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News » Hits & Misses

Tough Talk Radio

Also: Amazon spies, nuclear waste



Tough Talk Radio
There is a compelling reason to keep National Public Radio viable, and it has nothing to do with a “liberal” agenda. It’s about context and perspective. Out rolled the news that 15 million children, or 20 percent of the juvenile population, lived in poverty in 2009. Large school districts saw the greatest surge in childhood poverty, with minorities suffering the most. On top of that, one in two people are poor or low-income because of lost jobs or single parenthood. NPR tells us “low-income children are likely to suffer academically, economically and socially long after their parents have recovered.” But Talk of the Nation also asked the question: How did kids find out they were poor? Turns out elementary students were the least affected. But teens talk and compare, making them more cynical, delinquent and disappointed in their parents.

Amazon’s Orwell Trip

Leave it to the inimitable independent bookseller Betsy Burton to call foul on a nefarious plot by Amazon to turn customers into spies, all in the name of profit. Amazon wants its customers to scan store inventory using a price-checking smartphone application. And, on Dec. 10, if the customer bought a qualifying product from Amazon (toys, electronics, sporting goods, music and DVDs) instead of the store, they got an additional 5 percent discount. Burton points out that stores like The King’s English Bookshop have to collect sales tax, unlike Amazon, and she wants Utah legislators to take note. Amazon, with annual revenue topping $34 billion, is engaged in what Burton calls corporate espionage, and she’s in a David-and-Goliath fight to the finish. A few bucks for her is life or death. Meanwhile, pick up her book The King’s English at a discount from Amazon. Or not.

Some Like it Hot
’Tis the season to blend stuff, from flour and sugar to radioactive nuclear wastes. The Utah Radiation Control Board recently decided to allow a small amount of blended waste to be buried at the EnergySolutions site—this before the company completes its performance plan. There’s a lot of controversy over just how hot blended waste is. ES calls the process “downblending” and says it’s as benign as a sugar cookie. HEAL Utah says it’s more like a chocolate-chip cookie where the hot chips can migrate to the top. And HEAL thinks blended wastes are just a ruse that will allow ES to accept hotter wastes than permitted. Congressman Jim Matheson, D-District 2, thinks the whole idea opens the state to hotter wastes.

Twitter: @KathyBiele