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.
Roughly 14 years have passed since the signing of the Good Friday peace accord, which ended decades of bloody conflict in Northern Ireland. But that doesn’t mean the area is free of conflict, tensions and even violence. Jamie Smyth of the Financial Times talks about the situation. His recent article is called "A Peace to Protect."
As violence escalates in Syria, thousands of refugees are pouring across the border into neighboring countries. International Rescue Committee’s Melanie Megevand and Sanjayan Srikanthan talk about what’s happening on the ground there.
Donatella Rovera, senior adviser on crisis response for Amnesty International, spent several weeks this spring in 23 of Syria’s towns and villages. On this week’s Underreported, she describes the damage she saw as traveled around the country and the stories she heard from Syrians about the tactics of the national army as fighting continues there, 16 months after the protests first began.
Scientists recently made an unlikely discovery under thinning arctic ice: a massive algae bloom. Kevin Arrigo, a biological oceanographer at Stanford University who led the NASA-sponsored mission that discovered the algae, explains how it changes our thinking about arctic ecosystems and how they’re responding to climate change.
A report from the New America Foundation has found that the Obama Administration has dramatically escalated its drone war in Yemen. Peter Bergen talks about the report’s findings and their regional implications.
Thailand is one of the largest exporters of seafood to the United States. On today’s Underreported segment, Global Post’s senior southeast Asian correspondent Patrick Winn investigates claims that forced labor is used on Thai fishing boats.
University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel explains the recent judicial expansion of the Martin Act of 1921, which now makes it easier for private investors to file lawsuits against investment firms.
On today’s Underreported, directors Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher talk about the people who serve as human test subjects for medications being developed by pharmaceutical companies. They look at how those medications are being marketed, sold, and used throughout the United States after they’ve been approved. It’s the subject of their documentary, “Off Label,” which is being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival.
In China, Asiatic black bears are kept in cages for their bile, which is valued in Asian medicine. Jill Robinson, the founder and CEO of Animals Asia, who appears in the documentary "Cages of Shame," talks about bear bile farming and bear rescue efforts.
"Cages of Shame" premiers at the Rubin Museum of Art April 14.
Quinoa has become an incredibly popular food in recent years, with prices for the whole grain tripling in the last five years. On today’s Underreported, Time writer Jean Friedman-Rudovksy talks about how the exploding market for quinoa has also created problems, including land disputes in Bolivia and environmental issues.
Wired correspondent James Bamford describes the $2 billion Utah Data Center that is being constructed for the National Security Agency. It’s expected to be up and running in 2013 and will house their database for all forms of communication—emails, cell phone calls, Internet searches, and even bookstore purchases.
In November, the Democratic Republic of Congo held presidential elections, even as the security situation there deteriorated. On today’s Underreported Update, Father Ferdinand Muhigirwa, the director of CEPAS (Centre d’Etudes pour l’Action Sociale), the oldest think tank in Congo, describes what’s happened since the contested election. He also looks at suppression of protests in Kinshasa and escalation of violence in the eastern part of the country. We’ll also be joined by Akwe Amosu, the director of Africa advocacy at the Open Society Foundations.
Helena Bottemiller, a reporter for The Food & Environment Reporting Network, looks at the controversial animal feed additive, ractopamine hydrochloride, which is widely used in the united states but the EU and China have banned it’s use, citing health concerns.
On this week’s Underreported, Human Rights Watch researcher Nisha Varia describes abuses of migrant domestic workers in Asia and the Middle East, and why Cambodian women are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment in Malaysia. Plus, a look at efforts to implement international labor standards for domestic workers.
The crisis at the Fukushima reactor in Japan has been out of the headlines, but that doesn’t mean the crisis has been solved. We’ll speak with Dr. Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist in the Global Security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists
Full body X-ray scanners are now commonplace in airports across America. ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell tells us about a new report that has found that the U.S. government glossed over a number of safety concerns about the the devices—even ignoring concerns about a potential increased risk of cancer.
Recently Kenyan forces invaded Somalia in a bid to fight the militant group Al-Shaabab. The United States has also been heavily involved in the country in recent years— allegedly establishing CIA bases, carrying out drone strikes, and providing funding for militants. The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill looks at the political situation in Somalia and the history of recent interventions in the war-torn and famine wracked country.
Earlier this month President Obama deployed 100 U.S. troops to Uganda in an advisory role to aid the fight against the Lords Resistance Army. Nate Haken, who works on conflict assessment issues in Uganda, and Patricia Taft, who served an adviser to the government of Uganda on war crimes prosecution and its case against the LRA, look at why this action was taken and the controversy surrounding it. Haken and Taft both work for The Fund for Peace.
In the current economic downturn, governments around the world are looking to crack down on tax loopholes—corporations have been able to take advantage of tax breaks and loopholes that add up to billions of dollars in lost tax revenue. On today’s Underreported, ProPublica senior reporter Jeff Gerth and Megan Murphy, Investment Banking Correspondent for the Financial Times, describe how corporations are saving billions and how governments are now trying to close some of these loopholes.
