Since the Dilly, Dally, Delay & Stall Law Firms are adding their billable hours, the Toyota U.S.A. and Route 44 Toyota posts have been separated here:

Route 44 Toyota Sold Me A Lemon

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Cape Wind: It's time!

Cape Wind's Jim Gordon calls state energy legislation "very promising"

Cape rep one of bill's sponsors - A coalition needed to ensure a revenue stream and to get the wind industry off the ground

Carlos Tobon: I serve in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve

Please add your name to speak out against the Republican Hostage Taking in Congress!

Those of us who serve in the United States Coast Guard save lives and keep our economy going.

We participate in search and rescue missions -- the local fishing and tourist industries depend on us for safety. We protect the vitality of the marine economy by keeping harmful and illegal substances away from our shores and the mainland.

Three hundred million Americans are protected by 40,000 members of the United States Coast Guard.

And I was SHOCKED to see that the Tea Party Caucus voted AGAINST funding the Department of Homeland Security just a few hours ago ... including the United States Coast Guard.

Tell Congress to stop playing tug of war with our nation's safety and pass a clean bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

I have seen the professionalism and dedication of so many men and women who work and train hard to be the best, and respond properly when called upon, and it saddens me that so many of my friends and their families have been going to sleep wondering the next time they'll receive a paycheck.

The many workers in the different areas of Homeland Security deserve a better fate than becoming victims of Washington D.C.'s dysfunction. We need to honor and respect the countless public servants who make up the department, by passing a clean funding bill to pay for their work.

Tell Congress to pass legislation funding the Department of Homeland Security

Thanks for making your voice heard on this issue. I, and those I serve with, truly appreciate it.

All the best,

Carlos Tobon
Rhode Island State Representative
U.S. Coast Guard Reserve Petty Officer

RSN: The Plagues of Global Warming, Ex-Mossad Chief to Headline Anti-Netanyahu Rally

It's Live on the HomePage Now:
Reader Supported News

Andy Borowitz | Americans Favor Legalizing Pot and Criminalizing Congress
U.S. Congress. (photo: Pablo Martinez/AP)
Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker
Borowitz writes: "By a huge majority, Americans support laws legalizing marijuana and criminalizing Congress, according to a poll released on Thursday."

Bill de Blasio | Ensuring Internet Equality for All
Bill de Blasio, Reader Supported News
De Blasio writes: "Like electricity in the 1800s, the Internet is now an essential building block of economic opportunity."

Ex-Mossad Chief to Headline Anti-Netanyahu Rally
Jonathan Lis, Haaretz
Lis writes: "Former Mossad head Meir Dagan will be the keynote speaker at a rally demanding regime change which is planned for Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on March 7."

Autopsy: Police Shot Antonio Zambrano-Montes From Behind
Al Jazeera America
Excerpt: "An unarmed man fatally shot by police in Washington state after he pelted them with rocks and tried to flee was struck as many as seven times, including two shots from behind, contrary to police accounts, a family attorney said on Thursday."

Patrick Cockburn | US-Led Attack on Mosul Could Displace up to 1 Million
Patrick Cockburn, Democracy Now!
Cockburn: "It looks as though the Islamic State has much more money than it ought to have. It's raised certainly 100,000, and getting on over 200,000, soldiers."

How Activism Won Real Net Neutrality
Jay Cassano, Waging Nonviolence
Cassano writes: "Today the Federal Communications Commission has adopted strong net neutrality rules that will require all traffic on the Internet to be treated equally."

Elizabeth Kolbert | The Plagues of Global Warming
Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker
Kolbert writes: "A paper published the other day in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which quickly made headlines all around the world, argues that the prevailing theory of how the Black Death spread is unfair to rats."

Friday, February 27, 2015

General Motors refuses to fix damage caused by defective part

Consumer Watchdog: General Motors refuses to fix damage caused by defective part

  February 27. 2015

Christine Young, Consumer Watchdog
Is it possible for a company to habitually manufacture and sell shoddy, dangerous products and treat its customers as if they're fools – and still remain in business?

Sure it is.

Take General Motors, which recalled a record-breaking 30.4 million vehicles in 2014, more than any other car company in the U.S. The recall number includes vehicles with a defective ignition switch that prompted a federal investigation and the establishment of a victims' compensation fund that has 4,345 claims currently under review, including 479 deaths and 292 serious injuries such as quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage and pervasive burns, allegedly received in accidents in 2.6 million GM vehicles with the faulty switch.

Unfortunately, the drivers and passengers in the other 28 million recalled GM vehicles don't have a victims' compensation fund, but not everyone who owns a recalled vehicle gets hurt or killed. Some just get the car fixed before anything goes wrong and that's the end of it. Those who aren't so lucky are left to their own devices to get a fair shake from GM.

