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Podcast Reveal
Podcast Reveal



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  • The Bitter Work Behind Sugar
    Sugar is a big part of Americans’ daily diet, but we rarely ask where that sweet cane comes from.   In November, the United States announced that it will block all imports of raw sugar from one of those sources: the cane fields owned by the Central Romana Corp. in the Dominican Republic. U.S. Customs and Border Protection cited labor abuses in its decision. Sugar from Central Romana feeds into the supply chains of major U.S. brands, including Domino and Hershey.  The federal government’s action follows a two-year investigation by Reveal and Mother Jones. Reporters Sandy Tolan and Euclides Cordero Nuel visited Haitian migrants in the Dominican Republic who do the backbreaking work of cutting sugarcane for little pay. Central Romana is the Dominican Republic’s largest private employer and has strong links to two powerful Florida businessmen, Alfonso and Pepe Fanjul. The reporters speak to workers who have no access to government pensions, so they’re forced to work in the fields into their 80s for as little as $3 a day. In the 1990s, Tolan reported on human trafficking and child labor in the Dominican sugar industry. Conditions improved following pressure on the government from local activists, human rights groups and the U.S. Labor Department. But major problems have persisted.   After Reveal’s story first aired in fall 2021, Congress took action. Fifteen members of the House Ways and Means Committee called on federal agencies to formulate a plan to address what they called the “slave-like conditions” in the Dominican cane fields. Central Romana also took action: It bulldozed one of the worker camps our reporters visited, claiming it was part of an improvement program. Residents say that with very little warning, they were told to pack up their lives. Central Romana denies the U.S. government’s recent findings that its cane cutters are working under forced labor conditions. This is an update of an episode that originally aired in September 2021.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • A Reckoning at Amazon
    After years of growth, Amazon is now laying off thousands of employees. But with the holiday season underway, the company’s warehouse workers still have to race to fill gift orders. This week, Reveal revisits Amazon’s safety record. Host Al Letson speaks with Reveal’s Will Evans, who’s been reporting on injuries at Amazon for years. By gathering injury data and speaking with workers and whistleblowers, he has shown that Amazon warehouse employees are injured on the job at a higher rate than at other companies. Evans’ reporting has focused national attention on the company’s safety record, prompting regulators, lawmakers and the company itself to address the issue more closely. This November, members of Congress scrutinized Amazon’s working conditions—and at the state level, lawmakers and safety regulators are taking action against Amazon in ways they never have before.   Then, we bring back a story by Jennifer Gollan that looks at the most common type of injury at Amazon and other workplaces, repetitive motion injuries. Gollan reports that decades ago, the federal government decided to impose safety regulations to try and prevent these injuries, then abruptly changed its mind.  We end with a reprise of a story from reporter Laura Sydell about online reviews of products and businesses and how many of them are not what they seem.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • How Democracy Survived the Midterm Elections
    Reveal host Al Letson talks with leading academics and journalists to take the temperature of American democracy: What did we expect from the midterms, what did we get, and what does that mean for 2024? Reveal’s Ese Olumhense and Mother Jones senior reporter Ari Berman discuss how gerrymandering, abortion rights, election denial and fear of voting crimes played out in contentious states like Arizona, Wisconsin and Florida. Next, Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, who report on threats to democracy for ProPublica and are hosts of the podcast WIll Be Wild, join Letson to discuss how the violence and disinformation that sparked the Jan. 6 insurrection continues to shape the country’s political landscape. The reporters tell the story of how the Department of Homeland Security backed off efforts to identify and combat false information after Republican pundits and politicians accused the Biden administration of stomping on the free speech rights of anyone who disagrees with them. Then, reporter Jessica Pishko delves into the world of a group called the constitutional sheriffs. This association of rogue sheriffs claims to be the highest law in the land and has increasingly come to see themselves as election police. Pishko attends a meeting in Arizona where Richard Mack, a leader of the movement who has also been involved with the far-right Oath Keepers, extols the rights of sheriffs to get involved in monitoring elections. In recent years, this right-wing group has grown from a fringe organization to one with national power and prominence. Pishko discusses the chilling effect these sheriffs have on voting. In his time as president, Donald Trump bucked the norms and mixed presidential duties with personal business, refused to release his tax returns and pardoned his political allies.This week, he announced he’s running for president again in 2024. Letson speaks with two lawyers who have spent the past two years identifying how to rein in presidential power and close loopholes Trump exposed: Bob Bauer, former White House counsel for President Barack Obama, and Jack Goldsmith, former assistant attorney general in President George W. Bush’s Office of Legal Counsel. They’re also co-authors of the 2020 book “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency.” Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • The City (Revealed)
    Robin Amer of USA Today’s investigative podcast The City shares the story behind a massive illegal dump that appeared in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood in the ’90s. Local kids remember playing on the 21-acre, six-story mountain of debris, and adults recall the seemingly endless stream of dump trucks that rumbled down the street to the formerly vacant lot at all hours of the day and night. Wind blowing over the dump covered the neighborhood in thick dust, affecting the health of nearby residents. When community leaders confronted the man responsible for the dump, they found he was just one part of a larger operation.  The FBI was using the North Lawndale dump and the man who created it as part of an investigation into political corruption called Operation Silver Shovel. The operation would bring down politicians and city officials who accepted bribes for allowing things like the illegal dump to happen in their districts. But after the indictments and the operation’s end, no one wanted to take responsibility for cleaning up the dump – not the FBI, not the City of Chicago and not the man who created it. The debris sat for years, leaving North Lawndale residents feeling angry and used. The civic neglect and institutional racism that allowed the dump to happen in the first place has continued, long after the last truck of debris was carted away.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
  • Climate Makers and Takers
    Sea levels are rising – and the United States has a lot to learn from countries that are already adapting. Reporter Shola Lawal of the podcast Threshold explores how two communities in Nigeria are dealing with it.  Lagos, the booming coastal city of Nigeria, is growing even as rising water levels threaten its future. Lawal visits the informal community of Makoko, where people have learned to live with water: Many homes are built on stilts. In a community where many people make a living fishing, small houses rise above the water, vendors sell vegetables and goods from floating markets, and locals ferry people to destinations in canoes. A lack of dry land has forced residents to innovate in creative ways. But the government has threatened to destroy Makoko, declaring the neighborhood an eyesore.   Next, Lawal visits Eko Atlantic City, an “ultra-modern” luxury city that a development company is building on sand dredged up from the ocean floor. In contrast to the scrappy adaptations Makoko residents have made to live on water, the million-dollar apartments of Eko Atlantic are protected by an enormous seawall.  Each year, global leaders gather to discuss the climate crisis at COP, the United Nations climate conference. Threshold Executive Producer Amy Martin talks with Reveal host Al Letson about this year’s COP27. While nearly every country on the planet attends these annual conferences, a much smaller number – about 20 economies – are responsible for 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. That’s left more vulnerable countries asking – what are the richest countries going to do to pay for the damage they’ve caused?  Support Reveal’s journalism at Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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