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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

Bernie Buzz: The Netanyahu Speech

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The Bernie Buzz

Take the poll: Should Speaker Boehner have notified the president before inviting the Israeli prime minister to address Congress?

The Netanyahu Speech

U.S. led negotiations to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon are at an important, difficult stage. A hotly-contested Israeli election is two weeks away. At this critical time in a volatile region, House Speaker Boehner asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to address Congress. Ignoring protocol, neither one checked with the White House, which strongly disapproves. Bernie was the first of a growing number of senators to say they won’t go to the speech next Tuesday. Boehner’s invitation politicizes U.S. foreign policy, improperly injects Congress into Israeli politics and undermines President Obama's lead role in charting U.S. foreign policy, Bernie said in an interview for the “PBS NewsHour.

Video Watch the PBS NewsHour

Listen Carefully to the Pope
Listen Carefully to the Pope
Bernie welcomes Pope Francis’ visit to the United States this fall. In a speech on the Senate floor, Bernie urged members of Congress to study carefully the Pope's very strong statements on poverty, income and wealth inequality and the growing economic and political power of the very rich.
Read Watch

Pipeline Veto Welcomed
Pipeline Veto Welcomed
President Obama on Tuesday vetoed legislation that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. “This veto tells the world that our nation takes seriously the planetary crisis of global warming and that we will not support legislation that would let a Canadian oil company ship some of the dirtiest oil on the planet across the United States," Bernie said.
Read Read more

The People Win on Net Neutrality
The People Win on Net Neutrality
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved new rules to keep the Internet open and free. Millions of Americans weighed in, including 50,000 people who sent Bernie emails that he forwarded to the FCC. They said Internet service providers should offer a neutral gateway to everything on the Internet. “The FCC vote shows that ordinary Americans can make a difference when they stand up to powerful corporate interests and Washington lobbyists,” Bernie said.
Read Read more

Income Inequality
Income Inequality
With 99 percent of new income going to the top 1 percent, Sanders has laid out plans to reduce income inequality in America. He told The Wall Street Journal he’s fighting for a fair tax system that asks the wealthy and large corporations to pay their fair share. He would raise the minimum wage to a living wage and end payday discrimination against women workers. To create millions of good-paying jobs, he proposed a $1 trillion investment in rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
Read Watch the interview

Coming Events

National Press Club: Bernie will speak at a National Press Club luncheon on Monday, March 9.

Must Reads

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher
Justin Gillis and John Schwartz for The New York Times

Aging water infrastructure remains a $1-billion headache in Los Angeles
Ben Poston and Matt Stevens for the Los Angeles Times

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RSN: Naomi Klein: 'The Economic System We Have Created Also Created Global Warming'

Best selling author/activist Naomi Klein. (photo: Anya Chibis/Guardian UK)
Best selling author/activist Naomi Klein. (photo: Anya Chibis/Guardian UK)

Naomi Klein: 'The Economic System We Have Created Also Created Global Warming'

