TV and radio appearances by Nation writers and editors, big Nation announcements.
According to The Nation's Christian Parenti, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's "culture" of bowing to industry demands prevents it from keeping plants truly safe. As President Obama once said, the NRC is a "captive" of the industry.
Joining MSNBC's Martin Bashir, Parenti explains that Japan's nuclear crisis should make us think about the dangers lurking in our own nuclear facilities. Decades-old nuclear power plants are currently being relicensed for years of further use, even as they fail to meet today's safety standards, Parenti explains. The plants are also obtaining permission to forgo routine maintenance. This leads to near-disasters such as the Ohio plant that just happened to discover a football-size hole in a containment vessel.
Japan's nuclear crisis has now reached a critical stage, as radiation from the melting cores of the Fukushima plant is hindering the containment efforts of workers and engineers. Could a disaster of the same magnitude occur in the US? According to The Nation’s Christian Parenti, the nuclear power plants here in America are poorly managed and regulated.
Joining The Ed Show on MSNBC, Parenti explained that there are currently 104 nuclear plants up for re-licensing in the US, most of which are around 40 years old. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not only looking to extend their use beyond their designed lifetimes, but many have been given “power upgrades,” allowing them to run at 120 percent of their designed and intended capacity. Particularly vulnerable to Japan-level crises are US plants built along the San Andreas and associated fault lines, which are still active. It's time all of them were taken out of commission.
Without strict building codes and widespread advance warning protocols, millions more could have perished in the earthquake and tsunami that together devastated wide swaths of Japan last week. How does the GOP respond to this tragedy? By defending their drastic cuts to vital emergency services provided by agencies such as the National Weather Service and US Geological Survey.
On The Ed Show last night, The Nation's Chris Hayes explained that even from "a sort of libertarian perspective," advanced warning systems are an indispensable "public good." So what are Republicans thinking? "One of the things we learned during Katrina is that it`s very easy to not pay attention to the aspects of the government that provide emergency services," Hayes says. If the GOP succeeds in cutting back funding for agencies that regulate building standards and facilitate emergency evacuation, how will the US fare in the next unanticipated disaster?
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's actions throughout the past three weeks have angered the state's citizens and motivated average people across the state to push for recalling many of Wisconsin's Republican representatives. That the Republicans forced their anti-worker bill through the legislature in a late-night session with little warning was highly irregular, and left many Wisconsinites wondering: is what Walker just did even legal?
The Nation’s John Nichols told MSNBC’s The Ed Show last night that Walker's attack on unions has mobilized the state's citizens, and their anger is spreading throughout the country. After Walker signed the bill to end collective bargaining for most public workers this morning, protesters took to the streets, and thousands more are expected to turn up tomorrow for rallies across the state.
The right has succeeded in throwing climate change science in doubt, placed major obstacles in the path of environmental legislation and continue to rake in their mercenary fees from energy and business lobbyists. All these signs of a broken system, The Nation’s Naomi Klein claims on Democracy Now! this morning, point to the fact that dealing with the crisis facing our planet will require nothing less than a complete restructuring of our economic system.
An actual remedy to the crisis would mean upending the whole free trade agenda and globalization, Klein says. We would have to localize our economies, pay the Global South for the damages our pollution has caused, regulate the greed of corporations, subsidize renewable energy and strengthen the United Nations.
The right choose to not believe in climate change "because it’s easier to deny the science than to say ‘OK, I accept that my whole worldview is about to fall apart,'” she says. “If we aren’t careful… then this crisis will be exploited to militarize our societies and to create fortress continents. We are really facing a choice.”
Klein also spoke on the show about anti-union bills as a frontal assault on democracy, and about environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, who was convicted last week of two felony charges for disrupting an auction of more than 100,000 acres of federal land for oil and gas drilling.
As despots and strongmen across the Middle East and North Africa struggle against their own citizens for control of their countries, should the US be doing more to help along this popular unrest? On Russia Today, The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel and NYU's Stephen Cohen say the US should allow the uprisings to take their own course if we really want to play a productive role in the future of the region. What the world is witnessing, vanden Heuvel and Cohen say, are not really democracy movements so much as they are the outpourings of nations fed up with living under dictatorships.
