Spectrum Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.
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Spectrum features conversations with an eclectic group of fascinating people, some are famous and some are not, but they all have captivating stories.More from Spectrum »

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EPA Regulation Rollbacks are 'Really Alarming' says Health Science Expert

Some 70 environmental regulations have been rolled back by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) since the beginning of the Trump Administration. And, Dr. Michele Morrone, professor of Environmental Health Science at Ohio University finds this to be "really alarming." She claims that these rollbacks are exposing citizens, especially in Appalachia and other poverty stricken areas to increased environmental health risks – including danger to the purity of drinking water. Anxiety and other mental health issues also may be associated with environmental health Dr. Morrone claims the EPA is putting the promise of some jobs before concerns over people's health. She cites the easing of regulations on coal burning power plants as an example. The easing of these regulations will cause between 350 and 1,500 deaths nationally, according to the EPA's own study. The northern two-thirds of West Virginia and Pennsylvania will be hit the hardest, according to a recent Associated Press story. In addition, the EPA has eased the monitoring of coal ash impoundment facilities. Coal ash, containing mercury, arsenic and other substances, is stored in large holes in the ground and the ash soaks into the ground or spills over causing dangers to ground water and the surrounding environment. Recently, a coal ash impoundment facility burst as a result of Hurricane Florence and its contents spewed into the surrounding area. Another concern is large lagoons used to store pig manure. These are vulnerable to Hurricanes and other natural disasters. For example, North Carolina, where Hurricane Florence struck, is estimated by the "New York Times" to have 9.7 million pigs producing 10 billion gallons of manure annually. "The Trump Administration is showing no concern over people's health today, people's health tomorrow, or people's health 15 years from now," Dr. Morrone claims. In addition to being concerned over environmental regulation rollbacks, she also is concerned about the fact that, under the Trump Administration, we no longer have viable climate change action plans. Former plans were revoked by the President. All of these factors cause Dr. Morrone to have concerns for the health and safety of our population. Dr. Morrone is the current Coordinator of the Environmental Health Science Program at Ohio University and also is the National Director of the Appalachian Rural Health Institute.

EPA Regulation Rollbacks are 'Really Alarming' says Health Science Expert

Democratic Party has Lost Its Soul Says Author/Activist Thomas Reston

Long-time Democratic activist and author Thomas B. Reston says the Democratic Party has lost its way and lost its soul over the past generation or more. In his book, "Soul of a Democrat: Seven Core Ideals that Made our Party and Our Country – Great," Reston claims that the party has lost its focus and it has jettisoned old philosophies that historically sparked the electorate. He cites the Presidential Election of 2016 as an example. He gives reasons for the party's lackluster recent performances and outlines suggestions on how it can right itself. Reston claims that Democrats spend too much time running against and attacking Donald Trump and not enough time and effort crafting a messages that would resonate with voters. Instead of developing a unifying message that would appeal to the whole electorate, he claims Democrats also spend too much time and effort targeting specific blocs of voters and tailoring a number of messages to appeal to those individual blocs. He asserts that President Trump, as a candidate, espoused messages that took many traditional Democratic voters away from the party. Reston says Democrats need to get back to seven basic ideals: 1) Stand for the individual common person; 2) Fight for all outsiders; 3) Honor today's secular altruism; 4) Making the ideas and ideals of the party understandable to everyone; 5) Bolster economic security for all; 6) Return to a pragmatic and idealistic foreign policy; and 7) Support the ongoing struggle for civil rights. In his book, he uses historical references to individuals who are mainstays of the Democratic Party to make his points — people like Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Reston has spent his life in politics. He has worked for eight presidential campaigns and countless state and local elections. He was twice the Secretary of the Democratic Party of Virginia and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs under President Jimmy Carter. He also is a strong civil rights advocate. He has twice been Chair of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF).

Trump Treats Diplomacy and "Intelligence" Like Reality TV: Says Security Expert

David Crane has dedicated his professional life to intelligence and security issues both nationally and internationally. He has a long history of service and has risked his life for his country. But, at this point, he is extremely concerned about how President Trump in handling intelligence and security issues. Crane says that Trump ignores or refuses to hear security briefings and he goes into major foreign policy events (like the meetings with Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un) grossly unprepared. In fact, Crane says Trump treats the meetings more like "reality television" instead of diplomatic summits. As a result of the President's negative views on "intelligence," Crane paints a rather dismal picture of where the United States is in world politics. According to Crane, America is withdrawing from the world stage and relinquishing its role as a world power. America is at its weakest point since its war for independence, Crane notes. Crane also in the podcast explains the rights of federal employees not to be fired without due process and just cause and explains the issues surrounding revoking of "security clearances." Again, he cites the President's actions as being more "theater" than "substance." Historically, the Congress and the House and Senate oversight committees on "intelligence" acted as checks and balances against abuses of Presidential power. However, Crane sadly reports that the House Intelligence Committee has abdicated that role and instead is doing the bidding of the President. He also finds danger in the President demanding unswerving loyalty and allegiance to himself instead of the Constitution. Crane notes that the oath of office of any federal employee swears allegiance to the Constitution and not to a particular leader. He claims that President Trump either does not have the "intellectual capacity or the depth to understand that." Crane also notes that the national and international "rule of law" is threatened by this President. The President "does not believe in the rule of law" and "sees it as a hindrance," Crane says. Crane currently is the Ohio Glidden Visiting Professor at Ohio University in 2018-2019. He is a security specialist and international lawyer. He spent over 30 years in top-level intelligence work for the government. He also helped create and was the founding director of the Office of Intelligence Review for the Department of Defense. From 2002 to 2005, Crane was the Chief Prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone. This was an international war crimes tribunal that brought Liberian President Charles Taylor to justice for horrific crimes. For the past decade, Crane has been a Professor of Practice at the Syracuse University College of Law teaching international criminal law, international humanitarian law and national security law. Crane received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Ohio University and his law degree from Syracuse University. He received an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Ohio University in 2017.

Trump Treats Diplomacy and "Intelligence" Like Reality TV: Says Security Expert

Trump's Assaults against News Media are Heightening Security Concerns

The incessant drumbeat of news media criticism by President Donald J. Trump is causing some major concerns among the press and First Amendment advocates, according to veteran, award-winning journalist Andrew Alexander. Alexander is a former Washington Post ombudsman, a former Washington Bureau chief for Cox Newspapers and an award winning veteran journalist with more than four decades of experience. He says that the characterization of news media as "enemies of the people" has both domestic and global ramifications. In this podcast, Alexander spells out some of the dangers this President poses to the First Amendment and how Trump differs—in that regard from past Presidents. Alexander notes that the phrase "enemies of the people" is one that Vladimir Lenin used to characterized the news media during the communist takeover of the former Soviet Union. Reporters who were so named were often imprisoned to silence their voices. Under the subsequent Joseph Stalin regime, alleged "dissident" reporters were often killed. Alexander notes that as anger increases against reporters covering the President, that many are now being provided, for their protection, with private security guards by their news organizations. Some also have gone through special training on how to handle themselves in violent situations. This is not normal. Alexander and other veteran reporters who have covered numerous Presidents have never seen the danger level against reporters to be this high. However, daily Pres. Trump stokes the fires of his base by the endless repetition of the phrases: "Fake News" and "Enemies of the People." Two factors make these attacks different than in the past, according to Alexander. One is the use of social media for Trump to talk with and to enflame his constituents directly and the second is the delineation of cable news into ideological segments: FOX News on the right and MSNBC on the left. This segmentation often leads to echo chambers and intolerance for other perspectives. In addition to domestic turmoil, Alexander says that the President's continued hostility against the American news media gives license to dictators and despots around the globe to crack-down on their reporters. President Trump is setting the example of how to demonize reporters, Alexander noted.

