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OceanGate’s Titanic Expedition Marred by Safety Concerns and Lawsuits

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OceanGate, the company behind the ill-fated expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic, finds itself in the midst of a turbulent situation.

Before the recent disappearance of their submersible, the company faced a significant lawsuit from a former employee who alleged he was wrongfully terminated for raising serious safety concerns about the vessel’s diving capabilities, according to reports from Fox News. 

The lawsuit revolves around David Lochridge, a former OceanGate employee who refused to grant approval for manned tests of the submersible due to his apprehensions about its safety. In response, OceanGate filed a lawsuit against Lochridge, accusing him of breaching confidentiality agreements. Lochridge, in turn, filed a counterclaim stating that he was fired by the company for speaking out about the vessel’s safety issues.

According to Lochridge’s counterclaim, he had conducted an inspection that revealed numerous safety concerns with the submersible. The inspection report detailed the issues and provided recommendations for corrective action.

Moreover, during a crucial meeting attended by OceanGate’s CEO, human resources director, and engineering director, Lochridge discovered a critical piece of information. The forward viewport, essential for underwater visibility, was only certified for depths of 1,300 meters, significantly below the intended diving depth of 4,000 meters as planned by OceanGate.

Shockingly, Lochridge learned that OceanGate had opted not to invest in a viewport that met the required depth standards. Instead of addressing the concerns raised or seeking appropriate corrective measures, the company swiftly terminated Lochridge’s employment, giving him a mere ten minutes to leave the premises.

The lawsuit, initially reported by The New Republic, has brought attention to the controversies surrounding OceanGate even before the recent incident involving the missing submersible.

The Titan submersible, carrying OceanGate’s CEO Stockton Rush, British businessman Hamish Harding, members of a prominent Pakistani family, Shahzada and Suleman Dawood, and Paul-Henry Nargeolet, a former French navy officer renowned for his expertise on the Titanic, disappeared during the expedition. A frantic international rescue effort is underway, as the submersible’s oxygen supply is estimated to run out by Thursday morning.

The incident has not only sparked concern for the missing submersible’s occupants but also raised questions about safety standards, decision-making processes, and accountability within OceanGate. The troubled history of the company, as highlighted by the previous lawsuit and allegations of safety negligence, adds further complexity to the situation.

As the search continues and hope for a successful rescue persists, the focus on OceanGate intensifies. The company now faces the challenge of addressing the safety concerns raised and providing explanations for their decision-making. The outcome of this incident will undoubtedly shape the future of OceanGate, potentially affecting its credibility and the confidence of those involved in its operations.

Follow Alexander Carter on Twitter @AlexCarterDC for more!

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Economy

TX farmers fight to block USDA from using race in distributing farm aid

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“When natural disasters strike, they don’t discriminate based on race and sex. Neither should the Department of Agriculture.” That’s the message from a group of farmers written in a court filing made public Monday.

Just The News reports on a group of white farmers in Texas who are asking a federal judge to block the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits to determine who gets disaster and pandemic farm aid and how much, arguing the agency’s current administration of eight emergency funding programs is unconstitutionally discriminatory.

According to Just the News, the USDA’s program appears to be rooted in an executive order that President Joe Biden signed. The lawsuit names the USDA and Biden Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The farmers bringing the action include Rusty Strickland, Alan and Amy West and Bryan Baker, all of Texas.

The farmers, represented by the nonprofit legal firm called the Southeastern Legal Foundation, asked a judge to issue an emergency injunction from the U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas, to stop any additional awards from being made on the basis of race and gender or other liberal standards.

“Enjoining USDA from using race, sex, or progressive factoring when administering the programs is warranted because Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims that: (1) the programs, as currently administered, are unconstitutional; (2) USDA lacks statutory authority to run the programs in their current form; and (3) USDA failed to adequately explain changes in calculating payments when implementing progressive factoring,” the motion stated.

The farmers said the Biden administration has taken roughly $25 billion in disaster and pandemic aid approved by Congress for farmers in eight programs and devised a system to make awards based on race, gender or other “socially disadvantaged” traits. Such decision-making violates the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment and the Administrative Procedures Act.

“The Constitution promises equal treatment to all Americans regardless of their race or sex,” the court filing also reads. “It also promises the separation of powers. USDA broke both promises through the disaster and pandemic relief programs challenged here.”

The farmers said they can prove that “USDA gives more money to some farmers based on” race, gender or other factors never approved by Congress.

“USDA does this by first defining farmers who are black/African-American, American Indian, Alaskan native, Hispanic, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, or a woman as ‘socially disadvantaged,’” the court filing said. “Then, it provides farmers who qualify as socially disadvantaged more money for the same loss than those it deems non-underserved, along with other preferential treatment”

Just the News explains the request for an injunction relies in part of the Supreme Court’s landmark decision last year banning racial preferences in college admissions. It even quoted from the high court’s declaration that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”.

“Disasters don’t discriminate and neither should USDA. In fact, the Constitution prohibits it,” the lawyers said in a statement. “That is why our brave clients – a group of Texas farmers that includes three white men who received significantly less money in disaster relief funds from USDA than if they had been of a different race or sex – filed this case and are asking the court to stop USDA’s blatant discrimination.”

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