Saturday, April 20, 2013

Industrial Murder

Tale of Two Slaughters

Boston Marathon

The U.S. news has seen wall-to-wall coverage of the brutal bombings at the Boston Marathon, and its aftermath – car chases, dead police and suspects, bombs and finally a collar of one suspect. Two Islamist Chenchen nationalists were involved.  The Chechens have waged a bloody and violent campaign for independence in Asia by killing many innocent Russian civilians –hijacking airliners in 2001, seizing hostages in a Moscow theater in 2002, taking over a grade school in 2004 & being involved in two subway bombings in Moscow in 2010.  Of course, the Russian government has responded with overwhelming military violence as well.  The Islamist leader of the Chenchen rebels, Dokka Umarov, is sometimes called the “Russian Bin Laden.”  This is the gruesome political atmosphere these two punks were weaned on and adopted. Russian civilians know Chechen 'tactics' well.

How they are going to explain how killing ordinary people watching a marathon in Boston, U.S. will help Islam or Chechnya is beyond nearly everyone. Of course, that hasn't stopped fundies before.

What is notable about the events in Boston from a left-wing point of view is the ‘lockdown’ of a whole city by the Governor of Massachusetts, after a request by the police.  The police were only searching a 20 square block area in Newtown, mind you.  Again, hysterical government overreach.  Virtual martial law in a whole city over one 19 year-old kid.  Bostonians might have felt not only danger from the shooters - but danger from the police and national guard if they ventured outside.  Yet the suspect was only discovered when a civilian went OUT of his house and discovered blood on his boat cover, looking inside to see an injured man.

Another issue is that of the ‘first responders.’  The majority of first responders in Boston were not police or fireman but ordinary civilians, just as in Minneapolis when the bridge went down.  Civilians are the first responders.  Cops and firemen are the ‘second’ responders.  The press never recognizes this.  Nor was the initial evidence of the suspects gleaned from security camera video like some cool episode of “Person of Interest” or image on Reddit, but from an eyewitness whose legs were severed, but saw one suspect put the bomb bag down next to him, and looked into his eyes.

Now the FBI says that Miranda is not needed for the younger brother - some kind of 'immediate danger' exception! The FBI had been aware of the older brother for 3-5 years, and has been in 'contact' with him during that whole period.  They were tipped off by Russian intelligence long ago.  So speculation is swirling that this might not just be two vicious religious nationalists going 'off.'  For me, it looks like a self-generated attack.

Robert W Schaefer, former Green Beret, military analyst, said in Salon: 
Laura Miller:  "Nevertheless, it’s very hard to see what the point of an attack like the Boston Marathon bombings would be for the Chechen insurgency.
Robert W Schaefer:  "I agree with you. I think those boys were probably used by somebody. They were probably told they were supporting one cause, and who knows if the people who were using them had anything to do with that cause?" 

Death toll:  5 dead, around 141 injured.

Texas Fertilizer Plant

Now, over in West, Texas the next day, an enormous explosion killed 15 workers and firefighters, injured 200 and damaged the surrounding neighborhood, including a nursing home and an intermediate school – some 75 buildings. 

Which of these incidents is more severe?  Which is more damaging?  Which does the bourgeois press cover?  Because the Boston bombings were the work of ostensible religious or political terrorists who ‘chose’ to do what they did, while the explosion in West, Texas was an ‘accident’ – somehow we are to believe Boston should be the focus.  Another industrial accident?  Move along folks, nothing new to see here.

It was not an accident. 

AP Reports:  OSHA last inspected this plant in 1985.  OSHA issued a $30 fine (!) for a serious violation for storage of anhydrous ammonia.  OSHA cited the plant for four other serious violations of respiratory protection standards but did not issue fines.

The facility stored anhydrous ammonia, which the company insisted was not “flammable.”

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration fined West Fertilizer/Adair Grain Inc. $10,000 last summer for safety violations that included planning to transport anhydrous ammonia without a security plan.  In a risk-management plan filed with the EPA about a year earlier, the company said it was not handling flammable materials and did not have sprinklers, water-deluge systems, blast walls, fire walls or other safety mechanisms in place at the plant.  However, state officials require all facilities that handle anhydrous ammonia to have sprinklers and other safety measures because it is a flammable substance.  But inspectors would not necessarily check for such mechanisms, and it’s not known whether they did when the West plant was last inspected in 2006.  That inspection followed a complaint about a strong ammonia smell, which the company resolved by obtaining a new permit.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board, which is ostensibly in charge of investigating industrial accidents based on chemical issues, is so far behind in its work that it has yet to issue findings on explosions from 4 years ago, and many times neglects one ‘accident’ for another.

According to the Guardian, last year, the fertilizer plant stored 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the US Department of Homeland Security, yet did not tell the DHS.  Evidently DHS did not even know the plant existed.  DHS is 7 years behind in 'approving' disaster plans. 

I.E. the Texas and Federal officials in charge of overseeing safety at this plant really did not.  There is no union at the plant of course, so union safety officers could not monitor and flag issues within the plant.  After all, Texas is a ‘right to die’ state.  And the capitalists who own West Fertilizer certainly weren’t going to bite into their profits by treating anhydrous ammonia as explosive.  Instead they lied, and workers died.

Why don’t we see helicopters circling the roofs of the owners of West Fertilizer, while their neighborhood is put on lockdown, and SWAT teams surround their mansions?  Or state and federal officials in charge of chemical safety being dragged out of their offices in handcuffs?  And 24 hour, wall to wall coverage from CNN on the criminals who created far more destruction than Boston?  A Presidential address?  And a great push in Texas for card check and the closed-shop, so that unions can once again return to these Texas backwaters and improve safety.

Don’t hold your breath.  One thing to do is observe Workers Memorial Day on April 28.  Workers Memorial Day originated in Canada in 1984, and in 1991 the Canadian Parliament passed a “National Day of Mourning” for workers injured or killed on the job. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), across the world:
  • Each year, more than two million women and men die as a result of work-related accidents and diseases
  • Workers suffer approximately 270 million accidents each year, and fall victim to some 160 million incidents of -related illnesses
  • Hazardous substances kill 440,000 workers annually – asbestos claims 100,000 lives
  • One worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide. 6,000 workers die every day. More people die whilst at work than those fighting wars.
According to the AFL-CIO … “in 2010, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4,690 U.S. workers were killed on the job—an average of 13 workers every day—and an estimated 50,000 died from occupational diseases. Workers suffer an additional 7.6 million to 11.4 million job injuries and illnesses each year.”

So who is the real terrorist?

P.S. - More industrial murder.  April 23rd in Bangladesh, over 1000+ workers were killed and hundreds trapped and injured when a garment factory building collapsed.  That morning, management sent workers to work, even though the building had developed big cracks, and so they went inside. The owner defied the police who had closed the building, and said it was OK.  The Gap & Walmart are opposing building standards in the 'free trade' zone in Dahka.  This disaster came after a modern "Triangle Shirtwaist" factory fire in 2012 burned 112 workers alive at Tarzen Fashion in Bangladesh  There were several smaller fires in a garment plants before that.  So far, 700 have died in these kind of accidents.  The Bangladeshi government is a version of dictatorial Islamic capitalism, but Bangladeshi workers are becoming more militant.  May they overthrow this criminal government.

Red Frog
April 20, 2013

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