the young worker may have hit his head on a piece of machinery as he left the assembly line.

The death of D’Andre Brown at Jefferson North also recalls the death of 41-year-old Lee Duncan, a team leader, who died at the plant on May 6, 2015. MIOSHA initially told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter it was not investigating the incident, saying Duncan’s death was due to unspecified “natural causes.” Workers in the plant were told he had a “heart attack.”

In fact, Duncan had been struck and killed by a vehicle while working on the assembly line. This fact was documented in subsequent MIOSHA findings. According to a report posted on MLive, “Duncan was working on a vehicle on the assembly line, which is on a moving conveyor belt. He was struck by a vehicle moving on the conveyor and thrown into a large toolbox where he received serious head trauma before falling to the floor. He died from traumatic brain injury.”

There is no innocent explanation for how this could be mistaken for “natural causes.” Apparently, management felt it could lie with impunity, confident that its paid stooges in the UAW would not contradict their assertions.

A token $7,000 fine was levied by MIOSHA over the incident but was appealed by Fiat Chrysler and later withdrawn by MIOSHA. The UAW posted a two-line note on Duncan’s death on its website one year later.

n December that same year, just before Christmas, a contract worker, David Scott Ford, was crushed to death at the Ford Kansas City Assembly plant while working to repair a conveyor. For its part, the UAW sided with management, claiming the deceased worker “was injured inside a restricted area.”

In another case, the UAW and management initially stonewalled the release of information about the death of 41-year-old electrician Ivan Bridgewater at Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville. An investigation later determined that Bridgewater died while attempting to repair a dock lock in a poorly lit area while working alone. A semi-trailer backed into the loading dock, which pinned him against a wall, crushing him.

Ford was eventually hit with token fines over the death, which it contested.

In all of these cases, joint UAW-management health and safety committees worked to cover up for management and present as little information as possible to workers. No serious penalties were ever assessed.

The experiences of workers confirm the allegations made in the lawsuit filed last week by General Motors (GM) against Fiat Chrysler. The lawsuit states, “The FCA Group bribery scheme also purchased efficiencies in handling potentially costly and disruptive labor grievances.” Citing the sentencing memorandum for Nancy Johnson, a top aide to former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell who negotiated the sellout 2015 UAW-FCA contract, the GM lawsuit noted, “‘Instead of zealously pursuing union grievances and health and safety issues, senior officials of the UAW sought to line their own pockets with money and things of value provided to them by Fiat Chrysler.’”

However, instead of demanding damages be paid to Fiat Chrysler workers, GM is demanding billions of dollars for its own bank accounts, complaining it should have been allowed to take full advantage of the same corrupt deal with the UAW. In reality, GM and Ford enjoy most if not all the advantages the UAW has granted FCA. This is shown in the new four-year labor agreements at GM and Ford that will close plants, drive out higher-paid experienced workers and replace them with an unlimited number of temporary workers. These workers will be subjected to speed-up and unsafe conditions overseen by labor-management committees, which will test new technologies, including video monitoring, to drive workers even harder.

Whatever the immediate cause of the death of D’Andre Brown, autoworkers know that such tragedies are waiting to happen under conditions where management is trying to achieve ever-higher rates of production off the backs of workers. … Only the independent initiative of workers can break the conspiracy of silence, uncover the truth and prevent further slaughter on the shop floor.

Elon Musk ‘unbreakable’ car window failure

This 2008 video is called Bill Gates, Windows 98, Blue Screen of Death.

This 22 November 2019 video says about itself:

‘Armor glass’ smashes in Tesla truck demo fail – BBC News

During a demo for the new Tesla “Cybertruck”, Elon Musk had an embarrassing moment when demonstrating how hard the windows were to break.

Twice, the truck’s windows were smashed, with Mr Musk joking there was “room for improvement”.

The all-electric truck was unveiled in Hawthorne, California, where its stainless steel, angular design was greeted with cheers but also bemusement.

Tesla’s truck will be sold starting at $39,900 (£30,900), for a model which has a range of 250 miles (402km), while the most expensive model, at $69,900, will have a range of 500 miles.

It will seat up to six adults and haul a payload of 3,500lbs, Tesla said.

This failure reminds me of this Volkswagen moment. And contrary to Volkswagen, not even a comedian prankster was needed for it at Tesla.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Employee of Tesla demolishes windows of ‘unbreakable’ pick-up truck

The unveiling of the new Tesla pick-up truck did not go smoothly. At the presentation, CEO Elon Musk wanted to show how robust the new model is, but the windows proved to be a lot less strong than expected.

Musk claimed that the exterior of the truck is ultra-strong and that the windows are made of armored glass. To show that, the head of the design department, Franz von Holzhausen, showed that a swipe with a hammer against the stainless steel door did not cause a dent. But when the Tesla employee threw a metal bullet against one of the windows, the “armored” glass shattered. “Oh my fucking god”, was the comment by CEO Musk.

“Maybe that was a bit too hard,” he said. “At least it didn’t get through,” Von Holzhauzen responded, who then also broke the rear door window. It is unknown whether the armored panes are really not strong enough or were destroyed deliberately, eg, to get media attention. Musk finished the presentation with the battered car behind him.

Futuristic armored vehicle

The new model has been given the name Cybertruck. With the angular appearance of a futuristic armored vehicle, the car does not at all resemble the pick-up trucks that are now seen in the streets. …

According to Musk, the angular design is based on one of the cars from the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

Swaziland people starve, Rolls-Royces for royals

This 10 November 2019 South African TV video says about itself:

PUDEMO condemns purchase of 19 Rolls-Royce cars for Swazi King

The People’s United Democratic Movement or PUDEMO has strongly condemned the purchase of nineteen Rolls-Royce cars bought by the Swazi king for the exclusive use of himself, his mother and his wives. Each vehicle is worth about R10 million.

This all apparently took place during student protests that have led to the closure of tertiary institutions. The protests are due to failure by the government to pay students expenses for the past two months. Public servants have also taken to the streets demanding better salaries.

Mlungisi Makhanya, president of People’s United Democratic Movement joins us now.

Translated from Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad today, by Eril Kouwenhoven:

His country is starving, but the king is buying brand new Rolls-Royce for all his 15 wives

The African country of Eswatini, which was still called Swaziland until last year, is being torn apart by poverty, but that did not stop King Mswati III from expanding his already impressive car collection with no fewer than 19 Rolls-Royces and 120 BMWs.

According to The Times, the purchase of his majesty benefits the family, which consists of 15 wives and 23 children. The monarch – worth more than $ 200 million – has been under fire for some time because of its lavish lifestyle. He owns a fleet of luxury cars, private aircraft and he even has his own airport.

It was said to be a fleet of trucks loaded with 20 Rolls-Royces and one Rolls-Royce Cullinan. The cars are for the king’s 15 wives and one of them is for his mother. The luxury SUV Cullinan is said to have been fully adapted and will be used by the king himself. It is not yet known whether the cars were ordered directly from the BMW Group, the parent company of Rolls-Royce, or whether they were purchased through an intermediary.

The king is clearly a fan of German vehicles, since he already owns 20 (!) Mercedes-Maybach S600 Pullmans, a Maybach 62 and a BMW X6. He also expanded his private fleet by buying another private jet on his 50th birthday last year, for which he paid $ 13.2 million.

In addition to its new Rolls-Royces fleet, Mswati III has reportedly also placed an order for 120 BMWs. Several local sources report that countless blue and white BMW 540 sedans and X3 SUVs were delivered to the country that is surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique.

According to the British newspaper The Guardian,Mswati raised his household budget to 61 million dollars a few years ago – while the majority of his subjects had to make ends meet on less than one dollar a day. Mswati has ruled Swaziland since 1986, succeeding his father, King Sobhuza II, of whom he was the 67th (!) son. His will is literally law: Mswati does not use a constitution.

Fiat Chrysler pollution software fraud scandal

This 13 January 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

EPA: Chrysler Also Cheating On Emissions

Another company has been accused of cheating on emissions tests. Again, it involves diesel and the very harmful nitrogen oxide. Ana Kasparian, Ben Mankiewicz, Grace Baldridge, and Aida Rodriguez, hosts of The Young Turks, discuss.

“Last fall, the Environmental Protection Agency discovered that Volkswagen had used illegal “defeat device” software that enabled hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles to cheat on their pollution tests. As a result, the cars emitted far more harmful nitrogen oxide on the road than they did during laboratory testing. This ended up being a huge global scandal that cost VW billions of dollars.

Now the scandal may be widening. On Thursday, the EPA also accused Fiat Chrysler of cheating — by failing to disclose software in at least 104,000 diesel vehicles that could increase their emission levels.

… One key thing to note is that it’s still not clear that this is exactly like the Volkswagen scandal, which featured a company that was very explicitly trying to fool regulators. Fiat Chrysler denies it was doing anything of the sort. Here’s a breakdown what we know so far:

1) After the VW scandal broke, the EPA began testing other carmakers’ vehicles to see if their pollution levels on the road matched what was being shown in the lab tests used by regulators. The agency discovered that a number of Fiat Chrysler models — including 2014 to 2016 model year Dodge Ram 1500 pickup trucks and Jeep Grand Cherokees with 3.0-liter diesel engines — emitted higher levels of nitrogen oxide pollution “under conditions that would be encountered in normal operation and use.” (There are at least 104,000 such vehicles on the road today.)”