When we’re in the supermarket, trying to figure out what to cook for dinner, the issues of immigration and migrant laborers usually aren’t on our minds. Yet migrant workers pick much of the produce that ends up on our tables. On today’s Underreported segment, GQ correspondent Jeanne Marie Laskas describes the season she spent with the migrant workers who pick the fruits and vegetables we find in our supermarkets, and why our food system depends on them. Her article "Hecho en América" appears in the October issue of GQ.
This week major clashes erupted in South Africa over the future of the African National Congress, the country’s ruling party since the end of apartheid. New York Times reporter Alan Cowell and Franz Krüger, Director of the Wits Radio Academy in Johannesburg, join us to explain South Africa's political scene.
Journalist Michela Wrong looks at Eritrea and its president Isaias Afewerki. She has spent 13 years reporting in Africa and is the author of In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, about the Congolese dictator Mobutu, and I Didn't Do It for You, about Eritrea.
More than 50 years have passed since the United States sponsored a covert invasion of Cuba that came to be known as the Bay of Pigs. Now, one of the most coveted documents surrounding the disaster been released to the public: the top secret multi-volume CIA history of the operation. Peter Kornbluh of George Washington University’s National Security Archive led the effort to obtain the documents.
The Horn of Africa is facing its worst drought in 60 years. Already, 10 million people are in urgent need of food in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya and yesterday the United Nations declared its first famine in 27 years for parts of Somalia. On today’s first Underreported, Nora Love, the International Rescue Committee’s deputy director of programs, discusses the situation across the region.
More than 2.5 million Somalis are now in desperate need of food, but it wasn’t until late Wednesday that the State Department announced that it would send food aid to the country. The reason? Concerns that sending food aid would be aiding al-Shabab, which controls parts of southern Somalia and which the United States views as a terrorist organization. On today’s Underreported, Eliza Griswold, Senior Fellow at the New America Foundation and author of The Tenth Parallel, describes why the State Department was concerned that al-Shabab would use the food as a weapon and the challenges of providing food aid to areas where aid workers were banned until quite recently.
This week, a team of Japanese scientists announced that vast deposits of rare earth minerals—considered essential for the production of certain electronics—have been found under the Pacific Ocean. Cindy Lee Van Dover, Director of Duke University Marine Laboratory and Peter B. Kelemen, an Earth & Environmental Studies Professor at Columbia University, tell us about the deposits and how deep sea mining works.
A number of scientists believe that the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima reactors in Japan is much worse than what governments are revealing. Al Jazeera reporter Dahr Jamail discusses what some in the scientific community are saying about the effects of the meltdown.
On this week’s Underreported, Dan Coughlin, reporter for The Nation magazine, Kim Ives, editor for Haiti Liberté, discuss what the WikiLeaks cables reveal about American diplomatic attitudes toward Haiti – both before and after the devasting earthquake there in 2010. A new series of reports about the 1,918 cables that relate to Haiti is being published in a partnership between The Nation and the Haiti Liberté newspaper.
In late March and early April, a boat filled with dozens of African migrants drifted in the Mediterranean for 16 days with almost no food, fuel or water. Although the boat made contact with various European authorities, no rescue was attempted and 61 people died. On this week’s Underreported, Fred Abrahams, Special Advisor at Human Rights Watch, describes what happened aboard the ship and why an investigation has been launched into how NATO and its member states responded to the ship’s distress calls.
Charlie Ornstein and Tracy Weber, ProPublica senior reporters, discuss medical societies and their financial ties to drug and medical device makers. Ornstein and Weber are the authors of the article "Financial Ties Bind Medical Societies to Drug and Device Makers," part of ProPublica's series Dollars for Doctors.
Since last summer, there has been a sometimes violent standoff between students at the University of Puerto Rico and the government over an announced budget cut and an increase in tuition fees, but that may just be part of a wider pattern of First Amendment violations. Jennifer Turner, a Human Rights Researcher at the ACLU and Rosie Perez, who just returned from a fact-finding mission in Puerto Rico, describe how authorities have dealt with students, striking workers, journalists, and civilians in recent months.
Climate change is having dramatic effects on the world’s oceans as ice sheets collapse and the sea becomes more acidic. Warmer temperatures allow some deep sea predators, like King Crab, to expand their range into new areas—to the detriment of many other sea creatures. According to James McClintock, a Professor of Physiology & Ecology of Aquatic & Marine Invertebrates at the University of Alabama, an army of deep sea King Crabs are slowly working their way up the Antarctic slope, a habitat they have never been found in before, and are potentially decimating the extremely delicate marine ecosystem.
