News & Notes

Thursday

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Could Mount to More Than 20,000 Cases, WHO Says

In a worst-case scenario, World Health Organization projects a six-fold increase in Ebola cases in West Africa. In all, the outbreak in West Africa eventually could exceed 20,000 cases, which would mean a likely death toll of up to 10,000. The WHO made the projections in a plan released today on how to stop the outbreak. The latest figures show that 1,552 people have died from the virus from among the 3,069 cases reported so far in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria. However, the WHO said the actual number of cases in many hard-hit areas already may be two to four times higher. ‘‘This far outstrips any historic Ebola outbreak in numbers. The largest outbreak in the past was about 400 cases,’’ a WHO official told reporters. The U.S. National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, announced it will start testing an experimental Ebola vaccine in humans next week. The Associated Press

Killing of gun instructor by 9-year-old girl raises the issue of age limits at shooting ranges. The girl, on vacation with her parents at the Last Stop shooting range in White Hills, Ariz., accidentally shot and killed the instructor, 39-year-old Charles Vacca, while firing an Uzi submachine gun. The shooting touched off a debate on social media among gun-control advocates, parents and gun-rights supporters, with many questioning why the girl’s parents would let her fire such a powerful weapon. E.J. Montini, a columnist for the Arizona Republic newspaper, wrote: “Arizona law allows a minor to possess a weapon if accompanied by a parent, guardian or an instructor. But this type of weapon? It’s time we asked ourselves: Why would a shooting range allow a kid to handle an automatic weapon? Why would a parent? And, most importantly, why would a state?” The Wall Street Journal

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Wednesday

Draft of UN Report on Global Warming Warns of ‘Severe, Pervasive and Irreversible Impacts’

United Nations assessment cites runaway growth in greenhouse gas emissions. In a draft of a major new report, the UN says the rise in heat-trapping gas emissions is raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades. According to the report, higher seas, devastating heat waves, torrential rain and other climate extremes are being felt around the world as a result of human-produced emissions, and those problems are likely to intensify. The report, intended to summarize and restate a string of earlier assessments released over the past year, is to be unveiled in early November. In a separate development, the Obama administration is working to forge an international agreement to compel nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but without ratification from Congress. The New York Times (UN Report), The New York Times (Obama plan)

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A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

When General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress in early April to apologize for the company’s 10-year cover-up of a lethal safety defect, it was a headline-grabbing moment. But it was not unprecedented. Hovering over  Barra was the ghost of another momentous GM mea culpa, delivered to Congress nearly half a century ago. On […]

FairWarning Investigates

A wage theft protest in Seattle. Photo credit to Alex Garland/Demotix.

Fear Stifles Complaints of Wage Abuse

Karim Ameri decided to play hardball after learning that his Los Angeles recycling business was under investigation for allegedly failing to pay the minimum wage or overtime to workers putting in 60-hour weeks. Court records say Ameri pressured employees of Recycling Innovations, a string of bottle-and-can redemption centers, to lie to federal officials about his […]

A Walmart Warehouse Workers for Justice protest in Illinois. Photo credit to Peoplesworld/Flickr/Creative Commons.

Pay Violations Rampant in Low-Wage Industries Despite Enforcement Efforts

For workers stuck on the bottom rung, living on poverty wages is hard enough. But many also are victims of wage theft, a catch-all term for payroll abuses that cheat workers of income they are supposedly guaranteed by law. Over the last few years employers ranging from baseball’s San Francisco Giants to Subway franchises to […]

Despite High Death Toll, Push Is On To Open More Public Roads to ATVs

Despite High Death Toll, Push Is On To Open More Public Roads to ATVs

Last Mother’s Day, Jaret Graham, 14, climbed on the back of an all-terrain vehicle driven by his 12-year-old cousin. As they sped down a paved stretch of country road in west Texas, the 12-year-old lost control, went into a ditch and fell off the vehicle, injuring his leg. Jaret was thrown off and hit his […]

Jacob Helvey. (The Helvey family.)

Elevator Safety Flaws Persist Despite History of Tragic Accidents

A type of elevator increasingly found in townhouses and single-family homes has been involved in rare but horrific injuries to small children, and the manufacturers have long been aware of the problem. But the companies, which set their own voluntary standards through an industry-dominated committee, have yet to address the hazard.

(iStockphoto)

Labor Department Investigating Pay Practices of 2 Major League Baseball Teams

Two Major League Baseball clubs–the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins—are under investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible federal wage law violations. The investigations come amid wider concern about questionable pay practices throughout professional baseball, according to interviews and records obtained by FairWarning under the Freedom of Information Act.

Legal Battles Smolder Six Decades After 'the Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History'

Legal Battles Smolder Six Decades After ‘the Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History’

It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer — and then bragging about the health benefits. That’s what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented “Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos.

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FairWarining Commentary

A Little History and a Reality Check on GM Safety Scandal

When General Motors CEO Mary Barra appeared before Congress in early April to apologize for the company’s 10-year cover-up of a lethal safety defect, it was a headline-grabbing moment. But it was not unprecedented. Hovering over  Barra was the ghost of another momentous GM mea culpa, delivered to Congress nearly half a century ago. On […]

It’s Time to Accelerate the Shift to a Low-Carbon Future

In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There […]

FairWarining Commentary

GM Ignition Switch Scandal Echoes Infamous Fire-Prone Pickups Case

Recent disclosures about the ignition switch defect in millions of General Motors cars–and the company’s early and secret knowledge of the hazard–are disturbing by themselves. But they are also an eerie echo of the terrible carnage from an earlier, even bigger safety scandal involving millions of fire-prone GM pickup trucks. Thanks to a bailout from […]