Titans of Industry category archive
Der Spiegel interviews a garment worker who survived the building collapse in Bangladesh, that is, one of the persons who makes the clothes you wear for the brands you trust.
Personally, I have no expectations for the future. What should we workers hope for? Everything depends on the whims of the factory owners. For example, it only takes a little bit of rain before there’s mud and water half a meter high. How often did we tell the managers they had to do something? We arrive at work soaking wet and get sick. They promised us they would take care of it. But of course nothing changed.
Read it; see the fee hand of the market at work.
Buccaneer Petroleum’s attempt to spin its way out of trouble does not appear to be going well. Facing South reports:
The last few weeks in the media world have been particularly damaging to BP. Despite their best efforts to muffle the continuing effects of the 2010 Deepwater Drilling Disaster — a muffling which has focused around a multimillion dollar, three-year, non-stop ad campaign — the poor little fellas are suffering from an assault by the truth of the matter.
More on oily lies at the link.
It’s a fracking mystery.
A new rule set for approval by the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission requiring some disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing has been withdrawn at the request of industry giant Halliburton.
“Is this the way the commission is going to work?” asked Commission Charlotte Mitchell, a Raleigh lawyer. “There seem to be conversations happening offline and not in public about this rule that has already come out of committee.”
Halliburton claims that revealing the ingredents in its soup will compromise trade secrets.
I wonder whether the potential compromise is more likely to benefit Halliburton’s competitors or the public health.
In the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Kevin Carey marvels at the magic of the text-book publishing industry, as nice a scam as anyone has yet devised. A nugget:
Calculus hasn’t changed much since Newton and Leibniz invented it in the 17th century. Yet there have been seven editions of James Stewart’s best-selling “Calculus” (list: $245.95), the profits from which allowed Mr. Stewart to build a $24 million home with its own concert hall. And you don’t need calculus to calculate how much money colleges make by charging hundreds of students sitting in a lecture hall standard tuition rates, minus the negligible cost of an adjunct lecturer standing in the well.
Back in the olden days, that figure would have been my textbook budget for two semesters–and I studied history, sociology, and other book-intensive subjects.
Read the rest and learn part of the reason that students a drowning in debt.
Buccaneer Petroleum’s legacy continues, from the base of the aquatic food chain on up:
The die-off of tiny foraminifera stretched through the mile-deep DeSoto Canyon and beyond, following the path of an underwater plume of oil that snaked out from the wellhead, said David Hollander, a chemical oceanographer with USF.
“Everywhere the plume went, the die-off went,” Hollander said.
The discovery by USF scientists marks yet another sign that damage from the disaster is still being revealed as its third anniversary looms. Although initially some pundits said the spill wasn’t as bad as everyone feared, further scientific research has found that corals in the gulf died. Anglers hauled in fish with tattered fins and strange lesions. And dolphins continue dying.
The full implications of the die-off are yet to be seen. The foraminifera are consumed by clams and other creatures, who then provide food for the next step in the food chain, . . . .
The Baltimore Sun takes a long and relatively balanced look at fracking’s effects on the fracked.
In neighboring Bradford County, scene of the most intense drilling in the state, Sherry Vargson said she’s been waiting more than two years for the state to tell her how her water became contaminated. She calls her decision in 2006 to allow drilling by another Oklahoma-based company, Chesapeake Energy Corp., “the biggest mistake of my life.” Though the one-time lease payment of $19,000 helped pay off her son’s college loan, she said she and her husband had to sell their dairy herd on their 197-acre farm to make way for a well and pipeline that has yielded only about a $1,000 a year in royalty checks, she said.
Water from their kitchen tap fizzes like seltzer water, and she can ignite a foot-long flame by holding a match to the faucet when it’s on. The state says her water is safe to drink despite the methane, Vargson said, but she’s not reassured. Her dog and cat steer clear of it.
It’s pumping construction and other money into local economies–for now–and pollution into daily life.
Short-term boom, long-term poison.
Read about life on a fracking site.
How dare someone hold them accountable? How dare they they, I say!
In a combative statement, the oil giant said it had been open to a settlement in the civil trial, set to start on Monday in a federal court in New Orleans. But it had failed to reach a deal with federal government lawyers.
Their logic boils down to “We should not pay because reasons.”
The Cleveland Plain-Dealer editorializes:
The good news is that appalled state and federal officials were lightning fast in investigating and prosecuting the case of Ben Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating and other fracking-related companies in the Mahoning Valley. Lupo was charged last week with a criminal violation of the federal Clean Water Act for allegedly telling an employee to dump liquid fracking waste and oil-laced mud into a stormwater drain leading to a tributary of the Mahoning River. He faces up to three years in prison and a quarter-million-dollar fine if convicted.
Follow the link for the bad news. It doesn’t apply only to Ohio.
Another parable of who’s doing the taking and who’s doing the making (emphasis added):
A prominent Silicon Valley clean-energy startup has been ordered to pay back wages and penalties for bringing in workers from Mexico and paying them about $2.66 an hour in pesos, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Tuesday.
Sunnyvale-based Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cells and sells energy to clients including AT&T, Adobe, Coca-Cola, eBay, Google and Wal-Mart, was ordered by a judge to pay $31,922 in back wages and an equal amount in damages to 14 welders who were brought in to work alongside domestic workers refurbishing power generators.
The workers in question were welders.
If you’ve ever been around welders, you know that welding is, indeed, a skilled trade. MIG welding is a little easier than arc welding, but, in either one, expert welders work magic with their torches.
Randy Moyer, who trucked brine from wells to treatment plants and back to wells, now suffers from dizziness, blurred vision, headaches, difficulty breathing, swollen lips and appendages, and a fiery red rash that covered about 50 percent of his body. The Portage resident believes he’s sick from the chemicals in fracking fluid and from radiation exposure. He cites unsafe and unregulated working conditions on well sites, no oversight about safety clothing, breathing masks, or chemical suits. The sites are treated like any other construction site, all that’s needed is a hardhat and goggles. But when working with radiation and toxic chemicals from deep underground, adverse health effects are never far behind.
Watch a bit of the interview.
The accompanying story is here.
Via the Beaver County Times.