Friday, January 4, 2013

  • Newly Sworn-In 113th Congress Is the Most Diverse in History, But Not the Most Progressive

    Most-diverse-congress-1

    We look at the newly sworn-in 113th Congress with The Nation magazine’s political writer, John Nichols. The House now has 81 women, 61 of them Democrats, while the new Senate includes 20 women. There will be 44 African Americans in the House and one in the Senate. The Congress also includes nine new Latino members, making it the largest Latino class in history with 28 House seats and three Senate seats, two of whom are Republican. The new Congress also includes the first openly gay senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and the first open bisexual representative, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, as well as more religious diversity with two two Buddhists, a Hindu and several Muslims. For the first time, white men will be a minority among House Democrats. "We have to be very, very cautious about presuming that simply having a more diverse Congress means that we’re going to get better results," notes Nichols, who stresses the importance of filibuster reform, which lawmakers are expected to address in the coming weeks. [includes rush transcript]

  • Is Fracking Safe? Debate on Controversial Natural Gas Drilling Technique as NY Moratorium May Expire

    Fracking-graphic

    The controversial use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," that is behind the country’s natural gas boom has come under scrutiny in the new Hollywood drama, "Promised Land," and met stiff resistance in New York state, where a four-year moratorium against the process could soon expire. Supporters say fracking is essential to U.S. energy independence, a way to revitalize depressed rural areas with new mining jobs and gas projects. But opponents warn that hundreds of millions of gallons of chemically treated water used in the process will pollute drinking water supplies and agricultural fields. New research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado say methane — a potent greenhouse gas — may be escaping from gas sites at much higher rates than previously thought. To dive into this firestorm of debate, today we host a debate with two supporters of fracking and two opponents. We are joined by Kate Hudson, Watershed Program director at Riverkeeper, New York’s clean water advocate; Phelim McAleer, a filmmaker who produced a pro-fracking documentary called "FrackNation"; Daniel Simmons, director of state of regulatory affairs at the Institute for Energy Research; and Mayor Matt Ryan of Binghamton, New York, who is a former professor of environmental law and outspoken opponent of fracking. [includes rush transcript]

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