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PODCAST REVIEW: Today, Explained by VOX

The Today, Explained podcast, hosted by Sean Rameswaram, looks at Biden’s latest 13 actions starting with ObamaCare.

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President Joe Biden has issued 25 executive orders his first 12 days in office outpacing the total number that Trump and Obama did in the same period. Biden’s early executive actions cover immigration, racial justice, transgender rights, coronavirus, climate change, and health.

The Today, Explained podcast, hosted by Sean Rameswaram, looks at Biden’s latest 13 actions starting with ObamaCare. The podcast features Vox reporters Dylan Scott, Lili Pike, Emily Stewart, Li Zhou, Katelyn Burns, Anna North, and German Lopez.

13 Executive Actions…

ObamaCare:

“So, this week, President Biden signed an executive order that is meant to shore up the Affordable Care Act, which had come under attack during the Trump administration,” said Dylan Scott. “That executive order does two important things. One is it creates a special enrollment period on HealthCare.Gov, which is the federal health insurance marketplace that most of the country uses, that will last from February 15th to May 15th.”

A Travel Ban

“People coming from the United Kingdom, from Ireland, from Brazil and from South Africa, if you have been in one of those countries within the last 14 days before you’re trying to enter the United States, you’re not allowed to come anymore,” said Scott. “The reason for this is some of these new coronavirus variants that we have started to see pop up, one of them emerged in the United Kingdom, one of them has come out of South Africa and they’ve started to be detected elsewhere across the world, including in the United States. 

The Climate

“One of the key actions here is that he is pausing all new leases for oil and gas drilling on federal lands,” said Lili Pike. “Another key initiative here is that he intends to conserve 30 percent of land by 2030. That is up from just 12 percent today. Another key theme of this executive order is how he will use climate policy to address injustice.

Scientific Strategy

“Biden is basically sending the message that science will once again be central to the government’s decision making,” said Pike. “You can see this as a direct rebuttal to the Trump era. Trump often attacked the use of science in decision making. I think one example of this is that Trump’s EPA limited the use of scientific studies in decision making.”

The Small Council

“Biden reestablishes PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Trump set up PCAST, but it took him three years to do so,” said Pike. “So, in this order, Biden dismantles Trump’s PCAST and sets up his own group of advisors on science and technology.”

Federal Workers

“Biden recently signed an executive order on protecting federal workers that does a few things,” said Emily Stewart. “One big thing is that it starts a process of requiring federal contractors to pay their workers at least 15 dollars as a minimum wage. It also revokes some of Trump’s executive orders that made it easier to fire federal employees and limit union activity.”

Made in America

“The president also recently signed an executive order to buy American, which basically is aimed at boosting American manufacturing through federal procurement processes,” Stewart said. “It deals with requirements for purchasing products and services that are from U.S. workers, and it closes some loopholes that companies use to offshore production and jobs.”

HUD

“On the efforts that he has already introduced to promote racial equity, Joe Biden actually has a new package of four measures aimed at achieving that same goal,” said Li Zhou. “The first of these measures is acknowledging discriminatory housing practices that have hurt people of color for years, including redlining and mortgage discrimination.”

Prisons

“The second of these measures is one that would end the federal government’s use of private prisons, and the reason behind this is that there has been research that shows that private prisons are more harmful to both inmates and correctional officers, Many experts in the space have said that this is a good start, but that it feels more symbolic at this time and that they’d like to see him take more efforts that address public prisons as well,” Zhou said. 

Tribal Sovereignty

“The third of these relates to tribal sovereignty and acknowledging Native American tribes’ ability to have self-governance, which is something that’s been long established, but that was really brushed aside during the Trump administration in terms of protections for native lands and respect for these relationships,” Zhou said. 

Discrimination

“This measure is intended to condemn the racism that Asian-Americans have faced during the pandemic and to really mark a stark shift away from the way that the Trump administration talked about the pandemic and its use of racist terms like ‘China virus’ and ‘kung flu.’ What Biden is asking is for federal agencies to not provide documentation that promotes racism,” Zhou said. 

Who Can Serve?

“What this executive order essentially does is reverse the Trump policy, which ostensibly bans trans people from serving in the military,” said Katelyn Burns. “The Trump administration tried to make the argument that it was not a ban on trans people serving because they built a carve-out in within the rule for trans people to serve within their, quote, biological sex role.”

Reproductive Health

Basically, this memorandum does two main things,” said Anna North. “The first thing it does is it revokes the Mexico City policy, which reproductive health groups also call ‘the global gag rule.’ This is a rule that bars groups abroad that get U.S. family planning funds from providing, referring for or even talking about abortion. It’s kind of a political light switch, it started with President Reagan and then every Democratic president turns it off, every Republican president turns it back on.” 

Today, Explained, is a daily podcast by VOX that guides you through the most important news stories of the day.  Learn more about the podcast by clicking this link.

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PODCAST REVIEW: Colors: A Dialogue on Race in America

Hosts JJ Green and Chris Core deliver a candid discussion on race in America by sharing the stories of those who are on the frontlines of the struggle.

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A podcast produced by WTOP Radio in Washington D.C. discusses the plight of Black farmers in the United States. Colors: A Dialogue of Race in America, hosted by WTOP National Security Correspondent JJ Green and former WTOP contributor Chris Core, delivers a candid discussion on race in America by sharing the stories of those who are on the frontlines of the struggle.

Joining Green and Core for episode 38 is Dr. John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association. Boyd believes that black farmers are facing extinction because of the act of discrimination. Boyd’s organization represents 109,000 farmers in 42 states.

A report published in 2019 by the U.S. Government Accountability office supports Boyd’s claims that minority farmers may not be on an even level playing field with their white counterparts. The report discovered that minorities have a difficult time obtaining loans and credit from private lenders and banks regulated by the United State Department of Agriculture.

“The USDA has done an awful thing by taking land away from Black farmers,” Boyd said. “During the peaks of the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s we lost millions of acres of land. When we first started organizing and protesting and rallying around this issue in the mid 90’s the USDA had 1.5 million acres of land in its federal inventory that came from Black farmers like me.”

In addition to his work with the National Black Farmers Association, Boyd runs a Virginia farm where he manages 1500 acres. Two years ago, he was denied a farm operating loan for the first time in nearly two decades.

In 1999, he and 400 other Black farmers sued the USDA in a case known as Pigford v. Glickman where the USDA admitted to discriminating against thousands of Black farmers. The lawsuit was settled two years later when the government compensated Black farmers left out of USDA loan and assistance programs.

More than 13,000 farmers able to provide proof of their claims of discrimination were awarded $50,000 each and given debt relief in a package worth than $1 billion. On the other hand, tens of thousands of claims were denied for missing the filing deadline.

“When we started making progress in the courts, the USDA immediately began to sell and lease this land to white farmers who were on the county committee,” Boyd said. “That discrimination has led to a drastic decrease in numbers.”

The total number of Black farmers in this country has steadily been on the decline since the early 1900’s. As of 2017, there were only 50,000 Black farmers nationwide. The reason, without loans or access to USDA support programs, Black farmland has become vulnerable to sale or foreclosure.

“We would only receive a fraction of the loans we applied for to borrow,” said Boyd after being asked about systemic racism in the Black farming community. “I don’t think I have ever received a farm operating loan from the government for more than $5,000.

Colors: A Dialogue of Race in America is a revival of a similar radio show in 1993 at WMAL called Black and White. Their show aired following the beating of Los Angeles motorist Rodney King.

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PODCAST REVIEW: Deconstructed by The Intercept

The Deconstructed podcast by The Intercept dives into the controversy that has emerged in the days following the winter storm in Texas and subsequent power failure.

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Millions of Texans are dealing with the aftermath of a relentless winter storm that knocked out power and left some without running water. The storm is also being blamed for at least 26 deaths. Unfortunately, politics have taken center stage following the catastrophic failure of the state’s power grid.

The state is rich in fossil fuels and renewable power, so the power grid has been free from federal oversight for decades. The Deconstructed podcast by The Intercept dives into the controversy that has emerged in the days following the storm and subsequent power failure.

Host Ryan Grim spoke to former congressional candidate Mike Siegel and former Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, about how the state’s power grid collapsed and whether this event could have been prevented.

The episode seeks to blame state Republicans who gained control of the Texas House of Representatives in the early part of the century. The show suggests the party devised a gerrymandering scheme that ultimately resulted in an experiment in deregulation that led to the great energy collapse of 2021.

O’Rourke blasted the state’s Republican party saying that there are some politicians in the state government who are “in the highest positions of public trust who just fundamentally don’t believe in government.” While O’Rourke believes the state’s GOP party is to blame, those on the other side feel the Green New Deal is the culprit.

The argument may be flawed given the fact the deal has not become federal law yet. Fox and other Right-wing networks spent a majority of last week blaming frozen wind turbines for the state’s power failure.

“Unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas, the power grid in the state became totally reliant on windmills,” said Tucker Carlson during his Feb. 16 show. “Then it got cold and the windmills broke, because that’s what happens in the Green New Deal.”

During a two-day period, windmills or wind turbines were mentioned more than 100 times on Fox News and Fox Business, according to TVEyes, a media monitoring service.