By Klaus Brinkbaumer, Der Spiegel
28 February 15

PIEGEL: Ms. Klein, why aren't people able to stop climate change?
Klein: Bad luck. Bad timing. Many unfortunate coincidences.
SPIEGEL: The wrong catastrophe at the wrong moment?
Klein: The worst possible moment. The connection between greenhouse gases and global warming has been a mainstream political issue for humanity since 1988. It was precisely the time that the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama declared the "End of History," the victory of Western capitalism. Canada and the US signed the first free-trade agreement, which became the prototype for the rest of the world.
SPIEGEL: So you're saying that a new era of consumption and energy use began precisely at the moment when sustainability and restraint would have been more appropriate?
Klein: Exactly. And it was at precisely this moment that we were also being told that there was no longer any such thing as social responsibility and collective action, that we should leave everything to the market. We privatized our railways and the energy grid, the WTO and the IMF locked in an unregulated capitalism. Unfortunately, this led to an explosion in emissions.
SPIEGEL: You're an activist, and you've blamed capitalism for all kinds of things over the years. Now you're blaming it for climate change too?
Klein: That's no reason for irony. The numbers tell the story. During the 1990s, emissions went up by 1 percent per year. Starting in 2000, they started to go up by an average of 3.4 percent. The American Dream was exported globally and consumer goods that we thought of as essential to meet our needs expanded rapidly. We started seeing ourselves exclusively as consumers. When shopping as a way of life is exported to every corner of the globe, that requires energy. A lot of energy.
SPIEGEL: Let's go back to our first question: Why have people been unable to stop this development?
Klein: We have systematically given away the tools. Regulations of any kind are now scorned. Governments no longer create tough rules that limit oil companies and other corporations. This crisis fell into our laps in a disastrous way at the worst possible moment. Now we're out of time. Where we are right now is a do-or-die moment. If we don't act as a species, our future is in peril. We need to cut emissions radically.
SPIEGEL: Let's go back to another question: Are you not misappropriating the issue of climate change for use in your critique of capitalism?
Klein: No. The economic system that we have created has also created global warming. I didn't make this up. The system is broken, income inequality is too great and the lack of restraint on the part of the energy companies is disastrous.
SPIEGEL: Your son Toma is two-and-a-half years old. What kind of world will he be living in when he graduates from high school in 2030?
Klein: That is what is being decided right now. I see signs that it could be a radically different world from the one we have today -- and that change could either be quite positive or extremely negative. In any case, it's already certain that it will at least in part be a worse world. We're going to experience global warming and far more natural disasters, that much is certain. But we still have time to prevent truly catastrophic warming. We also have time to change our economic system so that it does not become more brutal and merciless as it deals with climate change.
SPIEGEL: What can be done to improve the situation?
Klein: We have to make some decisions now about what values are important to us and how we really want to live. And of course it makes a difference if temperatures only rise by 2 degrees or if they rise by 4 or 5 degrees or more. It's still possible for us humans to make the right decisions.
SPIEGEL: Twenty-six years have passed since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was founded in 1988. We have known at least since then that CO2 emissions from the burning of oil and coal is responsible for climate change. Yet little has been done to address the problem. Haven't we already failed?
Klein: I view the situation differently given the enormous price we will have to pay. As long as we have the slightest chance of success or to minimize the damage, we have to continue to fight.
SPIEGEL: Several years ago, the international community set a target of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Do you still consider that to be achievable?
Klein: Well, it's still a physical possibility. We would have to immediately reduce global emissions by 6 percent a year. The wealthier countries would have to carry a greater burden, meaning the United States and Europe would have to be cutting emissions by around 8 to 10 percent a year. Immediately. It's not impossible. It is just profoundly politically unrealistic under our current system.
SPIEGEL: You are saying our societies aren't capable of doing so?
Klein: Yes. We need a dramatic change both in policy and ideology, because there is a fundamental difference between what the scientists are telling us we need to do and our current political reality. We can't change the physical reality, so we must change the political reality.
SPIEGEL: Is a society focused on economic growth at all capable of fighting climate change successfully?
Klein: No. An economic model based on indiscriminate growth inevitably leads to greater consumption and to greater CO2 emissions. There can and must be growth in the future in many low carbon parts of the economy: in green technologies, in public transportation, in all the care-giving professions, in the arts and of course in education. Right now, the core of our gross domestic product is comprised of just consumption, imports and exports. We need to make cuts there. Anything else would be self-deception.
SPIEGEL: The International Monetary Fund makes the opposite claim. It says that economic growth and climate protection are not mutually exclusive.
Klein: They're not looking at the same numbers as I am. The first problem is that at all these climate conferences, everyone acts as if we will arrive at our goal through self-commitments and voluntary obligations. No one tells the oil companies that, in the end, they are really going to have to give up. The second problem is that these oil companies are going to fight like hell to protect what they don't want to lose.
SPIEGEL: You seriously want to eliminate the free market in order to save the climate?
Klein: I am not talking about eliminating markets, but we need much more strategy, steering and planning and a very different balance. The system in which we live is overly obsessed with growth -- it's one that sees all growth as good. But there are kinds of growth that are clearly not good. It's clear to me that my position is in direct conflict with neo-liberalism. Is it true that in Germany, although you have accelerated the shift to renewables, coal consumption is actually increasing?
SPIEGEL: That was true from 2009 to 2013.
Klein: To me that is an expression of this reluctance to decide on what is necessary. Germany is not going to meet its emissions targets in the coming years either.
SPIEGEL: Is the Obama presidency the worst thing that could have happened to the climate?
Klein: In a way. Not because Obama is worse than a Republican. He's not. But because these eight years were the biggest wasted opportunity of our lives. The right factors came together in a truly historic convergence: awareness, urgency, the mood, his political majority, the failure of the Big Three US automakers and even the possibility of addressing the failed unregulated financial world and climate change at the same time. But when he came to office, he didn't have the courage to do it. We will not win this battle unless we are willing to talk about why Obama viewed the fact that he had control over the banks and auto companies as more of a burden than as an opportunity. He was a prisoner of the system. He didn't want to change it.
SPIEGEL: The US and China finally agreed on an initial climate deal in 2014.
Klein: Which is, of course, a good thing. But anything in the deal that could become painful won't come into effect until Obama is out of office. Still, what has changed is that Obama said: "Our citizens are marching. We can't ignore that." The mass movements are important; they are having an impact. But to push our leaders to where they need to go, they need to grow even stronger.
SPIEGEL: What should their goal be?
Klein: Over the past 20 years, the extreme right, the complete freedom of oil companies and the freedom of the super wealthy 1 percent of society have become the political standard. We need to shift America's political center from the right fringe back to where it belongs, the real center.
SPIEGEL: Ms. Klein, that's nonsense, because it's illusory. You're thinking far too broadly. If you want to first eliminate capitalism before coming up with a plan to save the climate, you know yourself that this won't happen.
