Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
America, Stop Trying to Make Nuclear Power Happen. It's Not Going to Happen.
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America, Stop Trying to Make Nuclear Power Happen. It's Not Going to Happen.

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Ralph is joined by Tim Judson from the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (N.I.R.S.) to discuss the growing support for nuclear power in Congress, and the persistent myths that fuel nuclear advocates' false hopes for a nuclear future. Then, Ralph pays tribute to Boeing whistleblower John Barnett, who died unexpectedly this week in the middle of giving his deposition for a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit against Boeing. Plus, Ralph answers some of your audience feedback from last week's interview with Barbara McQuade. 

Tim Judson is Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (N.I.R.S.). Mr. Judson leads N.I.R.S.’ work on nuclear reactor and climate change issues, and has written a series of reports on nuclear bailouts and sustainable energy. He is Chair of the Board of Citizens Awareness Network, one of the lead organizations in the successful campaign to close the Vermont Yankee reactor, and co-founder of Alliance for a Green Economy in New York.

Listeners should know that this very complex system called the nuclear fuel cycle—that starts with uranium mines out west piling up radioactive tailings, which have exposed people downwind to radioactive hazards…And then they have to enrich the uranium—and that is often done by burning coal, which pollutes the air and contributes to climate disruption. And then they have to fabricate the fuel rods and build the nuclear plants. And then they have to make sure that these nuclear plants are secure against sabotage. And then you have the problem of transporting—by trucks or rail—radioactive waste to some depositories that don't exist. And they have to go through towns, cities, and villages. And what is all this for? It's to boil water. 

Ralph Nader

In 2021 and 2022, when the big infrastructure bills— the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act—were being passed by Congress, the utility industry spent $192 million on federal lobbying in those two years. That's more than the oil industry spent in those two years on lobbying. These are the utility companies that are present in every community around the country. And their business is actually less in selling electricity and natural gas, and more in lobbying state and federal governments to get their rates approved…The utility industry (and the nuclear industry as a subset of that) have been lobbying Congress relentlessly for years to protect what they've got.

Tim Judson

Fusion is one of these technologies that's always been 30 years away. Whenever there's an announcement about an advancement in fusion research, it's still “going to be 30 years before we get a reactor going.” Now there's a lot more hype, and these tech investors are putting money into fusion with the promise that they're going to have a reactor online in a few years. But there's no track record to suggest that that's going to happen. It keeps the dream of nuclear alive— “We could have infinite amounts of clean energy for the future.” It sounds too good to be true. It's always proven to be too good to be true.

Tim Judson

One of the lines that they're using to promote theAtomic Energy Advancement Act and all of these investments in nuclear… is that we can't let Russia and China be the ones that are expanding nuclear energy worldwide. It's got to be the US that does it.

Tim Judson

In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

News 3/12/24

1. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, has released a report claiming that “employees released into Gaza from Israeli detention [were] pressured by Israeli authorities into falsely stating that the agency has Hamas links and that staff took part in the October 7 attacks,” per the Times of Israel. These supposed admissions of guilt led to the United States and many European countries cutting off or delaying aid to the agency. The unpublished report alleges that UNRWA staffers were “detained by the Israeli army, and…experienced…severe physical beatings, waterboarding, and threats of harm to family members.” The report goes on to say “In addition to the alleged abuse endured by UNRWA staff members, Palestinian detainees more broadly described allegations of abuse, including beatings, humiliation, threats, dog attacks, sexual violence, and deaths of detainees denied medical treatment.”

2. Continuing the genocidal assault on Gaza, Israel has been bombing the densely populated city of Rafah in the South. Domestically, this seems to be too far for even Biden’s closest allies, with the AP reporting just before the assault that “[Senator Chris] Coons…of Delaware, called for the U.S. to cut military aid to Israel if Netanyahu goes ahead with a threatened offensive on the southern city of Rafah without significant provisions to protect the more than 1 million civilians sheltering there. [And Senator] Jack Reed, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, appealed to Biden to deploy the U.S. Navy to get humanitarian aid to Gaza. Biden ally Sen. Tim Kaine challenged the U.S. strikes on the Houthis as unlikely to stop the Red Sea attacks. And the most senior Democrat in the Senate [Patty Murray of Washington] called for Israel to ‘change course.’” Hewing to these voices within his party, President Biden declared that an invasion of Rafah would be a “red line.” Yet POLTICO reports that Israeli PM Netanyahu “says he intends to press ahead with an invasion.” POLTICO now reports that Biden is threatening to condition military aid to Israel in response to Netanyahu’s defiance, but it remains to be seen whether the president will follow through on this threat.

