Archive for October 22nd, 2009

The CPSC’s searchable data base regarding dangerous products

| October 22, 2009 | 1 Reply
The CPSC’s searchable data base regarding dangerous products

Here’s an idea that is so obvious and so important that we can expect to see great political pressure to dismantle it. In accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), the Consumer Product Safety Comission (CPSC) is assembling its public database which will be a central location:

[W]here consumers can go to report product safety incidents, and to search for prior incidents and recalls on products they own, or may be thinking about buying. In conjunction with the web site launch, CPSC will also conduct a public awareness campaign to raise awareness of SaferProducts.gov.

The reason for the database is to “Protect and Inform the Public,” according to the CPSC’s recent report, which further provides that the database information:

• provides more timely dissemination of alerts and other information to the public and industry,
• increases public access to product incident and recall data by making consumer product safety information available more rapidly, and
• provides a publicly available, searchable, and easy-to-use database for use by consumers, industry, and CPSC staff.

This CPSC database is not yet operational, but by March 11, 2011 (according to the current CPSC report), any consumer will be able to post complaints regarding dangerous products on this national database. The CPSC will review these complaints for accuracy. According to the CPSC,

All incident data submitted via SaferProducts.gov will be subject to CPSC review to verify its authenticity – that the submitters are who they say they are. Any data or incident reports found to be materially inaccurate will either be corrected or will not be published. Furthermore, CPSC will have the ability to remove or correct incident data that has already been published should it determine that the data is materially inaccurate.

This all sounds like a good idea, right? I think so. I would make this prediction, though. There is going to be a massive outcry from the Chamber of Commerce regarding this database and huge push in Congress to make the database less useful. Admittedly, such a database will embarrass and damage manufacturers of dangerous products. If misused, it could damage compliant manufacturers, and that would be a bad thing too. The focus should be on protecting consumers from dangerous products, though.

If I’m sounding overly-concerned that the Chamber will try to bring down the database, it’s because I just read an article called “The CPSC’s Searchable Consumer Product Incident Database,” in October 2009 issue of For the Defense, a publication of the Defense Lawyer Institute. The article repeatedly takes the position that consumers will be irresponsibly reporting incidents of dangerous products. Here’s an excerpt:

Under the plan as currently proposed, the consumer submitting an incident report is not required to provide any proof or evidence to support the alleged incident. Instead, the consumer is only required to “click” on an electronic button next to an existing webpage statement that indicates that the consumer verifies “that the information is true and accurate to the best of my knowledge.”

Horrors! Consumers will merely report what they think happened without any “‘proof or evidence”! I suppose that the manufacturers will insist that nothing should go on the database unless either A) there is already a trial where the widow of the guy who was electrocuted by the toaster prevails or B) where the manufacturer and the consumer agree to the facts.

Here’s another excerpt from the lawyers representing the manufacturers (from the same DRI article):

Without procedures to prevent the disclosure of inaccurate reports pertaining to a company’s products, the Internet publication of inaccurate, accessible, anonymous consumer product incident reports will be inevitable.

Anonymous? See the above portion of the CPSC report requiring the CPSC to verify “that the submitters are who they say they are.” Inaccurate? See the above portion of the CPSC report: “Any data or incident reports found to be materially inaccurate will either be corrected or will not be published.”

So what would the manufacturers propose to protect consumers from products that explode, cut or burn consumers? Here’s what I suspect: that there would be no publicly accessible CPSC database, and that most consumers would remain as they are today–in the dark.

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Remote control war – a look at the daily grind of Predator pilots

| October 22, 2009 | 11 Replies
Remote control war – a look at the daily grind of Predator pilots

What’s it like to kill human beings by dropping bombs with the push of buttons on your computer keyboard 7,000 miles away? Imaging doing this every work day, then driving home to hug your wife and kids every night. This video from FrontLine will give you a good idea of what it’s like. Whatever your emotional reaction to this form of “warfare,” you will find someone agreeing with you (and disagreeing with you) in the comments following the video.

If our enemies were using robotic planes to drop bombs on American soil, I suspect that we’d be outraged, much more than by conventional warfare. This is certainly a sterile way of war, no matter how much the supervisors remind the pilots that they are killing human beings.

If I understood why we are at “war” in Afghanistan and Iraq, maybe then I could understand whether these drones are furthering our “war objectives.”

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When We Were Ten

| October 22, 2009 | Reply
When We Were Ten

My sister Pat was the first, followed by her Irish Twin Eileen. Irish Twins are when you have two kids in one calendar year. Patricia Marie Hogan was born January 1, 1949 and Eileen Ann Hogan was born November 23, 1949. Dan (Daniel n/m/n) Hogan was born in 1952, and Susan Ann Hogan two years after that. Timothy Eves Hogan was born December 6, 1955.

I began growing up at the same time America began growing up. The very week of my birth, in Alabama, Ms. Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. I believe this action set a pattern for my life. If I think I am right, you will not move me. You may remove me but, unless you persuade me otherwise, you are stuck with me as I am. Some say this contributed to my being married for the first time at age 41 but, I say it took me that long to find the right woman.

My sister Mary Lee Hogan was born the next year, and for one day Susan, I and Mary Lee are three in a row for our ages. My brother Thomas Joseph Hogan was born in the 60’s and followed by a sister Julie Ann Hogan, another brother Terrence Gerard Hogan, and finally our baby sister Tracy Ann Hogan. All told, there were 10 siblings, my mom and dad and one or two dogs and anywhere from two to 14 cats in our house at any given time.

We grew up worshiping the Holy Trinity; being Irish, Catholic and Democrats. We lived in an area of St. Louis County known as Richmond Heights, Missouri which according to legend was named such by a young US Army Lieutenant Robert E. Lee because the area reminded him of Richmond, Virginia. I don’t know about that but, the area was home to our family. Our Parish, St. Luke the Evangelist, took in parts of Richmond Heights, Maplewood, Clayton and parts of an area in the City of St. Louis known as Dogtown. Our family was no where near the largest in the Parish as there were many families with 11 or more kids, topped by the Powers family with 15.

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