Klein: Look, if you want to get depressed, there are plenty of reasons to do so. But you're still wrong, because the fact is that focusing on supposedly achievable incremental changes light carbon trading and changing light bulbs has failed miserably. Part of that is because in most countries, the environmental movement remained elite, technocratic and supposedly politically neutral for two-and-a-half decades. We are seeing the result of this today: It has taken us in the wrong direction. Emissions are rising and climate change is here. Second, in the US, all the major legal and social transformations of the last 150 years were a consequence of mass social movements, be they for women, against slavery or for civil rights. We need this strength again, and quickly, because the cause of climate change is the political and economic system itself. The approach that you have is too technocratic and small.
SPIEGEL: If you attempt to solve a specific problem by overturning the entire societal order, you won't solve it. That's a utopian fantasy.
Klein: Not if societal order is the root of the problem. Viewed from another perspective, we're literally swimming in examples of small solutions: There are green technologies, local laws, bilateral treaties and CO2 taxation. Why don't we have all that at a global level?
SPIEGEL: You're saying that all the small steps -- green technologies and CO2 taxation and the eco-behavior of individuals -- are meaningless?
Klein: No. We should all do what we can, of course. But we can't delude ourselves that it's enough. What I'm saying is that the small steps will remain too small if they don't become a mass movement. We need an economic and political transformation, one based on stronger communities, sustainable jobs, greater regulation and a departure from this obsession with growth. That's the good news. We have a real opportunity to solve many problems at once.
SPIEGEL: You don't appear to be counting on the collective reason of politicians and entrepreneurs.
Klein: Because the system can't think. The system rewards short-term gain, meaning quick profits. Take Michael Bloomberg, for example ...
SPIEGEL: … the businessman and former New York City mayor …
Klein: … who understood the depths of the climate crisis as a politician. As a businessman, however, he chooses to invest in a fund that specializes in oil and gas assets. If a person like Bloomberg cannot resist the temptation, then you can assume that the system's self-preservation capacity isn't that great.
SPIEGEL: A particularly unsettling chapter in your book is about Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group.
Klein: Yes. I wouldn't have expected it.
SPIEGEL: Branson has sought to portray himself as a man who wants to save the climate. It all started after an encounter with Al Gore.
Klein: And in 2006, he pledged at an event hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative that he would invest $3 billion in research into green technologies. At the time, I thought it was truly a sensational contribution. I didn't think, oh, you cynical bastard.
SPIEGEL: But Branson was really just staging it and only a fraction of that money was ever spent.
Klein: He may well have been sincere at the time, but yes, only a fraction was spent.
SPIEGEL: Since 2006, Branson has added 160 new airplanes to his numerous airlines and increased his emissions by 40 percent.
Klein: Yes.
SPIEGEL: What is there to learn from this story?
Klein: That we need to question the symbolism and gestures made by Hollywood stars and the super rich. We cannot confuse them with a scientifically sound plan to reduce emissions.
SPIEGEL: In America and Australia, a lot of money is spent on efforts to deny climate change. Why?
Klein: It's different from Europe. It's an anger that is similar to that held by those who oppose abortion and gun control. It's not only that they are protecting a way of life they don't want to change. It's that they understand that climate change challenges their core anti-government, free-market belief system. So they have to deny it to protect their very identity. That's why there's this intensity gap: Liberals want to take a little bit of action on climate protection. But at the same time, these liberals also have a number of other issues that are higher on their agenda. But we have to understand that the hardcore conservative climate change deniers will do everything in their power to prevent action.
SPIEGEL: With pseudo-scientific studies and disinformation?
Klein: With all of that, of course.
SPIEGEL: Does that explain why you are connecting all of these issues -- the environment, equity, public health and labor issues -- that are popular on the left? Is it out of purely strategic considerations?
Klein: The issues are connected, and we also need to connect them in the debate. There is only one way that you can win a battle against a small group of people who stand to lose a lot: You need to start a mass movement that includes all the people who have a lot to gain. The deniers can only be defeated if you are just as passionate as them, but also when you are superior in numbers. Because the truth is that they really are very few.
SPIEGEL: Why don't you believe that technology has the potential to save us?
Klein: There has been tremendous progress in the storage of renewable energies, for instance, and in solar efficiency. But climate change? I, in any case, don't have enough faith to say, "We'll come up with some invention at some point, so let's just drop all other efforts." That would be insane.
SPIEGEL: People like Bill Gates view things differently.
Klein: And I find their technology fetish naïve. In recent years, we've witnessed some really big failures where some of the smartest guys in the room screwed up on a massive scale, be it with the derivatives that triggered the financial crisis or the oil catastrophe off the coast of New Orleans. Mostly, we as people break things and we don't know how to fix them afterwards. Right now, it's our planet that we're breaking.
SPIEGEL: Listening to you, one might get the impression that the climate crisis is a gender issue.
Klein: Why would you say that?
SPIEGEL: Bill Gates says we need to keep moving forward and come up with new inventions to get the problem, and ultimately our complicated Earth, under control. You on the other hand are saying: Stop, no, we have to adapt ourselves to this planet and become softer. The US oil companies are run by men. And you, as a critical woman, are described as hysterical. It's not an absurd thought, is it?
Klein: No. The entire industrialization was about power or whether it would be man or nature that would dominate Earth. It is difficult for some men to admit that we don't have everything under control; that we have amassed all this CO2 over the centuries and that Earth is now telling us: Well, you're just a guest in my house.
SPIEGEL: A guest of Mother Earth?
Klein: That's too cheesy. But you're still right. The oil industry is a male-dominated world, a lot like high finance. It's very macho. The American and Australian idea of "discovering" an endless country and that endless resources can be extracted is a narrative of domination, one that traditionally casts nature as a weak, prone woman. And the idea of being in a relationship of interdependence with the rest of the natural world was seen as weak. That's why it is doubly difficult for alpha men to concede that they have been wrong.
SPIEGEL: There's one issue in the book that you seem to steer clear of. Although you revile the companies, you never say that your readers, who are customers of these companies, are also culpable. You also remain silent about the price that individual readers will have to pay for climate protection.
Klein: Oh, I think that most people would be happy to pay for it. They know that climate protection requires reasonable behavior: less driving, less flying and less consumption. They would be happy to use renewable energies if they were offered them.
SPIEGEL: But the idea isn't big enough, right?
Klein: (laughs) Exactly. The green movement spent decades educating people that they should compost their garbage, that they should recycle and that they should ride their bikes. But look at what has happened to the climate during these decades.
SPIEGEL: Is the lifestyle you lead climate-friendly?
Klein: Not enough. I bike, I use transit, I try to give speeches by Skype, I share a hybrid car and I cut my flying to about one-tenth of what it was before I started this project. My sin is taking taxis, and since the book came out, I've been flying too much. But I also don't think that only people who are perfectly green and live CO2-free should be allowed to talk about this issue. If that were the case, then nobody would be able to say anything at all.
SPIEGEL: Ms. Klein, we thank you for this interview.

