Wednesday, March 19, 2014

  • Black, Latino Firefighters in New York City Settle Long-Running Suit over Racial Discrimination

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    Some 1,500 Black and Latino applicants to the Fire Department of New York have settled a long-running lawsuit with the city and the Justice Department over racially discriminatory hiring practices at the nation’s largest fire department. The agreement grants almost $100 million in back pay to those impacted. When the case was filed in 2007, the Fire Department was 90 percent white, even though African Americans and Latinos totaled half the city’s population. Under the new agreement, the Fire Department will be required to change its recruiting policies in order to increase diversity and make the department more representative of the city’s population. We discuss the settlement with two guests: Paul Washington, past president of the black firefighters’ group, the Vulcan Society of Black Firefighters, and captain of Engine 234 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; and Richard Levy, the case’s lead attorney.

  • Fukushima Fallout: Ailing U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Higher Than Normal

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    Three years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scores of U.S. sailors and marines are suing the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, for allegedly misleading the Navy about the level of radioactive contamination. Many of the servicemembers who provided humanitarian relief during the disaster have experienced devastating health ailments since returning from Japan, ranging from leukemia to blindness to infertility to birth defects. We are joined by three guests: Lieutenant Steve Simmons, a U.S. Navy sailor who served on board the USS Ronald Reagan and joined in the class action lawsuit against TEPCO after suffering health problems; Charles Bonner, an attorney for the sailors; and Kyle Cleveland, sociology professor and associate director of the Institute for Contemporary Asian Studies at Temple University’s Japan campus in Tokyo. Cleveland recently published transcripts of the Navy’s phone conversations about Fukushima that took place at the time of the disaster, which suggest commanders were also aware of the risk faced by sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan.