Writer: Rick Schmitt

Recent Stories

Air War: A Relentless Whistleblower Once More Girds for Battle Over Aviation Safety

To his supporters, former air marshal Robert MacLean personifies the best traits of whistleblowers, determined to expose the government's dirty laundry, even at high personal cost. To critics, he's an obsessive and even vindictive ex-federal employee who overstepped his bounds. Now he's battling over the need for secondary barriers to keep would-be intruders from reaching the cockpit.

Consumer Protection

Turning Point in Fight to Stop Child Deaths from Window Blinds

Jeremy and Carolyn Eastburn with their daughter, Presley, who died in December 2016 at the age of 4. She was strangled on a custom window blind the family bought for their new home near Houston. Sales of most corded window blinds and shades – products blamed for the [...]

Consumer Protection

Brain Boosters a Gold Mine for Supplements Industry But Benefits Are Hotly Disputed

Loosely regulated dietary supplements have found a rich vein of acceptance among middle-age and older Americans increasingly worried about losing their mental acuity.


Federal Regulators Open Investigation Amid Reports of Exhaust Fumes Wafting into Ford Explorers

Federal regulators are investigating a possible defect in Ford Explorers following scores of complaints about exhaust and carbon monoxide pouring into the passenger compartments of the popular SUVs.

Consumer Protection

Some Companies Break Ranks to Halt Risk of Kids Dying from Window Cords

Over the years, more than 300 children in the U.S., most under age two, have died from strangling on window cords. Despite calls from safety experts and parents groups, manufacturers and retailers have continued to sell window blinds and shades with pull cords. But now, a few companies are breaking ranks


Railroad Vindicated as Judge Rejects Claim of Legal Corruption in Arbitration Case

A federal judge today rejected an allegation of legal corruption against BNSF Railway Co., ruling that a former company executive didn’t threaten to blackball an arbitrator to win a favorable ruling in a dispute with a fired worker.

Categories: Labor  Tags: Workplace | 2 Comments
Consumer Protection

Feds Want to Run Flimsy Motorcycle Helmets Off the Road

A fatal motorcycle accident in San Diego County on Jan. 30, 2011. (CAL FIRE San Diego) After years of inaction, federal regulators are trying to crack down on the use of cheap novelty helmets linked to thousands of motorcycle crash deaths and injuries in recent years. The novelty [...]

Consumer Protection

As More Imported Foods Reach the Dinner Table, Holes Remain in FDA Safety Net

The FDA has been outgunned and overmatched for years as a rising tide of imported food has found a place at the U.S. dinner table. Because of budget constraints ordinarily only 1 percent to 2 percent of food imports are physically inspected by the agency at the border each year.

Consumer Protection

Booming Sales of Novelty Helmets Boost Toll of Motorcycle Deaths

Every year, hundreds of motorcycle riders die in crashes they would have survived had they been wearing helmets that meet a government safety standard instead of so-called novelty helmets. Yet sales of the substandard helmets are booming, and federal authorities have failed to crack down.

Consumer Protection

Despite Death Toll, Motorcycle Groups Strive to Muzzle U.S. Regulators

While the highway death toll is going down, motorcycle fatalities have increased to 4,500 per year, or about one in seven traffic deaths. Yet motorcycle groups continue fighting to preserve what is essentially a gag order on regulators to keep them from promoting or enforcing safety requirements. "This is... an interesting and dangerous road they are going down,'' as one safety advocate put it.