It has long been known that Chiquita Brands International made controversial payments to violent guerilla and paramilitary groups in Columbia in the 1990s and 2000s. The company was fined $25 million dollars in a 2007 plea-agreement for making payments to AUC, which was designated as a terrorist group by the US State Department in 2001. Michael Evans, chief researcher on Colombia at the National Security Archive, explains that a newly released trove of internal Chiquita memos obtained by the National Security Archive suggest that, contrary to company claims that the money was extorted, the payments often resulted in direct benefits for the banana giant.
Eighty-three-year-old Luis Posada Carriles is a former CIA operative. He has been connected to the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the funneling of U.S. money to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s, a series of attacks on Havana hotels in 1997, and the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Posada was acquitted this month of charges that he lied to U.S. immigration officials when he entered the country in 2005. Jefferson Morley, a former editor at The Washington Post and the author of Our Man in Mexico: Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA, looks at Posada's background and his recent acquittal.
Concerns about seismic activity at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant are grabbing the headlines this week, but other issues have been raised in the debate over whether the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should renew the plant's license. WNYC’s Bob Hennelly looks at environmental concerns about 90-100 degree waste water coming out of the plant into the Hudson River.
Côte d'Ivoire has been rocked by a political and humanitarian crisis following the disputed presidential election in November. Adam Nossiter, New York Times West Africa Bureau Chief, and Renzo Fricke, an Emergency Coordinator for Doctors Without Borders, talk about the turmoil there.
The Stuxnet virus made headlines when it damaged computers at Iran’s nuclear program. On this week’s Underreported segment, Vanity Fair writer Michael Joseph Gross looks at who could have built Stuxnet and why Israel may not have been behind the computer worm as many initially assumed. Plus, we’ll look at what Stuxnet means for the future of cyber warfare.
Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute and author of World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse, describes what’s driving the rise in food prices around the world – from the changing environment to population growth. Plus, find out how commodities prices are connected to the rising dissatisfaction in many developing countries.
In 1970, there were nearly 650,000 dairy farms in the United States. Today, there are only 54,000 farms—many of them run by large operators who dominate the industry. As milk prices have fallen—fetching half as much in 2009 per gallon as they did in 2008—small dairy farmers have taken a huge hit. Barry Estabrook explains the crisis facing small dairy farmers in the United States and efforts to pass a price-fixing agreement in Congress. Barry Estabrook’s article, "A Tale of Two Dairies," appears in Gastronomica.
Detainees held by the United States government at the Guantanamo Bay prison have been administered very high doses of the drug Mefloquine, according to a new report from Seton Hall Law School. While the drug is a powerful anti-malarial, it also has a number of adverse side effects, which include hallucinations, paranoia and depression. On today’s Underreported segment Mark Denbeaux, one of the reports authors and director of the Seton Hall Law Center for Policy & Research, discusses why administration of the drug to detainees (at five times the regular dosage) is controversial.
In 1972, Congress launched the nation’s most ambitious experiment in universal health care: virtually anyone diagnosed with kidney failure, regardless of age or income, was granted comprehensive coverage under Medicare for dialysis. Almost 40 years later, the costs of dialysis are the highest in the Western world--$77,000 per patient--as is the mortality rate. ProPublica's Robin Fields joins us to discuss her two-year investigation into the treatment options that dialysis patients face.
Dr. Ron O'Dor, Senior Scientist, Census of Marine Life, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, tells us about the first Census of Marine Life—a 10-year exploration carried out by scientists from 80 nations. It reveals what, where, and how much lives and hides in the world’s oceans. He’ll explain how the census was carried out and what it shows about life under water.
The use of forensic DNA databanks by law enforcement has exploded since the mid 1990s. We’ll examine the implications widespread stockpiling of genetic information has for criminal investigations and civil liberties. We’ll speak with Tufts University professor Sheldon Krimsky and former ACLU science advisor Tania Simoncelli, co-authors of the book Genetic Justice: DNA Data Banks, Criminal Investigations, and Civil Liberties.
Global talks on climate change have been underway in Cancun, Mexico for days now. New York Times columnist Andy Revkin tells the latest on what’s happening and why expectations have been so low this year.
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Mira Kamdar, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and associate fellow at the Asia Society, examines why U.S. agribusinesses are extremely interested in India, especially when it comes to the development of new GMO crops.
President Obama travels to India this weekend, and while his trip may come at time of heightened tensions between in the region, but India and Pakistan have been feuding for decades. Ending that conflict has become a centerpiece of the President’s foreign policy. On today’s second Underreported segment Mira Kamdar, senior fellow at the World Policy Institute and an associate fellow at the Asia Society looks at prospects for a comprehensive (and elusive) peace deal between India and Pakistan, and what it could mean for U.S. interests in the region, including in Afghanistan.
Hossam Bahgat, founder and director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, discusses his work to protect civil and religious rights in Egypt, and the threat of violence and discrimination aimed at the country’s religious minorities. And, with Egypt’s parliamentary elections less than a month away, he describes the government’s crackdowns leading up to the vote. He received the Human Rights Watch’s Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism earlier this week.