Bloomberg's White House Correspondent Says Fact-Checking is Important

While White House reporters often are given releases and official statements by the President or his staff, it is more important than ever to vet the facts and go through a rather thorough fact checking process before publishing the material, says Toluse Olorunnipa, one of Bloomberg News' six White House correspondents. In the competitive White House journalism environment, Olorunnipa says it is important to be first with a story and beat other news organizations but it is more important to be accurate. Bloomberg often will quote what the President says and then also note the facts as determined from other official sources. Many of his media colleagues often quote unidentified sources or anonymous sources as a result of leaks. However, at Bloomberg, Olorunnipa is not permitted to quote an unidentified source. Therefore, all of his material that is quoted must be "on the record" comments from officials. A similar policy is in place at the Associated Press but not so at the Washington Post or the New York Times. In addition to regular reporting from the West Wing, Bloomberg correspondents have the additional responsibility to be one of three permanent members of the press pool that covers all of the President's activities. They join Reuters and the Associated Press and provide extensive pool coverage of all the President's moves and comments. Olorunnipa believes that the news media would have greater credibility if the public actually knew how the news process operates and the myriad of checks, balances, and ethical considerations reporters and editors go through to produce the news. In short, he is an advocate for more transparency in the news process. In addition to his regular reporting duties, Olorunnipa also says it is part of his responsibility to appear on various television, cable and radio news programs to discuss the news of the day or a particular story. He says Bloomberg News expects its reporters to participate in those other media options. Olorunnipa has covered the White House for Bloomberg since 2015 under both President Barack Obama and President Trump. Before that he was stationed in Florida covering breaking news in the South for Bloomberg.

Nanotechnology Is Changing the Ways We May Treat Certain Diseases

By the year 2020, it is estimated that we will have over 6 million workers in nanotechnology industries, says Dr. Amir Farnoud, an Assistant Professor of Chemical, Biomolecular and Biomedical Engineering at the Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University. The development of nanoscience is exploding at such a rate, it is difficult to predict with any accuracy how much and how fast the field will grow in an extremely short period of time, Dr. Farnoud adds. Nanotechnology is the science of examining extremely small things such as atoms and molecules and adjusting them to have certain beneficial characteristics. To give you an example of the tiny nature of a nanometer, if a nanometer was a marble then one meter would be the size of the Earth, Dr. Farnoud noted. Scientific journals also cite that there are 25.4 million nanometers to an inch. Nanoparticles are now used in many products from sunscreens and carpet stain protection to devices delivery lifesaving medications. Nanoparticles are being developed synthetically for everything from mundane commercial applications to highly sophisticated cancer and other disease treatments. Nanoparticles are being developed to not only fight cancer but to detect the presence of cancer within the human body. They also can detect bacteria and identify, with specificity, the types of infections a person may have so that treatments can be more effective and quicker to act. The nanoscale materials can deliver medications with pinpoint accuracy to fight diseases. They also can be quick acting or slower acting – similar to time released over-the-counter medications. This may allow immediate relief and also protect a person on a long term basis, says Dr. Farnoud. Nanoscience and nanotechnology began in 1959 with a lecture by famous physicist Dr. Richard Feynman. Advancements were made in the science in the 1980's but it really has only been expanding, as a discipline and an industry, for the past 20 years. Commercial and medical applications are being rapidly discovered and tested as well as potential for nanoparticle toxicity. Dr. Farnoud feels that he has a personal mission to educate the public about nanotechnology. In addition to his work in the Farnoud Lab at Ohio University, he is planning to launch a national podcast to help people understand both the complexities and the usefulness of nanoscience.

Small Business Administration Reaches Out to Expand Its Reach

Robert Scott is the Regional Administrator of the Great Lakes Region of the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) and he is on a mission. Scott recently toured some of the areas of his region facing some of the greatest economic stagnation to spread the word about some of the benefits of the Small Business Administration. He is responsible for the rustbelt in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He oversees the delivery of the agency's financial assistance, technical assistance and government contracting activities. He met with groups to explain the services that are offered by the SBA and how the average small business owner can benefit from them. Scott says that too often people think the SBA only provides loans but he quickly adds that the SBA can help a fledgling business in all types of technical assistance and consultation. The SBA also attempts to match small businesses with potential government contracts, if possible. Scott is a lawyer from the Dayton area and also serves as a Kettering, Ohio city councilman. He is a small business owner himself. He claims this experience helps him identify issues confronting other small business owners and assists him in providing assistance. He received a "Forty under 40" award from the American Association of Political Consultants in 2016 and the Dayton Business Journal named him one of the city's notable "Forty under 40" professionals in 2015. He most recently served as the Ohio director for the Donald J. Trump for President campaign.