Among those unlucky GM customers is schoolteacher Kevin Moran of Harveys Lake, who was driving his 2013 Chevy Spark on a bright and sunny Christmas Day in 2014 with his wife. The car was loaded with presents, and there was very little traffic on the Cross Valley Expressway. It seemed like perfect day to relax and celebrate with family – until they heard a horrendous, explosive noise and the blue sky disappeared.

The hood of the Spark had blown open and smashed the windshield, completely blocking their view and covering both Morans in shattered glass. Using the rear-view mirrors, Kevin maneuvered the vehicle to the side of the highway. Both he and his wife were shaken, but unhurt.

Realizing they were less than a mile from Bonner Chevrolet, Kevin tied the hood down, drove at a crawl to the dealer's lot, and called a relative to pick them up so they could enjoy what was left of Christmas Day. “Most of the day was spent retelling the story and hearing from everyone just how fortunate we were,” he said.

As it happened, GM had issued a recall for possible hood-latch failure in mid-November. The recall letter stated, “We will send you another notice to inform you when parts are available to repair your vehicle.”

By Christmas Day, however, no such letter had arrived, and Moran's car looked as though it had been in a crash – bent and broken hood and fenders, pulverized windshield, scratched-off paint, busted hinges.

The body shop at Bonner estimated the damage at $5,001.32. With the car's book value at about $9,500, it was worth the fix.

“The guys at Bonner were terrific,” says Moran. “They were confident that this was a simple recall issue and that GM would pick up the tab.”

The guys at Bonner were wrong.

Instead, GM instructed Bonner to jack up the estimate to a higher “warranty rate,” raising the repair cost to over $7,000 and enabling GM to declare the vehicle a total loss.

Instead of reimbursing Moran his vehicle's book value of $9,500, GM offered him $7,500 and a $2,000 “Owner Loyalty” coupon.

That's like $2,000 in Monopoly money – no good unless you're willing to play the game, which Moran was not.

With this offer, GM was forcing him to either buy a new Chevy or buy another make and lose $2,000 of what his car was worth — before the Chevy defect totaled it.

Moran refused the offer and spent several weeks trying to persuade GM “Customer Care” to fix the car at the rate Bonner had quoted, but “Customer Care” stopped responding to his emails.

“I ended up having my insurance repair the vehicle at Bonner for the initial estimate and paid a $250 deductible,” Moran told me.

I contacted GM Spokesman Alan Adler and asked if GM would reimburse Moran the $250 deductible he'd shelled out to repair the damage caused by Chevy's defective hood latch.

That afternoon Moran said he got a call from “Jennifer” at GM media relations.

“She seemed to think GM did everything correctly and that the offer they made originally would satisfy most of their customers.”

Really, Jennifer? Most GM customers would be satisfied with having their car destroyed by a GM manufacturing defect and then being arm-twisted into either buying another GM car or taking a $2,000 loss?

Maybe so, because in 2014, despite $4.1 billion in recall expenses, GM made a tidy operating profit of $6.5 million on worldwide sales of 9.9 million vehicles – a two percent jump over the company's record-setting 2013 sales.

I wrote another email to Adler, asking again if GM would reimburse Moran the $250. Seems like a simple case of right and wrong, I told him.

“Mr. Moran's case is with GM customer assistance and I hope it can be resolved to his satisfaction,” Adler replied.

There you have it, folks — GM “Customer Care” at its best.
Christine Young is the Times Leader's Consumer Watchdog. She can be reached at Her column appears weekly.

Parris Boyd
I've also (see previous comment) been blogging about the "total loss" racket, having experienced a situation similar to Mr. Moran's, whereby directives were issued to a body shop to pad repair costs in order to meet state requirements for "totaling" my vehicle. Search "Like a good MUGGER, State Farm is there..." and read my post "Why is State Farm 'totaling' my car?"

Parris Boyd
It should be obvious to all that we have a corporate-controlled government - Repukes n Demagogues alike - that allows crooked special interests to run roughshod over consumers amidst a never-ending parade of blood-spattered scandals. NHTSA is a lapdog for the auto industry and the "Just Us" Department stands guard to make sure none of the executives at Toyota, GM, Takata, etc. ad nauseum wind up in prison. I've been blogging about the sorry state of affairs - search "Beware of Toyota. Their next victim may be YOU..."


