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Thursday
Aug092012

GE Recalls 1.3 Million Dishwashers over Fire Hazard

SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- General Electric is recalling 1.3 million dishwashers over an electrical problem that could cause a fire.

Fifteen reports of electrical failures in the appliance's heating element have been submitted to GE, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday.  While no one has been injured, seven of those reports resulted in fires, three of which caused extensive property damage.

The recall affects GE, GE Adora, GE Eterna, GE Profile and Hotpoint models sold between March 2006 and August 2009.

[CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF AFFECTED DISHWASHERS]

Anyone with a faulty dishwasher is advised to stop using it immediately and disconnect its power supply by shutting off the fuse or circuit breaker controlling it.  Consumers should then contact GE for a free in-home repair or to get a rebate towards the purchase of a new GE dishwasher.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Feb132012

GE to Hire 5,000 Veterans, Expand Its Aviation Business

SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Good news for veterans who are out of work: General Electric announced on Monday it will be hiring 5,000 vets over the next five years.

The move comes as the company kicks off a four-day event in Washington, D.C., on Monday, "dedicated to America’s long-term economic and industry growth with discussions centered around manufacturing, innovation and jobs," GE said in a statement.

GE will partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the “Hiring our Heroes” initiative and sponsor 400 job fairs across the country this year.

Along with adding more veterans to its workforce, GE also unveiled plans to expand its aviation business in 2012.  The company says it will invest $580 million, "in the expansion of its manufacturing and research & development footprints in the U.S." -- promising to add more than 400 new manufacturing jobs and open three new plants in the country next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct202011

Federal Reserve Board Rife with Conflict of Interest, GAO Report

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The makeup of the Federal Reserve’s board of directors poses a conflict of interest and there is concern that several financial firms and corporations could have reaped monetary benefits from their executives’ close ties to the Fed, according to a new report released Wednesday by the Government Accountability Office.

In one case, the Federal Reserve consulted with General Electric on the creation of a commercial paper funding facility and then provided $16 billion in financing to the company while its chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, served as a director on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Immelt is now President Obama’s “jobs czar.”

JP Morgan Chase could also have benefited from its chief executive Jamie Dimon’s position on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, according to the GAO.  The bank received emergency loans from the Federal Reserve at the same time it served as the clearinghouse for the Fed’s emergency lending program.

The Federal Reserve gave JP Morgan Chase an 18-month exemption from risk-based leverage and capital requirements in 2008, the same year that the Fed gave it $29 billion to acquire Bear Stearns, according to the GAO.

Similarly, Lehman Brothers’ chief executive Richard Fuld served on the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the same time one of its subsidiaries participated in the Fed’s emergency programs.

The Federal Reserve system has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, particularly for the structure of its board of directors.  Executives of banks and companies that are regulated by the Fed, and that receive emergency funding from it, often serve on the board.

“Without more complete documentation of the directors’ roles and responsibilities with regard to the supervision and regulation functions, as well as increased public disclosure on governance practices to enhance accountability and transparency, questions about Reserve Bank governance will remain,” the report states, adding that such affiliations “could create reputational risk for the Reserve Banks.”

The GAO did state that it “did not find evidence that Reserve Bank boards of directors participated directly in making any decisions about authorizing, setting the terms of, or approving a borrower’s participation in the emergency programs.”

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a letter to the GAO that the bank will consider ways to amend the bylaws to clearly explain the role of the directors.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Aug242011

Working on Jobs Plan, President Obama Speaks to Amex, GE CEOs

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On a day that the Congressional Budget Office predicted slow economic growth, and an unemployment rate still over 8 percent by the end of next year, the White House says President Obama continues to work on his new jobs plan during his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. And the president is taking some advice.

On Wednesday, Obama talked to his friend and GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt and American Express CEO Ken Chenault, who both serve on the president’s jobs council. Some of their ideas included finding ways to increase the number of college educated engineers, and putting construction workers to work retrofitting old buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Stimulus may be a dirty word in Washington, but it will be part of the president’s new jobs plan.

“We're going to have some additional ideas that should have some bipartisan support,” principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told the traveling White House Press corps in Martha’s Vineyard. But that’s exactly what the White House has said for months now, only to have Republicans refuse to play ball.

“And the president's articulated his frustration about that.  He's pointed out that the American people voted for divided government, but they didn't vote for dysfunctional government,” Earnest said.