The repression of these strongmen was fueling terrorism, vanden Heuvel says, as dictators increasingly interacted with their citizens through their militaries or security forces. With newly-opened societies, economic and social development will be critical, and the US now has a chance to support "civic governance" in the region.
What we should not do, vanden Heuvel says, is intervene in Libya: "I wish the UN had more capacity to end violence and bloodshed in places like Libya," she says, but if the US attempts to get involved unilaterally in the country, it would dangerously destabilize the situation and might even get in the way of forces who, vanden Heuvel thinks, are very close to ousting Qadaffi.
Is unrest in the Middle East sending gas prices off the charts? Or could the oil panic have more to do with Wall Street speculators exploiting fear? On The Ed Show last night, The Nation's Chris Hayes says that the Obama Administration may be too "politically afraid" to confront the speculators on the escalating costs for fuel and food, but if they want to have any chance of curbing the volatile swings in price, they'll have to act quickly and aggressively.
"When gas prices hit four dollars, the country's politics go haywire," says Hayes. With so many of the government's gas cost "overseers" in the pocket of big Wall Street donors, and with Republicans blocking funding for the administrations key regulatory bodies, Hayes isn't expecting significant interventions from Obama any time soon.
For more on the gas price scare and what Obama can do about it, read Hayes's "Will Federal Regulators Crack Down on Oil Speculation?"
At a time when Citizen’s United has made it possible for corporations to dominate the political arena, unions serve as the last line of defense against the privatization of the public sector and as one of the few remaining voices for the working class. That's why the right is trying to take labor down. The Nation’s Naomi Klein joined MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show last night to talk about how the GOP has manipulated the current financial situation to push through unpopular policies that would have never gotten them elected.
Wisconsin isn't alone in their fight against the GOP's attempt to end collective bargaining for public workers: sixteen states currently face similar assaults. A particularly egregious bill that recently got an OK from Michigan’s House of Representatives would allow the governor to declare a state of emergency on any city, town or school district, in which the governor could then appoint an emergency power that could dismantle contracts and dismiss elected officials. The most frightening thing about this proposal: it could be used to put a corporation in charge of a whole city. According to Klein, conservatives are trying to consolidate power so that they can begin auctioning off public services, and in Michigan's case, entire municipalities.
“What this fight is really about is not unions vs. taxpayers, as we’ve been told. It’s a fight about who is going to pay for the crisis created by the wealthiest elite in this country,” Klein says. “Is it going to be regular working people? Or is it going to be the people who created this crisis? That’s the debate we need to have.”
Click here to read all of Klein's articles for The Nation.
Is Natalie Portman, a Harvard-educated career woman having a child with her fiance, a bad example for America's young women? Former Arkansas governor and possible 2012 presidential contender Mike Huckabee thinks so, and after Portman won Best Actress at the Academy Awards last week, he called in to a radio show to say just how unfortunate it is "that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children."
But on MSNBC's The Last Word Friday night, The Nation's Melissa Harris-Perry says Huckabee is way off the mark: single mothers, Harris-Perry says, do have "restrictions and difficulties" that we should all recognize, but "our children, our lives, are not the scourge." Harris-Perry emphasizes that "more and more women are choosing to opt out of marriage through divorce or by delaying marriage," and what really impacts young women are the structural opportunities too often denied to them, opportunities such as a decent education, access to family planning and counseling for jobs and college. Marriage as an institution might deserve closer scrutiny, Harris-Perry explains, but people simply making "different decisions" about their own lives deserve to be left alone.
Will the labor dispute between NFL players and owners lead to a lockout? The Nation’s Dave Zirin joined former Denver Broncos player Nate Jackson on MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show to examine the options. If the owners force a lockout, Zirin says, players would lose access to team medical facilities and team trainers, a disastrous proposition. One player’s pregnant wife recently induced labor to make sure their child’s birth would be covered under player health benefits.
The owners, Zirin says, would like an agreement that is “socialism for the rich” and “capitalism for the fans and players.“ NFL owners are some of “the wealthiest, most well-connected people on the planet,” while players come from “poor socioeconomic backgrounds,” typically play three and a half years and die twenty years before the average American male.
What’s more, “the fans pay for stadiums with tax dollars,” Zirin says, but they can’t even afford to buy tickets to the games. He says fans make the game go around and should have more voice in determining what happens.