3. POLITICO also reports that CIA Director Bill Burns is calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying “The reality is that there are children who are starving…They’re malnourished as a result of the fact that humanitarian assistance can’t get to them. It’s very difficult to distribute humanitarian assistance effectively unless you have a ceasefire.” This is obviously correct, and illustrates how out of touch the Democratic Party is that they are getting outflanked on peace issues by the literal director of the CIA.

4. Whether unwilling – or unable – to change course on Gaza, President Biden is paying the electoral price. In last week’s Super Tuesday primaries, the Nation reports “Uncommitted” won 19 percent of the vote and 11 delegates in Minnesota, 29 percent and seven delegates in Hawaii, and 12.7 percent in North Carolina. This week, the New York Times reports Uncommitted took 7.5% – nearly 50,000 votes – in Washington State. Biden also lost the caucus in American Samoa, making him the first incumbent president since Carter to lose a nominating contest, per Newsweek.

5. In yet another manifestation of opposition to the genocide in Gaza, Jewish director Jonathan Glazer used his Oscar acceptance speech to “[denounce] the bloodshed in the Middle East and [ask] the audience to consider how it could ‘resist…dehumanization,’” per NBC. Glazer’s award winning film “The Zone of Interest” examines how “[a] Nazi commandant…and his family…attempt to build an idyllic life right outside the walls of the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland during the Holocaust.” Glazer said “All our choices were made to reflect and confront us in the present — not to say, 'Look what we did then,' rather, 'Look what we do now.' Our film shows where dehumanization leads at its worst…Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation, which has led to conflict for so many people." Glazer was the most forthright in his criticism of the Israeli campaign, but NBC notes “Billie Eilish, Mark Ruffalo and Ramy Youssef wore red pins on the Oscars red carpet symbolizing calls for a cease-fire.”

6. Aware that they are losing the public relations battle, pro-Israel lobbying groups like the UJA-Federation and the Jewish Community Relations Council have enlisted Right-wing messaging guru Frank Luntz to help with their Hasbara PR, the Grayzone reports. Leaked talking points from his presentation run the gamut from playing up unsubstantiated claims of systematic sexual violence committed by Hamas to acknowledging that “’The most potent’ tactic in mobilizing opposition to Israel’s assault…‘is the visual destruction of Gaza and the human toll’… [because] ‘It ‘looks like a genocide’.”

7. Turning from Palestine to East Palestine, Ohio Cleveland.com reports that during a recent Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, National Transportation Safety Board  Chair Jennifer L. Homendy told Ohio’s junior Senator JD Vance that “The deliberate burn of rail cars carrying hazardous chemicals after last year’s crash…wasn’t needed to avoid an explosion because the rail cars were cooling off before they were set on fire.” In a statement, Ohio’s senior Senator, progressive Democrat Sherrod Brown, called the testimony “outrageous,” and said “This explosion – which devastated so many – was unnecessary…The people of East Palestine are still living with the consequences of this toxic burn. This is more proof that Norfolk Southern put profits over safety & cannot be trusted.”

8. In positive labor news, Bloomberg reports that “About 600 video game testers at Microsoft…’s Activision Blizzard studios have unionized, more than doubling the size of labor’s foothold at the software giant, according to the Communications Workers of America.” This brings the unionized workforce at Microsoft to approximately 1,000. To the company’s credit, Microsoft has been friendly towards unionization, a marked difference from other technology companies – namely Amazon and Tesla – which have gone to extreme lengths to prevent worker organizing.

9. In not so positive labor news, Matt Bruenig’s NLRB Edge reports “The ACLU Is Trying to Destroy the Biden NLRB.” In a narrow sense, this story is about the ACLU fighting its workers to preserve its internal mandatory arbitration process. More broadly however, Bruenig illustrates how the ACLU is seeking to oust Biden’s NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo – arguing her appointment was unconstitutional – which “could potentially invalidate everything the Biden Board has done.” This is yet another example of the non-profit industrial complex run amok, doing damage to progressive values and opting to possibly inflict economic harm on workers nationwide rather than treat their own workers fairly.

10. Finally, according to the Corporate Crime Reporter, “Boeing whistleblower John Barnett was found dead in his truck at a hotel in Charleston, South Carolina after a break in depositions in a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit.” Barnett’s lawyer Brian Knowles told the paper “They found him in his truck dead from an ‘alleged’ self-inflicted gunshot.” Barnett had gone on record saying “[Boeing] started pressuring us to not document defects, to work outside the procedures, to allow defective material to be installed without being corrected. They started bypassing procedures and not maintaining configurement control of airplanes, not maintaining control of non conforming parts –  they just wanted to get the planes pushed out the door and make the cash register ring.” The timing and circumstances of Barnett’s death raise disturbing questions; we hope an exhaustive investigation turns up some answers.

This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Episode 523 Transcript
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Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader Radio Hour
Ralph Nader talks about what’s happening in America, what’s happening around the world, and most importantly what’s happening underneath it all.
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