RSN: 5 Surprising Ways Iran Is Better Than Israel

Foreign policy commentator Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)
Foreign policy commentator Juan Cole. (photo: Informed Comment)

5 Surprising Ways Iran Is Better Than Israel

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
27 February 15

think I’m one of the few Americans who has been to both Iran and Israel. I like both countries and have a lot in common with thinkers in both. I love What I know of Tel Aviv’s cafe culture and the searing honesty and high ethics of the Israeli thinkers I have talked to (so different from the strident and almost cult-like cheerleaderism of right wing Jewish Americans on Israel). It is said that Israelis’ favorite philosopher is Spinoza. I approve. Iranian intellectuals are less able to speak their minds in Iran’s unfree media than their Israeli counterparts (though there is a price to too much frankness in Israel, as well), but one on one they are also level-headed and clear-eyed. I suspect Iranians’ favorite philosopher is Rumi. If so, again, I approve. In fact, I think Rumi and Spinoza would have gotten along famously. Unfortunately contemporary Iran and contemporary Israel don’t get along at all politically, which sets the stage for the Washington melodrama planned for March 3, when Israel’s belligerent prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, will address Congress in a bid to undermine President Obama’s diplomacy with Iran on their civilian nuclear enrichment program.

Iran and European Jewry were both treated horribly in the 19th and 20th centuries by the major European imperial countries. Obviously, proportionally Jews suffered much more than Iranians did; about a third of Jews were murdered in the Nazi genocide. But Iran also suffered significant loss of human life and property. Tsarist Russia fought two wars with it in the early nineteenth century, and annexed from it substantial territory. Britain and Russia forbade Iran from constructing a railroad in the late 19th century, robbing it of a key tool of economic advance; that probably killed a lot of Iranians if you think about its implications. The British and the Russians opposed the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-1911 and helped make sure Iranians did not get liberty and a rule of law. Britain backed the rise of the Pahlevi dictatorship in the 1920s, if it did not in fact simply impose it. The US overthrew the elected government of Iran in 1953 because it had nationalized the oil industry and imposed the megalomaniacal Mohammad Reza Pahlavi on that country. Ultimately Iranians, outraged at constant interference in their domestic affairs, overthrew the shah and instituted a revolutionary regime based on indigenous Iranian culture, especially religious culture. Although the Jewish response to the European genocide against Jews was not immediately religious (most Zionists were secular), over time religion has come to play a bigger and bigger part in Israeli life. In a sense, Israel and Iran are both reactions against European nationalism and imperialism, though Israel has now allied with the West, whereas Iran continues to oppose many Western policies.
The conflict between Israel and Iran is in part driven by their history with European repression. Israelis, mauled by European “Aryan” nationalism and its mass murder of Jews, do not want an enemy state like Iran to be in a position even to think about constructing a nuclear weapon. Iranians, oppressed by imperialism to the point where they couldn’t have a railroad until the 1920s, are damned if they are going nowadays to let someone else dictate to them how they make electricity.
It is natural that Westerners should find Israel more simpatico than Iran, given the Israeli government’s alliance with the West and Iran’s antipathy. But here are some differences between the two that are in Iran’s favor, which I point out just to balance out the unfair way the two are covered.
  1. Iran does not have a nuclear bomb and is signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Despite what is constantly alleged in the Western press and by Western politicians, there is no evidence that Iran has an active nuclear weapons program; and, the theocratic Supreme Leader has forbidden making, stockpiling and using nuclear weapons. In contrast, Israel refused to sign the NPT and has several hundred nuclear warheads, which it constructed stealthily, including through acts of espionage and smuggling in the United States, and against the wishes of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. And, its leaders have more than once implied they are ready to use it; then prime minister Ariel Sharon alarmed George W. Bush when he intimated that he’d nuke Baghdad if Saddam tried to send SCUDs tipped with gas on Israel.

  2. Iran has not launched an aggressive war since 1775, when Karim Khan Zand sent an army against Omar Pasha in Basra in neighboring Iraq. Though, whether that was a response to Ottoman provocations or actually an aggressive act could be argued. Who started a war is always a matter of interpretation to some extent, but if we define it as firing the first shot, then Israel started wars in 1956, 1967 and 1982. If the principle of proportionality of response is entered into the equation, then you’d have to say 2006, 2009, and 2014 were also predominantly an Israeli decision.

  3. Modern Iran has not occupied the territory of its neighbors. Iraq attacked Iran in 1980 in a bloodthirsty act of aggression. Iran fought off Iraq 1980-1988. But after the hostilities ended, Tehran did not try to take and hold Iraqi territory in revenge. The UN Charter of 1945 forbids countries to annex the land of their neighbors through warfare. In contrast, Israel occupies 4 million stateless Palestinians, who are treated as any subjected, colonized population would be. Nor is there any prospect in my lifetime of those Palestinians gaining citizenship in their own state; they are going to live and die humiliated and colonized and often expropriated.

  4. All the people ruled over by Iran can vote in national elections and even Iranian Jews have a representative in parliament. In contrast, of the 12 million people ruled by Israel, 4 million of them have no vote in Israeli politics, which is the politics that actually rules them.

