On today's BradCast, we cover a number of disturbing new stories highlighting how Donald Trump's Administration --- while everyone is distracted by his is obnoxious, racist tweets and occasionally by his felonious criminal behavior --- is absolutely hollowing out the U.S. Government to the detriment of public safety and the cheers of industry special interests. Oh, and we cover some of his criminal behavior as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]
Among the stories covered on today's show...
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now cutting back on safety inspections for the nation's 90-plus nuclear reactors, along with legal notices that previously had to be given to the public regarding plant safety issues. The nuclear industry, facing stiff competition from cleaner, cheaper, safer renewable energy, is applauding the "cost cutting" (some would say safety cutting) measures. Public interest groups are very concerned;
Out in California, where, last October, Donald Trump issued an executive order to force more water to be released from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California down to farmers in the state's agriculturally rich Central Valley after years of demands by the powerful agricultural industry, the administration has paused the process just days before what was to have been a legally mandated scientific analysis of potential harm to endangered species such as salmon and delta smelt. An investigative report from Northern California's KQED finds the administration is replacing biologists from two federal agencies, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had spent months preparing a "biological opinion", as required by law, with a team of attorneys and so-called experts in policy and regulations from outside the state. Apparently, the Administration didn't like the findings by the actual government biologists, so have paused the process for two months to allow an entirely new analysis Bureau of Reclamation's water plan by hand-picked ringers;
At the same time that the Interior Department is undermining their own scientists on the California project, the Department's Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from D.C. to Grand Junction, CO, along with hundreds of federal employees, including many senior managers, who will either be forced to move or retire. The planned hollowing out of the BLM comes with little public notice or explanation, and echoes a similar recent move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is forcing hundreds of the agency's top scientists to either pick up and move to a new headquarters in Kansas City, or be let go. Most of those USDA scientists are reportedly unwilling to uproot their lives and families to make the move. Similar processes, according to Washington Post, are said to have resulted in thousands of civil service jobs being cut at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development to name a few, as the Trump Administration continues to gut the U.S. Government (well, all but the Defense Department, where they have added jobs) at the expense of public safety and to the benefit of industrial profit motives;
Then, we move to some of those Trump crimes mentioned earlier. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered the release today of previously redacted files regarding Trump's illegal hush-money payoffs to two women with whom he is said to have had affairs before his election as President. The judge's order comes after federal prosecutors indicated they had suddenly ended investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump himself regarding the payoff scheme in the campaign finance felony conspiracy for which Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is now serving time in federal prison. Both Cohen and federal prosecutors, when Cohen pleaded guilty, had said the conspiracy was "directed" by Trump himself. The newly unredacted documents underscore Trump's involvement in the conspiracy both before and after his election, as well as those of others in his campaign, such as longtime Trump aid and then Communications Director Hope Hicks. Setting aside the entirely of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller --- and the 10 or so instances of unlawful obstruction of justice detailed in his report --- this hush-money matter alone is more than enough to merit impeachment and removal from office (not to mention federal prosecution). At least it would be for any other President --- or if there were real leadership among Democrats in Congress;
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as much of the country will be sweltering for days under the latest, dangerous, climate change-fueled heatwave, and with more on the Trump Administration's latest plans to hollow out protections against pollution and the ability for local authorities to have a say in the matter. You didn't need all of that forest land near you to be saved from clear cutting by the logging industry anyway, right?...
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Then I was joined by Sacramento, CA Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to discuss the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by the GOP-hired firmed Momentum Political Services, as we detailed late last week. Lavine tells me that she's confident that in her nine years as Registrar, there has been no in-person impersonation at the polling place, despite the continuing pattern of GOP voter registration fraud in the state and the Republican push to disenfranchise (largely Democratic) voters by claiming, disingenuously, that polling place Photo ID restrictions have anything to do with "voter fraud".
We then enjoyed a quick visit with the lovely Desi Doyen from the Green News Report, fresh off her guest-hosting gig this afternoon on The Young Turks (I'll try to post that video soon!)
