Manufacturing Rewind: Walmart's Labor Woes, Bernanke On The '08 Financial Crisis

Check out some of this week's top headlines from across, from ghost guns to Boeing's botched batteries. In other news, Wal-Mart was accused of labor violations, and Congress settled on a $1.1 trillion budget bill.

 Every Friday, we will be rounding up the biggest news items of the week. Check out some of this week's top headlines from across, from ghost guns to Boeing's botched batteries.


Gov't Charges Wal-Mart With Labor Violations

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal officials filed a formal complaint Wednesday charging that Wal-Mart violated the rights of workers who took part in protests and strikes against the company.

The National Labor Relations Board says Wal-Mart illegally fired, disciplined or threatened more than 60 employees in 14 states for participating in legally protected activities to complain about wages and working conditions at the nation's largest retailer.

The labor board's general counsel first laid out similar charges in November, but held off on filing a complaint while trying to work out a settlement with Wal-Mart. Those discussions were not successful, government officials said in a statement.

The company has insisted its actions were legal and justified. Continue Reading...


Bernanke Likens '08 Financial Crisis To Car Crash

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In his final public appearance as chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke took a moment to reflect on the 2008 financial crisis and compared it to surviving a bad car crash.

During an interview Thursday at the Brookings Institution, Bernanke recalled some "very intense periods" during the crisis, similar to trying to keep a car from going over a bridge after a collision.

The government had just taken over mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Lehman Brothers had collapsed. He recalled some sleepless nights working with others to try and contain the damage.

"If you're in a car wreck or something, you're mostly involved in trying to avoid going off the bridge. And then, later on, you say, 'Oh my God!'" Bernanke said. Continue reading...


Manufacturing Needs More ‘Post-Mortems’

Dig deep enough on the corporate website for many software-based companies and you’ll find seemingly innocuous little documents called “post-mortems,” in which some technically-oriented employee explains in detail the nature of a recent downtime or failure. These explanations serve various purposes, depending on who’s reading — some are simply interested in the product, and want to be aware of its status; others want to know why something they depend on wasn’t working, and whether it will continue working reliably in the future. A third, and most critical group or readers, consists of other technical people who take from the post-mortem a sliver of knowledge to bring to their own operations.

A post-mortem could elaborate on a method of thinking about software development, or a very nuanced flaw in a particular piece of software — a “bug,” as the common phrase goes. They’re generally made in the interest of disclosing information rather than burying it away for fear of bad press, and they’re generally beneficial to the community. It spurs interest at the very least, and informs others in the best of situations. Continue reading...


Boeing Confirms New 787 Battery Incident

Battery problems resurfaced on Boeing's 787 on Tuesday, after gas was discovered coming out of a battery on a plane parked in Tokyo.

Boeing said the problem on a Japan Airlines 787 was discovered during scheduled maintenance. No passengers were on board. The company said it appears that a single battery cell "vented," or released gas.

The incident comes a year after a fire in a lithium ion battery aboard a Japan Airlines 787 parked at Boston's Logan International Airport. That was followed nine days later by another battery incident that forced an emergency landing in Japan by an All Nippon Airways 787. Continue reading...


'Ghost Gun' Regulations Pushed In California Bill

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- The "ghost guns" that can slip through metal detectors and be assembled at home without safeguards are spurring efforts in California and elsewhere to bring these weapons and their owners out of the shadows.

A state lawmaker proposed legislation Monday to make background checks and gun registrations requirements for anyone who builds plastic firearms on a 3-D printer at home. The bill by state Sen. Kevin de Leon also would apply to anyone who buys parts that can be assembled into a gun.

It's part of a growing effort across the country to pre-empt the spread of these undetectable guns. Continue reading...


Dozens Of Trade-Offs In $1.1T Budget Bill

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year is getting generally positive reviews from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming in 10 months.

Veteran Republicans said the generally positive response to the all-encompassing spending bill reflected the desire of the rank and file to avoid a repeat of the politically damaging budget standoffs with the White House that led to last year's 16-day partial government shutdown. The government closure sent congressional approval numbers plummeting and roughed up Republicans in particular. They've regained support amid the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law.

"The shutdown educated — particularly our younger members who weren't here during our earlier shutdown — about how futile that practice is," said House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "There is a real hard determination now that we will reacquire and use the power of the purse that the Congress constitutionally has been given." Continue reading...

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