  5. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is not trying to undermine the Obama administration’s negotiations with his country, aimed at making sure Iran can have nuclear electricity plants but that it cannot develop a weapon.
Iran’s government is not one I agree with on almost anything, and it is dictatorial and puritanical. I wish Iranians would get past it and join the world’s democracies. Israel is better than Iran in most regards– for Israeli citizens it has more of a rule of law and more personal liberties. But just to be fair, there are some ways Iran’s policies are better than Israel’s.
Related video:

Taxpayers for Common Sense: The Plane That's Eating the Pentagon

There is really no way to defend this Pentagon Waste!

Weekly Wastebasket

The Plane That's Eating the Pentagon


Volume XX No.9: February 27, 2015

You really want that sports car, or a Mercedes, or a vacation, or a big new house, or some other fancy but unreachable item, but in the end you know that if you buy that you won’t be able to afford anything else. It would mean a ramen noodle diet and a threadbare closet from now to eternity for you and your family. So maybe you put up a picture and daydream a little and hope to win the lottery. But what you don’t do – if you’re responsible – is mortgage everything for that one thing.

That’s what you do if you’re not the Air Force, or the rest of the Pentagon for that matter.

A quick survey of the numbers in the Pentagon’s Fiscal year (FY) 2016 budget request is further proof of the unaffordability of the F-35 joint aircraft program – the platinum plated spork of an aircraft intended to replace the F-16, F-15, F/A-18, and the A-10 to name a few. We’ve written a lot about the F-35 and its overall cost. You can read our comprehensive report on the F-35. And we also have a compilation of all our writings on this program. We leave it to others to write about the capability of the aircraft. But we think it’s hard for anyone to argue, with a straight face, that the Pentagon can afford to spend $1.5 trillion on a single aircraft program, as the Congressional Budget Office predicts.

It’s hard for most of us to even conceptualize what $1.5 trillion really means. A trillion is a thousand billions or a million millions. But let’s put just this year’s procurement request for the F-35, across all three services, into perspective.

The Pentagon is asking to purchase 57 F-35s in FY16 – that’s 19 more than the 38 they received in the final FY15 bill. The overall cost of those 57 airframes is slightly more than $11 billion (that’s both procurement and research and development.)

If you just count procurement of airframes and spare parts, you’re looking at $9.2 billion. The total Pentagon request for procurement – in the base budget – is $107.7 billion. So that means fully 8.5 percent of all Pentagon procurement in this budget request that includes all major systems procurement from A to Z – Apache helicopters to Zumwalt destoyers – is devoted to a single aircraft program. That’s a staggering amount.

But there are other ways to slice the budgetary salami. Deep in the Pentagon’s budget submission is a table of “Major Acquisition Programs.” This table gives the dollar amount being spent, in both procurement and research & development, on the Pentagon’s major programs. The aircraft section lists twelve different aircraft programs where, presumably, the Pentagon is pursuing investments in future capabilities.

And if you just look at overall aircraft procurement and R&D costs, 35 percent – more than a third – is going to just the F-35.

Okay, so a table with a bunch of numbers doesn’t really tell the story, so we put the Pentagon’s own data into a pie chart and added some color:

The next way to slice the budgetary salami, illustrates how the Departments of the Navy and the Air Force are allocating their separate aircraft-buying accounts.

This chart represents the Department of the Navy “combat aircraft” account for FY16. (Note that the Navy also buys planes for the Marine Corps.) The P-8 is the largest piece of the pie, with the F-35 coming in second. Overall, the chart shows some balance and a sense of the need for trade-offs to purchase all the airframes necessary for the future of Naval Aviation.

And this chart that looks like the Japanese flag shows the “balance” in the Department of the Air Force’s “combat aircraft” account for FY16.

No matter how you slice it, this much is clear – the Pentagon, and in particular the Air Force, is mortgaging the future of not just other aircraft programs, but all Pentagon procurement to purchase one, unaffordable aircraft. We sure hope it works, because that is one pricey, lonely, egg in that basket.

To learn more about Taxpayers for Common Sense and other ways you can support our work, visit our website.

RSN: Jeb Bush Wouldn't Hesitate to Start "Third Bush War"

Listen carefully and consider the nation and the world you leave....


Sure isn't Republicans!

It's Live on the HomePage Now:
Reader Supported News

FOCUS | Jeb Bush Wouldn't Hesitate to Start "Third Bush War"
Former Florida governor Jeb Bush. (photo: Getty Images)
David Knowles, Bloomberg
Knowles writes: "Jeb Bush may be his own man, but that would not stop him from starting a war in the Middle East like his father and brother before him."