Finally, since it's called The BradCast, I was joined by Brad Jacobson to discuss his terrifying new report at Alternet on the "ticking time-bomb" that is the precarious Spent Fuel Pool --- now fully exposed, 100 feet off the ground in a listing building --- at Fukushima Daiichi's reactor #4. His report should scare the hell out of you. It certainly does me. And the scariest part: It's being covered by virtually nobody in the mainstream corporate media. I guess that's what The BradCast is for.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Santorum down the rabbit hole; New nukes for the US; Clean energy breakthroughs: seaweed ethanol, highest efficiency solar panels ever, plastic-eating fungus; PLUS: 'Betty Crocker Solar Power Cake Powder' ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Interior Dept drilling reg enforcement is ‘erratic’, ‘inadequate’; Green economy lost fewer jobs in Great Recession; Big Oil: record profits by pumping less gas; Sea to submerge Louisiana by 2100: study; Frustrated fracking co. begins eminent domain proceedings against homeowners; 9/11 experiment shows whales affected by human noise; Wind energy does not contribute to global warming ... PLUS: Good news: Himalayas and nearby peaks have lost no ice in past 10 years: study ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Arsenic and other tasty toxins contaminate groundwater near coal plants; Use less gas, pay more!; Bizarre meltdown at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; BP gets a license to drill --- again --- in the Gulf of Mexico; Solar surges in 2011; PLUS: "Human oil spill" outside House Speaker John Boehner's office ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What the Frack?: Add Quakes to Natural Gas Rush; Wisconsin Mine Plan Prompts Backlash; Exxon Mobil predicts surge in hybrid vehicles; Putting US Farmland on a Fertilizer Diet; Killing of Wolves From Air Draws Fire ... PLUS: Facebook Unfriends Coal, Partners with Greenpeace for Clean Energy Future ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama calls again for eliminating billions in oil subsidies; Coal mine owner Massey Energy kept two sets of books; U.S. Interstate Highway system proves federal infrastructure good for business; PLUS: Jellyfish attack a nuclear power plant --- no, really --- natural disasters and the Achilles heel of the U.S. nuclear industry ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 2010: Second warmest year on record; How rising temperatures change weather; CA delays nation's 1st cap-and-trade emissions auctions; AAAS decries intimidation, threats aimed at climate scientists; Undercover video links major retailers to barbaric handling of pigs; How the meat industry turned abuse into a business model; Dick Cheney's Big Fracking Mess; Google's plan for cleantech world dominance; More radioactive water leaks from Fukushima; "Our economic system must adapt to climate change"; A clean, green economy will arrive 'like a grenade in a glasshouse; How to make solar panels with paint; Environmentalists Speak Out Against Excessive Cheese Logging; Did ExxonMobil break its promise to stop funding climate deniers?; CA to delay its greenhouse gas emissions trading system; Sierra Club Can't Join U.S. Lawsuit Seeking BP Spill Damages ... PLUS: Republican governors AWOL during state emergencies to attend secret Billionaire Koch Brothers event ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Big Oil's big subsidies survive the Senate; Federal investigators find "deviant practices" by Massey Energy; Faulty equipment at Japanese nuke plant also installed at US nuke plants; PLUS: It's the End of the World as we know it! So drive safely! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NOAA scientists see 'unprecedented' ocean changes; US weather disasters are the 'new normal'; Are environmental regulations really 'job killers'?; 100% solar plane makes another successful flight; Hauling icebergs to deserts; CA hybrid owners to lose carpool lane privileges; Exposing babies to carcinogenic flame-retardants; Big fines for PA 'fracking' violations; Deforestation in Brazil escalates; Where has MT's water gone?; TX drinking water shows radioactive contamination; MS River flood making Gulf Dead Zone much worse; Bringing solar to the masses at Lowe's; Climate denier's retracted report exposes workings of the Denial Industry; Climate change deniers now like birthers ... PLUS: Is climate sanity the kiss of death for Republican presidential candidates? ...
Despite repeated assurances that American nuclear plants are better equipped to deal with natural disasters than their counterparts in Japan, regulators said Thursday that recent inspections had found serious problems with some emergency equipment that would have made it unusable in an accident.
The briefing was part of a review requested by the commissioners to evaluate the vulnerability of American reactors to severe natural disasters like the ones that hit the Japanese plant in March.
Marty Virgilio, the deputy executive director of the agency, told the five commissioners that inspectors checked a sample of equipment at all 104 reactors and found problems at less than a third of them. The problems included pumps that would not start or, if they did, did not put out the required amount of water; equipment that was supposed to be set aside for emergencies but was being used in other parts of the plants; emergency equipment that would be needed in case of flood stored in places that could be flooded; and insufficient diesel on hand to run backup systems.
The two-hour briefing given to the five-member commission was an early assessment, 30 days into a 90-day review being conducted by an N.R.C. task force.
[Massachusetts' Democratic Congressman Ed] Markey pointed out that in the last eight years, the commission had received 69 reports of inoperable diesel generators at 33 plants, with six of those generators out for more than a month. The diesels provide power for water pumps that allow removal of “decay heat,” the heat that fuel generates even after a reactor shuts down. The Fukushima plants shut down successfully but decay heat wrecked their cores.