RSN: Leonard Nimoy's Last Wishes for Israel and Palestine

It's time to WAGE PEACE in the Middle East!

How many more INNOCENTS will we kill?
How many more INNOCENTS will Israel kill?

Leonard Nimoy in 2013. (photo: Fred Prouser/Reuters)
Leonard Nimoy in 2013. (photo: Fred Prouser/Reuters)
Leonard Nimoy. (photo:
Leonard Nimoy. (photo:

Leonard Nimoy's Last Wishes for Israel and Palestine

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment
28 February 15

eonard Nimoy, who played Mr. Spock on Star Trek, speaks out as a Jewish American in favor of a two-state solution and a divided Jerusalem.
Nimoy said,
‘ “I reach out to you as someone who is troubled to see the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continue apparently without an end in sight.

“In fact, there is an end in sight. It’s known as the two-state solution–a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state. Even Israel’s nationalist Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, has come to see this as the shape of the future. The problem is how to reach that end point. It’s something we should be concerned about–not only as world citizens, but as Americans.

“You might recall the episode in the original Star Trek series called, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield. Two men, half black, half white, are the last survivors of their peoples who have been at war with each other for thousands of years, yet the Enterprise crew could find no differences separating these two raging men.

“But the antagonists were keenly aware of their differences–one man was white on the right side, the other was black on the right side. And they were prepared to battle to the death to defend the memory of their people who died from the atrocities committed by the other.

“The story was a myth, of course, and by invoking it I don’t mean to belittle the very real issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians. What I do mean to suggest is that the time for recriminations is over. Assigning blame over all other priorities is self-defeating. Myth can be a snare. The two sides need our help to evade the snare and search for a way to compromise.

“The Middle East is only getting more tumultuous. The upheavals throughout the region show that what happens in the Middle East can’t help but affect us in the United States. This year, we’ve seen oil prices rise sharply and America become involved militarily in Libya. The cost to American lives and our economy continues to rise at a time when unemployment and deficits are sapping our country’s strength.” ‘
Nimoy’s letter is at Americans for Peace Now.
Relevant is this video of Nimoy speaking on the Jewish values in Star Trek:

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.
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