Guest: Investigative journalist Helen Santoro; Also: Could OH block Biden from 2024 ballot?; Big media help Trump lie about his abortion position; Biden unveils new student loan debt relief for 30 million Americans...
By Brad Friedman on 4/8/2024, 6:19pm PT  

The warnings came from safety experts, insurance companies and environmentalists. Years ago. So, of course, they were all ignored by both the then Republican Governor and big business, including Big Oil, who all got their way over safety concerns and the public interest, as discussed on today's BradCast. [Audio link posted below this summary.]

But first up, some other news of note...

  • Ohio's Republican Secretary of State informed Democrats on Friday that they must change the date of their party's national convention this summer or Joe Biden will not qualify to be on the state's 2024 ballot under state law. Or, of course, the state's GOP legislature could simply change the law, as they did in 2020 when the Republican National Convention was scheduled too late for Donald Trump to qualify for that year's ballot. But the state legislature will have to do so by May 9. Mark your calendars.
  • On Monday in Wisconsin, President Biden unveiled yet another plan, this a very big one, to relieve hundreds of billions of dollars in student loan debt, this time for 30 million Americans after the corrupted U.S. Supreme Court, last year, blocked his original plan to do so for 40 million borrowers.
  • Also on Monday, Donald Trump released a rambling video on his social media cite purporting to be his new position on abortion rights. He takes credit for his SCOTUS majority overturning Roe v. Wade, but says nothing about whether he would sign a national abortion ban; have his FDA block the use of abortion medication; or allow his DoJ to block abortions entirely if he is re-elected this November. So, how did pretty much every single corporate mainstream media outlet headline the "news"? By falsely claiming that "Trump Says Abortion Law Should be Left to the States". But, of course, he didn't. And you wonder how it can be that so many Americans are so misinformed about the threat to the nation and world posed by Donald Trump? There's your answer.

Then, we're joined by investigative journalist HELEN SANTORO of The Lever, who has been digging deep into the Francis Scott Key Bridge disaster ever since its deadly collapse two weeks ago, after being struck by a massive, 980-foot mega-container-ship in the Port of Baltimore.

We discuss two of her recent articles on the tragedy today, both of which underscore how corporate greed and industry lobbyists have been allowed to run roughshod over common sense, public safety, and corporate responsibility.

The first story, filed shortly after the tragedy which killed six bridge workers and has shut down all traffic in or out of one of the East Coast's largest shipping ports ever since, focuses on Maryland's Republican former Governor --- now U.S. Senate Candidate --- Larry Hogan, who ignored multiple, repeated warnings, year after year, in his continuing efforts to bring ever larger vessels into the Port. In doing so, he discounted safety warnings from an insurance giant and an international transit group, while accepting millions in federal funding from the Trump Administration to expand the port and push for still-larger cargo ships. Environmental groups also sounded the alarm about Hogan's efforts, as did a top state engineer as long ago as 1980, when he warned that the Key Bridge could not withstand such a crash, even by smaller vessels, without falling down.

"It seems very clear that [Hogan] really prioritized private interests again and again, wanting Maryland to be this point of business," Santoro explains. "And, it seems like, with prioritizing these private interests, the safety of the bridge was clearly not considered."

The second of Santoro's investigative articles that we discuss today focuses on the 173-year old federal Limitation of Liability Act which caps the amount that shipping companies may be held liable for in such disasters. It earned the nickname "The Titanic Law" back in 1912, when White Star Line, the British-owner of the doomed ship, invoked the Act to pay no more than $430 for each of the more than 1,500 passengers who were lost in that fatal tragedy.

The Act has seen some small reforms over the years, but most attempts in recent years to finally modernize the 1851 law have been stymied by Congressional Republicans at the behest of lobbyists from Big Oil and other industries in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling that same year.

"It was pretty crazy going back and seeing that people have been complaining about this law since the Titanic crashed in 1912," Santoro tells me. "And yet the reforms have been, I would argue, pretty minimal, in terms of upping the amount that a company has to pay."

"Big Oil has really latched on to the Limitation of Liability Act to get themselves out of paying a lot of money for the Deepwater Horizon fiasco and other issues," she says. "There's a lot of industry funding and interest that is big on keeping damage control and the amount they're paying out for damages as low as possible."

Will Maryland's popular former Governor Hogan face accountability in his Senate race to fill the seat of retiring Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin this fall for dismissing years of warnings about the very tragedy that has now befallen his state (and the national economy along with it)? Will Congress finally update the antiquated Titanic Law when they return this week, so that major corporations --- which, unlike in the 1850s, are well insured to cover the costs of such disasters --- can be held to real account for the damage they cause in the name of greater and greater profit? Those are just some of the many questions we discuss with Santoro on today's program...


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