Legislators pressed the head of General Motors Tuesday to disclose who knew what and when regarding the automaker’s faulty ignition switches that led to at least a dozen deaths. The answer, for the most part: Stay tuned.
GM CEO Mary Barra told a House subcommittee her company’s internal investigation is ongoing, pledging to provide answers on the decadelong problem that only recently led to the recall of millions of cars.
Time after time, Barra responded to questions with some version of “I don’t know,” but promised that an improved corporate culture since she took GM’s helm earlier this year would yield answers and prevent future problems. For many questions, Barra alluded to the investigation being conducted by former U.S. Attorney Anton Valukas, saying his report will shed more light on the queries she was unable to answer.
That wasn’t good enough for some legislators. “I hold in my hands a February report and a March report to [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration],” said Rep. Paul Tonko. “I’m confused somewhat about that fair amount of knowledge that has been formally exchanged to NHTSA. At the same time, we’re hearing, ‘We don’t know until the investigation is complete.’ There’s a conflict here.”
Rep. Tim Murphy, chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee, asked Barra if she’d even read the report that GM submitted to the committee. Barra said she hadn’t, citing its 200,000-page length.
The problem stemmed from GM’s small-vehicle line. A faulty spring in some cars’ ignition switches led the vehicles to shut off after bumps, killing the engine and inhibiting braking, steering, and airbag deployment.
As far back as 2002, GM knew that the switch was not up to its specifications. Engineers looked at the problem in 2004 and 2005, ultimately deciding to advise drivers to keep heavy objects off their key chains.
Then in 2007, NHTSA was made aware of fatalities resulting from the ignition flaw, but did not investigate further. Not until February did GM begin to issue recalls on its vehicles.
The cost to replace an ignition switch totaled no more than a couple dollars, said Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman. Barra said cost considerations overriding safety concerns would be a serious problem if it proved to be true.
During the hearing, Barra also revealed that attorney Kenneth Feinberg would advise GM on compensation for victims.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”