Read more here.

That was then. And now …

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today, by Gert-Jan Dennekamp:

“51 million polluting diesel vehicles on European roads, but little action yet”

At a time when every gram of nitrogen counts, it is remarkable how easily the car industry seems to get off the hook. Because, according to the US Americans, Fiat Chrysler (with brands Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Jeep) has cheated with the environmental tests for their diesels and has used fraudulent software. This appears from a US American indictment of a senior manager of the corporation.

The Dutch regulator RDW and the Dutch public prosecution service have been investigating Jeep for years. The head office is located in the Netherlands and for a number of diesels the Netherlands has issued the European environmental certificate. But according to United States justice, there is no doubt: the tests have been tampered with. The diesels emit much more nitrogen than suggested.

The RDW carried out research into all diesels that have been awarded an environmental certificate in the Netherlands. These cars were all suspicious during the first tests. After laboratory tests and discussions with the manufacturer, two cars are now under suspicion: the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Suzuki Vitara. Both cars have a Fiat Chrysler engine.

In 2015 the Volkswagen fraud became known. The company committed fraud with the environmental tests for diesels that were much cleaner during the test installation than in reality. The cars emit much more nitrogen than the rules allow. The diesel affair has cost Volkswagen billions. Top people are criminal suspects in Germany or have already been convicted in the US.

“There are 51 million heavily polluting diesels on European roads. It is an industry-wide emissions-manipulation scandal,” said Julia Poliscanova, of the Brussels-based Transport & Environment club. “But we see very little binding legal action against manufacturers such as Volkswagen.”

The results of the investigation by the RDW have been shared with the Public Prosecution Service. If it is definitively established in the coming month that both cars were equipped with fraudulent software, then the car manufacturers can be prosecuted. FCA, the parent company of Fiat Chrysler, is a Dutch company.


Whereas the RDW and the public prosecution service are still investigating in the Netherlands, they are one step further in the US. There, FCA paid more than $ 650 million to settle US lawsuits after the US regulator concluded that the company had used cheating software. The company says it has done nothing wrong.

But a month ago, a senior FCA manager, Emanuele Palma, was arrested. The indictment states that the company has indeed cheated and deliberately fooled the supervisor. “Palma and his co-conspirators,” the indictment said, tampered with the software systems so that the vehicles “produce fewer nitrogen emissions during federal testing procedures than when the vehicles in question were driven by real-world customers”.

The indictment is quoted from internal emails that the manager and his colleagues wrote. It shows that they wrote software that only worked during the tests. “Our approach will certainly not be accepted by CARB (the regulator in California). Because it is clearly focused on recognizing the test cycle.” Another writes: “If CARB discovered this, they would probably see it as manipulating the test cycle.”

A senior boss responds immediately. “Don’t call it recognizing the test cycle, even among each other.” The man who has now been arrested finally writes: “I want this software to become active, but I don’t want it to be known.”


The Jeep diesel was presented as an EcoDiesel, the cleanest diesel in its category. But according to the American FBI, Palma knew that this representation was “incorrect and misleading”. “The FCA diesel cars polluted the environment.” In the case of the American Jeep Grand Cherokee there is therefore no doubt, according to the US American justice and environmental supervisor: Fiat Chrysler cheated with the software.

The German transport minister wrote a letter to his Italian colleague three years ago, in which he accused Fiat of manipulation. The Germans tested four cars from the Fiat group and “similar behavior was found in all tested vehicles” as in Volkswagen. The equipment switches off after 22 minutes. A test only takes 20 minutes.

The RDW also came to the conclusion earlier that the Suzuki was also equipped with such software. The RDW finds this “inadmissible” and wanted to do additional research. That investigation is now almost complete.

John German of the International Council for Clean Transportation (ICCT) put the US American government on the trail of Volkswagen five years ago. He thinks that there is certainly a case against Fiat Chrysler. “But whether it is watertight enough for a conviction is not yet certain”.

CHRYSLER AND PEUGEOT MERGE IN MEGA AUTO DEAL Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA Group have announced the terms of a merger that would create a new trans-Atlantic automaking giant with roughly 410,000 employees and combined revenues of $190 billion. Shareholders of each automaker would own 50% of the combined operation. [CNN]

Merger between PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler presages new assault on autoworkers: here.