“The windmills failed, like the silly fashion accessories they are, and people in Texas died,” Carlson continued. “Green energy inevitably means blackouts.”

The State of Texas is not immune from major winter storms. According to data gathered by the National Weather Service, most of Texas gets less than an inch of snow per year on average. West Texas, places like Amarillo and El Paso, gets more snow than the rest of the state.

“It wasn’t as if Texas didn’t know cold winters were possible,” Grimm said. “In 1989 a cold snap crashed below zero and caused major power outages. “In 2011, it happened again which forced rolling power blackouts across the state. Politics got us into this mess, and only politics will get us out.”

Mike Siegel, a teacher, and civil rights attorney came up short in his first run for a Texas congressional seat in 2018 and 2020 claims state Republicans have sold residents out by controlling big oil and big gas.

“This is a catastrophic failure of Republican governance,” Siegel said. “Going back 20 years or more when they supported deregulation, allowing for an electrical system that’s basically on-demand spot bidding, these energy providers are basically buying energy on the market and so the price goes up ten-thousand percent. That is just business as usual in Texas.”

Siegel said 10 years ago the state had a major freeze where the recommendation that came out of that was that the state need to weatherize the grid and the facilities and Republican leaders never followed through on that plan.

“We have frozen wells, frozen lines, and that’s a big part of our electrical grid here in Texas,” he said. “Most of our reserve energy that is supposed to come through for us at a time like this, didn’t come online. They (Republicans) would never look at themselves in the mirror. Governor Abbott would never admit to failure.”

Siegel said the GOP’S cover-up was to blanket right-wing news outlets and create the narrative that the Green New Deal. 

Each week the Intercept’s Washington D.C. bureau brings you one important or overlooked story from the political world. Bureau Chief Ryan Grimes and a rotating cast of journalists, politicians, academics, and historians tell you what the media is missing.

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PODCAST REVIEW: The DeMaio Report

Host Carl DeMaio spoke to supervisor Joel Anderson who supported police officers receiving the vaccine. The vote to not vaccinate police officers came after the local law enforcement community urged officials to consider the danger officers face responding to calls.

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The debate about who should be vaccinated first rages on in San Diego, California where the county board of supervisors has voted against police officers getting the shot. Currently, law enforcement is included in Phase 1B – Tier.

The DeMaio Report podcast hosted by former city council member and NewsRadio 600 KOGO host Carl DeMaio spoke to supervisor Joel Anderson who supported police officers receiving the vaccine. The vote to not vaccinate police officers came after the local law enforcement community urged officials to consider the danger officers face responding to calls.

“How can we possibly exclude our law enforcement when they are critical to many parts in the county?” said Anderson. “If they’re struck down by COVID, yes like firefighters and other young people they’re not likely to die but others may because they weren’t there to protect them.”

The county has already vaccinated firefighters, many of whom are cross trained as paramedics. Most police officers do not function as paramedics, but the Governor Newsome said counties can adjust the phases and tiers as they see fit.

Anderson said there are more than 20 counties that vaccinate law enforcement, including several in Southern California. Another obstacle to getting police officers vaccinated is the face that they only make up 0.2% of all COVID cases in San Diego County.

“We have lost two enforcement officers to this virus that I am aware of,” Anderson said. “The push for them to be moved ahead in the vaccination process is not because I am concerned that they are more susceptible, it’s the nature of their job, they are first responders.”

The county’s public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten said she would not support changing the tiers because she wanted to make sure senior citizens received the vaccine and others who might have preexisting health conditions.

The board voted 3-2 against making the item. Even if it had passed, it was only a recommendation. The final decision would have rested with Wooten, as public health officer. 

“Last year, over 10,000 people’s lives were saved by police officers gave CPR,” Anderson said. “Now, you can imagine, somebody is giving CPR, they don’t know that they have COVID, they share it with all of their fellow employees and those employees go home and share it with their family members.”

Anderson said one of his main concerns is the availability of the vaccine and if an outbreak occurs at the police department, the availability of police in the county to handle the volume of calls necessary to protect the public.

Like all issues that have to do with the coronavirus, the question about who should get vaccinated first seems like a partisan issue. All three Democrats, Nathan Fletcher, Nora Varags, and Terra Lawson-Remer voted against allowing police officers to receive the vaccine.

“To do it today would be taking a vaccine away from a senior,” said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who opposed the item. “For that senior, COVID can be a death sentence.”

The DeMaio Report offers candid discussion on the latest in local and national political headlines. The show also features input and commentary from listeners, fueling political engagement in the San Diego community.

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