The president was briefed Wednesday by Brian Deese of his economic team. Earnest says that team is still working on the nuts and bolts of the plan.

The White House says the president’s plan will have “aspects that will be new” including efforts to cut more than the $1.5 trillion the Congressional “Super-Committee” has been tasked with cutting. The speech is still planned for “shortly after” Labor Day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May262011

Walmart Recalls GE Food Processors After Injuries, Fires Reported

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission(WASHINGTON) -- Walmart issued a recall Wednesday of 255,000 food processors after receiving reports that the product caused fires and injuries to consumers' fingertips.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said the recall affects GE-branded, 14-cup food processors that were sold at the retail giant's U.S. stores and website for about $50 between September 2009 and February 2011.  The black and stainless steel-trimmed processors were made in China and have a model number of 169203.

Walmart has received 58 complaints about the product, 21 of which led to fingertip injuries and three of which resulted in fires.

According to the CPSC, the food processor's safety interlock system can fail, allowing it to start without its lid on and, therefore, pose a laceration threat to consumers.  The appliance could also emit smoke and catch fire.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar312011

GE CEO Immelt to ABC News: 'People Get to Think What They Think'

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- News that General Electric made $14 billion in profits in 2010 but paid zero in federal taxes has led to liberal leaders like former Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wisc., and MoveOn to call for President Obama to show the door to GE CEO Jeff Immelt, the chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
 
Immelt was even roasted on late-night comedy programs like the Daily Show.

The criticism has also been intense with labor leaders arguing that under Immelt, GE has shed jobs and expanded outsourcing.

ABC News' Jake Tapper spoke with Immelt in Washington, D.C., Thursday and asked him about the criticism.

TAPPER:  Since you became CEO, GE has shed jobs and a lot of jobs have gone overseas…

IMMELT: Jake it’s really not true. In other words, we’ve sold half the company since I’ve been CEO.  If you take that out, our job growth is up and if you look at our core infrastructure and technology it’s up 30% and if you look at what we’ve  done post-crisis, we’ve added 6,500 manufacturing jobs and so I just think you have to get in the second layer of the analysis.

TAPPER: What do you make of the criticism of the people who say you should step down, you’re not a good role model for the business community?

IMMELT: Look, I am completely committed to doing a good job, working with the president and I’m completely focused in that regard on building jobs and competitiveness in the U.S. and I will do my best to do a good job with it. People get to think what they think.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

MoveOn Calls on GE CEO to Resign from White House Post

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- MoveOn joined former Senator Russ Feingold’s group, Progressives United, on Wednesday to call on GE CEO Jeff Immelt to resign from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. MoveOn’s petition comes on the heels of reports that GE made $14.2 billion in profit and paid no federal taxes.

In their email, MoveOn states, “Immelt now sits as chair of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (Jobs Council), representing corporate America to the President on matters like job creation and corporate taxation. That's a slap in the face to every hardworking, tax-paying American—especially GE employees.”

After sending the email, MoveOn’s executive director, Justin Ruben, said “it is outrageous that GE made more than $14 billion in profits last year and paid no federal taxes.”

“At a time when many in Washington, including the President, are worried about our nation’s deficit we should be punishing -- not rewarding -- companies like GE who are robbing the US Government and taxpayers of billions of dollars. This sort of bad corporate behavior should not be rewarded with a top White House appointment. Jeff Immelt should resign immediately,” Ruben said.

Feingold has also called for Immelt to step down in an email to supporters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar212011

General Electric Defends Nuclear Plant Design

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- General Electric has released a paper defending the performance of its nuclear reactor in Japan, and said the "station blackout" caused by the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami went beyond anything they had contemplated when the plant's containment system was designed four decades ago.

"Coincident long-term loss of both on-site and off-site power for an extended period of time is a beyond-design-basis event for the primary containment on any operating nuclear power plant," the paper says.

GE emailed the 21-page paper to reporters over the weekend after a series of unflattering reports about the history of the Mark 1 reactor that was in use at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Northeast Japan. Questions have persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power. The design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan, where a series of explosions and the partial melting of radioactive fuel has brought the country to the brink of a nuclear disaster. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant are Mark 1s.

