660 mile round trip at 94 years young – to vote

When a Michigan 94-year-old didn’t receive her absentee ballot, she took her civic duty to the next level.

Mildred Madison insisted that she had to vote early and in person instead, but to make that happen, her son had to drive her more than 600 miles round trip…

Trump’s postal service didn’t deliver her absentee ballot. She’s been ill and staying with her son in Illinois. So, no ballot arrives. Mrs Madison and her son get in his car and roundtrip it 660 miles in one day back to Detroit to vote.

That’s what Power to the People means to the best of American citizens. Practice your rights!

Detroit Wall, 1941

August 1941. “Negro children standing in front of half-mile concrete wall, Detroit, Michigan. This wall was built in August 1941 to separate the Negro section from a white housing development going up on the other side.”

The wall still stands, mostly because it would be a pain to take it down, but now it’s just a backyard wall. Some sections have been repurposed as murals, like the one…showing Rosa Parks catching the bus.

Times change even if some people don’t have the courage to change.

Detroit police called on man for banking while Black

A US man is suing a bank in Detroit after employees called the police when he tried to deposit cheques at their branch.

Sauntore Thomas had attempted to put in money he had won after settling a racial discrimination lawsuit against his former employer.

But the bank allegedly said they would have to verify the cheques. As Mr Thomas waited, the police arrived.

TCF bank has since apologised to Mr Thomas…

The bank said they could not validate Mr Thomas’s cheques and said they take extra precautions when large sums of money are involved.

But Mr Thomas, a US Air Force veteran, is now prosecuting the bank. “They discriminated against me because I’m black. None of this would have happened if I were white,” he told the Free Press.

He called his lawyer who provided them with proof of the settlement…they still wouldn’t accept his deposit…and called the cops.

Mummy found in car at foreclosed Detroit home

Detroit mummy

For at least five years, the woman’s body lay clothed in a winter jacket in the backseat of her Jeep in the garage of a home where she lived alone.

Her bills were automatically deducted from her bank account, and residents of the quiet middle-class Pontiac neighborhood said they noticed nothing amiss.

Nobody saw her, but the grass was cut and the mail didn’t pile up. Some neighbors said they thought she had moved out of the country after the recession hit several years ago.

Eventually, the money in her bank account ran out and the house went into foreclosure, leading to the gruesome discovery this week.

The body had mummified…adding to the mystery.

A contractor the bank sent to check out the house discovered the body Wednesday in the attached garage of the ranch-style home on Savanna Drive, according to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Department.

Undersheriff Mike McCabe said investigators believe the woman has been dead since at least 2008. That’s the year the license plate on the Jeep expired…

The undersheriff said neighbors told deputies they thought the woman had moved out of the country because they had not seen her for three or more years.

An autopsy showed there was no trauma to the body; a cause of death is pending, McCabe said.

Dr. Bernardino Pacris, the Oakland County deputy medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, said the skin was intact, though internal organs had decomposed. He said he found no evidence of internal or external injuries…

Pacris said the body was on the backseat and clothed in a heavy jacket and jeans, leading him to believe the woman may have died when the weather was cold. The key was in the ignition, but in the off position, Pacris said.

Which removed my first thought on her death. I’ve known a couple folks took the blue jaunte in the back seat of their car.

She obviously wasn’t out of bucks and had bills prepaid including, I guess, lawn care.

Never turn back…


Click to enlarge“Sadly not enough has changed and in some regards things are much worse”

Edith Lee-Payne of Detroit holds a famous photo of her attending the March on Washington in 1963 – the day of her birthday. She attended this year’s 50th Anniversary.

Koch Brothers make a market in the dirtiest fuel on Earth


Click to enlarge

Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom…And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November…

An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there.

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here…

Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore…

Coke, which is mainly carbon, is an essential ingredient in steelmaking as well as producing the electrical anodes used to make aluminum…While there is high demand from both those industries, the small grains and high sulfur content of this petroleum coke make it largely unusable for those purposes, said Kerry Satterthwaite, a petroleum coke analyst at Roskill Information Services, a commodities analysis company based in London.

It is worse than a byproduct,” Ms. Satterthwaite said.“It’s a waste byproduct that is costly and inconvenient to store, but effectively costs nothing to produce…”

The Environmental Protection Agency will no longer allow any new licenses permitting the burning of petroleum coke in the United States. But D. Mark Routt, a staff energy consultant at KBC Advanced Technologies in Houston, said that overseas companies saw it as a cheap alternative to low-grade coal. In China, it is used to generate electricity, adding to that country’s air-quality problems. There is also strong demand from India and Latin America for American petroleum coke, where it mainly fuels cement-making kilns.

“I’m not making a value statement, but it comes down to emission controls,” Mr. Routt said. “Other people don’t seem to have a problem, which is why it is going to Mexico, which is why it is going to China.”

“One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” he said. One of the world’s largest dealers of petroleum coke is the Oxbow Corporation, which sells about 11 million tons of fuel-grade coke a year. It is owned by William I. Koch, a brother of David and Charles.

The people who deal in this deadly waste, who care less than any other clique in American capitalism about the lives, lifestyle and lifespan of ordinary American citizens – stockpile this crap alongside a metropolitan river. After turning an extra profit from a dirty byproduct of the dirtiest fuel source on Earth – they couldn’t care less about the air and water they befoul where they store this petro-coke before shipping it off to be burned. Then, in turn, the Koch Bros. profit from fouling the air of the whole planet.

Six-year study confirms breast cancer risk for plastics workers


Breast cancer victim, Carol Bristow – 23 years in a plastic auto parts factory in Windsor

WINDSOR, Ontario — For more than three decades, workers, most of them women, have complained of dreadful conditions in many of this city’s plastic automotive parts factories: Pungent fumes and dust that caused nosebleeds, headaches, nausea and dizziness. Blobs of smelly, smoldering plastic dumped directly onto the floor. “It was like hell,” says one woman who still works in the industry.

The women fretted, usually in private, about what seemed to be an excess of cancer and other diseases in the factories across the river from Detroit. “People were getting sick, but you never really thought about the plastic itself,” said Gina DeSantis, who has worked at a plant near Windsor for 25 years.

Now, workers like DeSantis are the focal point of a new study that appears to strengthen the tie between breast cancer and toxic exposures.

The six-year study, conducted by a team of researchers from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, examined the occupational histories of 1,006 women from Ontario’s Essex and Kent counties who had the disease and 1,146 who didn’t. Adjustments were made for smoking, weight, alcohol use and other lifestyle and reproductive factors.

The results, published online today in the journal Environmental Health, are striking: Women employed in the automotive plastics industry were almost five times as likely to develop breast cancer, prior to menopause, as women in the control group.

These workers may handle an array of carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting chemicals. They include the hardening agent bisphenol A (BPA) — whose presence in polycarbonate water bottles and other products has unnerved some consumers — plus solvents, heavy metals and flame retardants.

Sandy Knight, who worked at two Windsor plastics plants from 1978 to 1998, had a breast cancer scare in 2000, when she was 41. The cancer was at Stage III — “invasive and fast-growing…”…She had a single mastectomy and, following 10 years of hormonal treatment, is in remission…

“Why am I speaking to people today, in 2012, who are doing the same processes I did in 1980?” Knight asked. “It just seems like we’re fighting the same battle. A lot of these chemicals should be removed from the workplace…”

These workplace chemicals are now present in our air, water, food and consumer products,” said one of the two principal investigators, James Brophy, an adjunct faculty member at the University of Windsor and a former occupational health clinic director. “If we fail to take heed then we are doing so at our own peril.”

RTFA for a long, predictable tale that – to me – is an indictment of North American industries focussed on profit at any cost to workers. Lives lost improving the balance sheet are justified as far as corporate directors are concerned. Industry associations feel they have no stake in health and safety – and federal regulatory agencies care about as much as they did, say, when granting oil drilling leases or evaluating residential mortgage backed securities during the reign of Bush and Cheney.

This study tells us what resulted from the last six years of exposure to these chemicals. What of the decades of women that lived and died in this industry before the study?

It takes shooter two tries to be arrested for murder in Detroit!

A man suspected of fatally shooting two men and seriously wounding two others had to turn himself in twice before Detroit police would arrest him…

Detroit police said the 36-year-old man got into an argument at a party on Saturday, retrieved a gun and opened fire. Four people were shot, and two died. The man turned himself in at a fire station about two hours later, and fire officials called police, but no officers turned up.

Police said in a statement that “due to area patrol units being busy handling high priority runs, no units were dispatched to the location.”

The man eventually went to a police station, where he was arrested

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Eren Stephens told The Associated Press on Sunday that the department would examine what police units were doing at the time the suspect tried to surrender…

Detroit police have undergone serious personnel cuts under Mayor Dave Bing’s state-supervised effort to close a large budget deficit and avoid a state financial takeover. The city recently imposed a 10 percent pay cut and 12-hour work day for officers.

Stephens said the police department wouldn’t immediately comment on the adequacy of its staffing.

If you follow state politics around the USA since the 2010 elections and the silliness that has followed in the footsteps of the Kool Aid Party and the Republican rollover for beancounters — you ain’t going to be surprised by this tale.

Using a law passed by the conservative-run state legislature, Michigan is suffering under municipalities taken over and run by hacks appointed by the Republican governor. The Detroit mayor’s cost cutting – in an attempt to keep elected government in place – is understandable if not a Sisyphian task.

Still – even while trying to survive nutball government there needs to be someone inside the police department to establish common sense priorities.

Tell Homeland Security to stop hiring mall cop dropouts!


The bomb was nice and safe under his desk

A federal review cites poor judgment by a security guard who found a bag outside a government building in Detroit last year and stashed it under a desk where it remained for weeks — with neither the guard nor anyone else in the building aware that it contained a bomb…

“Although the IED…did not explode, it represented a risk to the safety and security of the building and its occupants,” the report said.

After the bomb was discovered it was detonated harmlessly by Detroit police. A Michigan man subsequently was charged with placing the device in a canvas bag outside the building.

The canvas bag, containing a small locked Sentry safe, was discovered February 26, 2011, outside the 27-story building that houses the FBI and other offices and remained at the guard desk until it was identified as a threat three weeks later.

During that time, at least two employees X-rayed it in an unsuccessful attempt to determine its contents. One guard shook it in another failed attempt to learn more, and a federal inspector conducted four routine checks of the guard post without discovering that the bag contained an explosive device, according to the report by the inspector general, an independent watchdog…

In addition to receiving refresher training just three months before the incident, the guard was a sergeant with the Detroit Police Department. One FPS official asserted that he was one of the best guards in the building

That fills you with confidence, doesn’t it?

But on the day of the incident, the guard “misidentified the bag as found property and never treated it as suspicious, despite not knowing its contents,” the report said.

The bag was placed under the security desk in the McNamara building, where other security guards did not consider it suspicious because the space was used to store found property and personal belongings…

Following the incident, DECO fired the guard in question…

DECO also fired a guard and a supervisor who X-rayed the bag and incorrectly identified its contents. A second supervisor resigned before being fired, the report said. Numerous others were suspended, given written warnings, or retrained, it said.

You shouldn’t be surprised when a whole new class of security is instituted on behalf of a paranoid nation, batshit cowardly bureaucrats plus the usual cluster of opportunist politicians. You get screwups led by fools – operating with rules drawn up by politicians.