Trump's Presidency: More Complicated than Any Other, Says Reporter

Covering this White House and this President is a 24 hour job, says Gregory Korte, award-winning Washington correspondent for USA Today. He says that this President is more complicated in many ways from any other President in history. In part, Korte claims, because most traditional ways of handling issues and procedures are turned on their head. This President often eschews the analytical approach to problem solving but instead governs "from his gut." He often bypasses staff to make decisions based upon instinct. Korte adds that we should not be surprised since President Trump is exactly the same person and personality as candidate Trump. However, he notes that as President, despite the turmoil and rancor, that Trump is slowly, one by one, keeping his campaign promises. However, Korte expresses some concern that our news coverage of the President is giving the average person news overload. Instead of concentrating on issues, news coverage too often is focused on Trump as the individual. He notes that in the first 100 days of the Trump presidency that 43 percent of the news coverage focused on Trump himself and not on his agenda. Korte posits that the fixation on Trump the man often takes up the space that the ordinary person would use to examine issues and concerns. Trump, himself, has become the "all-encompassing story." This gives Korte some concern. We should note that this interview was recorded in April 2018 but it is still relevant today – perhaps even more so. In 2017, Korte was awarded the Gerald R. Ford Foundation Prize for Distinguished Reporting on the Presidency. He was a nominee in 2014. He also has acted as a visiting professional teaching at the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University – his alma mater.

Putin Gets What He Wants Out of Pres. Trump At Helsinki & Beyond

Russia is trying to elevate its power in Europe and on the world stage and Russia's leader Vladimir Putin is manipulating the United States and other countries in the process, according to professor, author and expert on Russia Dr. Steven Miner. To gain prestige and power, Putin is wanting to split the NATO alliance as well as disrupt and denigrate European and American politics and democracies, says Dr. Miner. Disruption plays into Putin's plans. President Donald Trump gave the appearance of aiding that cause by his recent "bullying tactics" at the NATO Summit in Brussels, supporting an opponent of British Prime Minister Theresa May, and not supporting his own intelligence agencies during a press conference in Helsinki. All of these factors, notes Dr. Miner, assists Putin and his strategy. He describes Putin as a master manipulator of people and situations for Russia's own ends. This is what appears to have happened at the Helsinki Summit and with Russia's interference with the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, Dr. Miner adds. In addition to the Helsinki Summit, Dr. Miner notes Putin's policy was in play with Maria Butina who was recently arrested in Washington, D.C. for being an unregistered Russia agent and for attempting to influence American politics. Dr. Miner further states that Pres. Trump's invitation for Putin to visit the White House this fall gives Putin and Russia additional status and prestige. Trump's verbiage about Russia and his friendliness with Putin belies the fact that Russia directly interceded in America's electoral and democratic processes, Miner adds. Dr. Miner is a professor at Ohio University with a specialty in Russia/Soviet and East European history. He is an award winning author and just completed writing a book called "The Furies Unleashed: The Soviet People at War, 1941-1945. He is a former director of the Contemporary History Institute at Ohio University.

NASA is Reaching Out to Promote and Increase Contracts with Small Businesses

Last year, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) spent nearly $5.5 billion dollars on contracts related to small businesses. Some $2.7 billion or 16.5 percent of total procurements involved direct contracts between small businesses and NASA. Another $2.8 of contracts were subcontracts with small businesses — contracts between small business and large prime contractors servicing NASA. Even though those numbers are impressive, NASA wants to expand its small business contracting even more. NASA officials are traveling across the country to various big and small cities sponsoring programs called "Reaching High – Aerospace Business Matchmaker." The conferences aim to stimulate regional economic growth by trying to match small businesses with either NASA directly or prime contractors doing business with NASA. Glenn Delgado, Associate Administrator of the Office of Small Business Programs at NASA helps coordinate these conferences. He says the conferences give NASA and other groups the opportunity to educate small business owners on some of the requirements and technicalities of doing business with NASA or a NASA prime contractor. On the second day of each conference, he notes, small business owners have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with NASA officials and representatives of prime contractors to see if there is a compatible match. NASA also partners with Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) in a particular geographical area to help sponsor the conferences. Business opportunities are available in providing goods and services in mechanical and electrical engineering, IT infrastructure services, building maintenance, medical services, office supplies and equipment, office administrative services, testing laboratories, apparel, security and a large variety of other industries. For more information, visit http://aerospacematchmaker.com.

NASA is Reaching Out to Promote and Increase Contracts with Small Businesses

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