Breaking-news or not

The news is broken, but you knew that.

Instead of reporting on the real threats to our lives – like airborne bullets – we’re inundated with fear mongering about Ebola and ISIS, neither of which are as likely to kill you here in the US (or anyone you know) than a bullet from a gun. But ISIS and now Ebola are the weapons that the corporate-owned and operated media is using to whip you into a frenzy, while they ignore the real danger that could end any of our lives in an instant.

I was happy to see an article at The Nation called, “Whatever Happened to Gun Control?” as it’s the same question I’ve been asking. It’s author, George Zornick, Washington editor of The Nation, joined me on the show this morning to commiserate about the “Opposite World” nature of it.

I will keep talking about our gun problem, as I know that ignoring it will not make it go away!

I’ll also keep talking about the rest of the important news that the corporate, mainstream media is ignoring. For instance, did you know that we had a potentially catastrophic nuclear accident in Illinois Sunday night? Of course not, because none of the major media outlets have reported it. I wouldn’t have known about it either, had it not been for one of my regular listeners in the chat room this morning telling us about it.

But it happened, and details are still quite sketchy. Here’s what we do know: The West Kentucky Star reported 

METROPOLIS, IL – The Honeywell plant in Metropolis confirmed a leak of uranium hexafluoride at around 7:35 pm Sunday.

In a news release issued late Sunday night, the company said the “leak has been contained and a trained response team is currently working to ensure the leak has been stopped completely.”

Honeywell spokesman Peter Dalpe said in the news release that “there have been no injuries and there is no indication that any material has left the building. All plant emergency procedures were followed and safety equipment worked as designed.” West Kentucky Star received pictures and videos believed to be taken at the plant Sunday night showing a white, cloudy substance above the plant, moving off to the west. Dalpe told WSIL-TV that the cloudy substance was spray from water used to contain leaks.

Massac County Emergency Management Director Joe Miller said he was contacted by Honeywell. Miller said the leak was contained to the inside the building.  He told WSIL-TV that Honeywell was under a plant emergency, but there was no danger to surrounding homes. 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been notified, and the plant is still operating.   The leak comes at a time the company and union-backed workers at the Massac County plant are embroiled in a contract dispute.

Employees have been locked out of the site since August.

There are a few things in that article that demand further examination. First, the statement “Employees have been locked out of the site since August.” 

Actually, the employees who’ve been locked out were members of the United Steelworkers Union. A visit to their website turns up a much more comprehensive report on Sunday night’s accident and more about who was running the plant at the time of the leak.

USW: Contractor-Installed Equipment Involved

in Suspected Major Leak at Honeywell Plant

Experienced union employees remain locked out by company

Metropolis, Ill. (October 27, 2014) ­– The United Steelworkers (USW) union is calling for an investigation after photos and videos taken Sunday evening showed suspected hazardous gas escaping the Honeywell uranium conversion facility in Metropolis, Ill.

The suspected release of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) comes nearly three months after Honeywell locked out 150 USW Local 7-669 members on Aug. 2 and replaced a group of experienced and well-trained workers with temporary laborers who lack adequate experience in dealing with hazardous substances.

“It is time for Honeywell to end this senseless lockout, return these 150 experienced workers to their jobs, and come to terms on a new, fair contract agreement,” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

“Furthermore, the USW calls on U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who represents at least half of the permanent Honeywell workforce, to seek a full investigation into this incident to make sure it never happens again. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must perform an independent investigation of the release and the failed response.”

Rep. John Shimkus (R, IL), whose district includes Metropolis, is the senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but has failed to take issue with the facility. Shimkus’ top campaign contributor is Honeywell Int.

In conversations with USW Local 7-669 President Stephen Lech, an NRC representative blamed Sunday’s leak on the failure of equipment that was installed by outside contractors, work that was previously done in-house by USW members.

UF6, used in the uranium enrichment process, is highly corrosive and reactive and can cause severe burns and serious radiation exposure upon contact with skin.

While a Honeywell representative in New Jersey told local media that “there is no indication that any material has left the building,” raw video taken outside the plant (see links below) shows the suspected gas leaving the building for at least six minutes before water mitigation towers were activated.

Witnesses who saw the plume leaving the plant property placed multiple 911 calls but were told that the release was “in house” and “under control.”

“There was a systematic breakdown in the response to the emergency. It wasn’t just our people; local citizens called 911 and were told that the company has reported the situation to be under control, all while they watched the gaseous vapor leave the building and the site,” said Lech, who was on the scene during the incident. “A company spokesman in New Jersey and an NRC office in Georgia were reporting on events in Metropolis while we watched the reality of the situation unfold.”

The USW also is calling for an immediate “town hall” meeting with the company to provide the community and employees with an explanation and to offer citizens a chance to voice their concerns.

“By continuing this foolish lockout, Honeywell is putting not just employees but an entire community at risk of disaster,” said USW Health, Safety and Environment Director Mike Wright. “This situation has to end.”

For videos of the Honeywell incident, please visit the following links:

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a wide range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

For more on the accident, check out ENEnews (also the best source for information about Fukushima – another disaster ignored by the mainstream media).  Where’s the reporting on something so important? Not on your television unless, perhaps,  if you’re in the vicinity. Metropolis, IL? I think this is a job for Superman.

Sadly, Superman isn’t real. Instead, we have politicians pandering to their biggest donors and ignoring the constituents who get taken in by the lies in their attack ads that fill the once-public airwaves. Radio and Television stations used to be licensed to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” Those requirements flew out the window in favor of the highest bidder, and the public be damned.

Election Day is one week from today. Most of the pundits and prognosticators are still predicting that the Republicans will take control of the Senate when all is said and done. Of course, the polls in the races that the GOP must win to make that happen are too close to call. Again, consider the source and remember who’s signing the paychecks for these people! It’ll all come down to which ever party is more successful at getting their voters to the polls. Period.

I get the disgust with the Democrats. But turning control over to the Republicans would make things even worse. Two articles this morning drive home that point.

The first comes from Politico with the headline, “White House ponders life with a Republican Senate,” and starts off with the ominous line,

Nervous that Democrats could lose control of the Senate, the White House is already discussing how to cut deals with a Republican majority.


John Nichols at The Nation puts it all in greater context with “How a Divided Senate Could Threaten Social Security.” Mark my words, if the Republican Party controls both Houses of Congress, President Obama will resurrect his Grand Bargain and “Chained CPI” will re-enter the American lexicon. I promise you, that is a bad, very bad thing that will hurt many more Americans than Ebola and ISIS combined.


I was supposed to talk with Katrina vanden Heuvel today about her visit to Moscow and conversation with Edward Snowden. She had to reschedule and will, instead, join me next Thursday morning. In the meantime, you should read the riveting interview here.

I’ll be back tomorrow with Crooks & Liars’ Susie Madrak and, in the wake of a report from Anonymous’ Operation Ferguson saying that no indictment will be handed down in the killing of Mike Brown, we’ll discuss racism in America with the always-brilliant Tim Wise… radio or not!