Major news events throughout the world continue to be largely ignored until they reach tragic proportions. Underreported, a weekly feature on The Leonard Lopate Show, tackles these issues and gives an in-depth look into stories that are often relegated to the back pages.
Hurricane Katrina fundamentally changed the landscape of New Orleans and radically altered the way the federal government responds to natural disasters. It also changed the way scientists study hurricanes—what factors they consider and where research funds are directed. Atmospheric scientists James Kossin of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Judith Curry of the Georgia Institute of Technology, explain and look ahead to how we're preparing for Hurricane Earl.
Orbital debris is quickly becoming a serious problem for satellites and manned spacecraft. Collisions and other incidents have increased the amount of potentially harmful space junk floating around in low earth orbit by a third in the past year-and-a-half alone. Mark Matney, of NASA’s Orbital Debris Program Office, and Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute, tell us about the problem and what (if anything) can be done about it.
On today's second Underreported segment, Kara Lavender Law and Giora Proskurowski, both oceanographers at the Sea Education Association (SEA), discusses the North Atlantic garbage patch, where plastic bags and bottles form a floating, swirling mass in the ocean. They’ll talk about the 22 years of research on the garbage patch, and new research that shows it hasn’t been growing.
Journalist Paula Park discusses the proliferation of counterfeit drugs around the world, and how these fake medications have led to the development of drug-resistant strains of malaria. We’ll find out who’s making and distributing these counterfeit drugs, and more about the efforts being made in Cambodia and other countries to close down illegal outlets. Her article “Lethal Counterfeits” appeared in World Policy Journal’s summer issue.
Rachel Ehrenfeld, writer and director of the American Center for Democracy, discusses the "libel tourism" bill passed last week by the U.S. Senate designed to shield U.S. journalists and writers from libel suits by repressive governments or wealthy business tycoons in foreign jurisdictions. Ms. Ehrenfield, the author of Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed and How to Stop It, talks about being sued for libel in England. Unlike the United States, the law is skewed in favor of the plaintiff in England, even though neither she, nor the wealthy Saudi businessman who sued her, were residents of the UK.
Eight years ago, in the wake of the collapse of Enron, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, intended to expand protections for corporate whistleblowers. But the Agency charged with carrying out the law—the United States department of Labor—has dismissed 98 percent of claims seeking whistleblower protection status. We’ll talk with Michael Hudson, a staff writer with the Center for Public Integrity.
Turkey’s Kurdish region in the country’s southeast has exploded into violence once again. We’ll get the latest from Aliza Marcus, author of the book Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence.
According to a new report from Human Rights Watch, migrant tobacco workers in Kazakhstan have been exploited and even trapped on farms that supply Philip Morris’s Kazakhstan operation, and children as young as 10 were working on the farms. Rachel Denber, head of the European Division of Human Rights Watch, explains what conditions on these farms are like and the steps that Philip Morris has agreed to take to protect these workers.
In 2005, a blast at a British Petroleum refinery in Texas City, Texas, killed 15 people. On today’s Underreported, reporter Ryan Knutson describes the safety violations that led up to the blast, how the oil company responded to the disaster, and the parallels with the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April.
Despite its long list of troubles, including federal investigations and indictments, the company formerly known as Blackwater has been awarded millions of dollars in contracts by the Obama Administration. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army, explains why.
The emerging field of environmental forensics may be the best way to determine the impact that the oil spill will have on the gulf coast. Merv Fingas, former Chief of the Emergencies Science Division of Environment Canada, is a leader in the field and will explain what chemical fingerprinting is and how it can help us understand what will happen in the Gulf.
The attention being paid the Deepwater Horizon oil spill has many residents of Nigeria, Egypt, and Chile scratching their heads. Devastating oil spills in these countries in the past decades have gone relatively unnoticed by the mainstream press. Both Dr. Erich Gundlach, director of E-Tech International, an oil spill clean-up firm, and Richard Steiner, professor of marine conservation at the University of Alaska, have first-hand experience working with oil spills around the world. They'll discuss some of the largest oil spills that have gone unnoticed and what was done to clean them up.
Chemical dispersants are already being used to cleanup the Gulf of Mexico, but what about oil-eating bacteria?
Last week, the Jamaican government declared a state of emergency after fighting broke out in the streets of the capital city of Kingston.
In his film Crude: The Real Price of Oil, documentarian Joe Berlinger chronicled the story behind a law suit filed by thousands of indigenous Ecuadorians against Chevron for oil pollution in the Amazon river. Earlier this month, a New York judge ordered him to turn over hundreds of hours of outtake footage from the film to Chevron.