In the 1970s, concerns about the design of the Mark 1 led three top GE scientists to resign in protest and join an anti-nuclear campaign to publicize the dangers of nuclear power. One of those scientists, Dale G. Bridenbaugh, told ABC News that even after a series of modifications aimed at strengthening the Mark 1, that particular design was still less suited to handle the pressures of an emergency similar to the one in Japan.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh said. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release."

It may still be weeks before anyone knows how the Mark 1 containment system performed in the face of this challenge, but GE's paper says the Mark 1 containment vessels "appeared to have held pressure to well above the design pressure."

The manner in which the reactors have responded, the company says, "in general agree[s] with severe accident management studies performed in the 1980s and early 1990s."

Most of the paper is highly technical, but it describes how the company developed a plan to upgrade and strengthen the containment systems once it had officially been warned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it needed to be stronger.

The paper does not say whether the Japanese plants were subject to the same retrofits. GE did not immediately respond to request for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar092011

GE Wages Never-Say-Die Campaign for Jet Engine Contract

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In a never-say-die approach, General Electric's CEO Jeffrey Immelt has vowed to continue to fight for a high-priced military jet engine contract that President Obama, the Pentagon, the U.S. House of Representatives, and the U.S. Senate have all said they don't want.

"GE will continue to press our case in the U.S. Senate and elsewhere," Immelt wrote in a note to aviation workers after the recent House vote to eliminate funding for the company's controversial jet engine. The defeat in the House would not, he said, halt development of the Joint Strike Fighter engine, intended as an alternate for one already built for the futuristic fighter by rival firm Pratt & Whitney.

General Electric has already shelled out millions in relentless pursuit of the engine contract, and its vow to fight on is the latest evidence of the company's aggressive strategy for Washington influence. It is an approach that has helped GE become the nation's top corporate spender on lobbying, spending more than $238 million on lobbyists over the past 12 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- money that has helped GE gain access to the corridors of power and some of the most remote crevices of the governing process.

"It shows what deep lobbying is all about in Washington," said Ellen Miller, a founder of the nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, which monitors the influence industry. "It's lobbying members of Congress, it's being friendly to the administration, it's being all over the agencies."

While the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Association have spent more on lobbying over the past decade, GE sits high atop the list of corporate spenders. AT&T, the nearest competitor, spent $162 million, while Northrop Grumman and Exxon Mobil spent just over $150 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

ABC News requested an interview with Immelt to talk about the company's lobbying strategy. Spokesman Rick Kennedy turned down that request and did not respond to specific questions sent by e-mail about the company's lobbying in general and specifically about the effort to secure the lucrative jet engine contract. Last year, Kennedy told ABC News there was a reason Congress had agreed to fund the development of its engine for years, despite opposition from the Bush and Obama administrations.

"We have been reinstated year after year after year in the budget because the case for competition is simply too compelling for a program of this size," he said. "For this reason, we feel like we're standing on the side of the angels."

An ABC News review of General Electric lobbying found that the company has more than angels on its side -- it has an arsenal of former congressional leaders from both parties, including such well-known figures as former Sen. Trent Lott and former Rep. Dick Gephardt.

Last year, GE also hired Barack Obama's former campaign manager, David Plouffe, as a consultant, according to Plouffe's recently filed financial disclosure forms. It is unclear what Plouffe was hired to do, though his relationship with the president and senior White House staff is close to unparalleled. Plouffe is now back working as a senior advisor to Obama.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan222011

Overdrive Mode on the Economy, Obama Says from GE Plant

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(SCHENECTADY, N.Y.) -- On the floor of the GE plant in Schenectady, N.Y., President Obama on Friday said that with the economy now growing again, it is time to jump into “overdrive mode.”
 
“The past two years were about pulling our economy back from the brink,” Obama said surrounded by workers. “The next two years, our job now, is putting our economy into overdrive.”
 
The president was joined on stage by GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who he announced would become the head of the new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
 
“We think GE has something to teach businesses all across America,” Obama said of Immelt’s leadership role. “He understands what it takes for America to compete in the global economy.”
 
In the coming days the president is expected to announce other members of the council, including business leaders, labor leaders, and economists, which will replace the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Echoing his goal to double U.S. exports in five years, the president said that the success of the efforts will be determined not just on what can be built in places like Schenectady, but also what can be sold in Shanghai.

“For America to compete around the world, we need to export more goods around the world. That's where the customers are. It's that simple.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio