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Moyers & Company Joins the WFPL News Lineup

Bill Moyers is back on-air, and he’s on WFPL. Moyers & Company is a weekly series the veteran journalist says will try to make sense of our tumultuous times, “for myself and hopefully for anyone who wants to keep me company.”

The new series began with three broadcasts exploring inequality in America. Last week, we aired that series at 1pm on WFPL. It featured a conversation with two noted political scientists, Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson, authors of “Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer–and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.”

The following two shows continued an exploration of the seminal decisions over the past 30 years that led to today’s great economic disparities. Moyers talked with David Stockman who, as Ronald Reagan’s powerful and controversial budget director, was “taken to the woodshed” for telling the truth about the administration’s tax policies. And Moyers spoke with former Citigroup Chairman John Reed, now chairman of the board of MIT, and former Senator Byron Dorgan, to explore how the mid-90’s merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group brought down a crucial firewall between banks and investment firms — the Glass-Steagall Act, which had protected consumers from financial calamity since the aftermath of the Great Depression.

Over succeeding weeks, Moyers & Company will continue to explore some of the defining issues of the day, including relevant insight from novelists, poets, and artists, scientists and philosophers, and leading scholars. Among those scheduled to appear are former Poet Laureate of the United States Rita Dove, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt on the moral values that influence our political choices; and the influential editor of Poetry Magazine, Christian Wiman, on faith, doubt, and suffering.

The broadcast will also feature regular political analysis from many of the people Moyers has called on over the years to interpret life in America, as well as new voices in the dialogue of democracy.

We’re excited to be able to air sharp, in-depth discussions like these on WFPL. Moyers & Company debuts February 13 and will air Mondays at 9pm. A note for fans of Smiley & West: the show continues to air in its principle timeslot: Saturdays at 8pm.

Click here for the WFPL schedule.

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Environment Local News

Kentucky Environmental Foundation Hopes to Spur EPA Decisions

The Kentucky Environmental Foundation is hoping to encourage the Environmental Protection Agency to rule on issues related to air quality in Kentucky.

The EPA has missed its deadline to approve or reject state implementation program proposals. The proposals outline how various regions in the commonwealth will reduce particulate pollution released by power plants, cars and other sources. KEF director Elizabeth Crowe says by missing deadlines, the EPA has allowed the air to remain polluted, and her organization has filed a notice of intent to sue the EPA over the issue.

“That is just a way to, in this case, let the EPA know that we’re watching and that we want them to go ahead and take this action,” she says.  

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Local News

Council Tables 15-Year Insight Agreement Renewal

The agreement that regulates how Insight Cable operates in Louisville will get another review by the Metro Council.

A council committee unanimously approved Insight’s franchise agreement last week. The full council, however, sent the agreement back to the committee Thursday due to some questions about the company’s operations.

Specifically, the council will look at why Insight waited until this month to pay more than five million dollars for taxes owed in 2009. Insight contends that the bill was late, but majority caucus spokesperson Tony Hyatt says more review may be necessary.

“There have been some members of the caucus who have been concerned that there is not enough monitoring of Insight in the light of what we’ve been finding out there in the last week or so,” he says.

Also at question is whether Insight has been open enough with the city. Hyatt says council members will review how well the cable provider has followed recommendations from a previous audit.

“This is going to be more of a situation where the committee looks at what it would like to see as far as any type of annual report or update coming from Insight, because the auditors in 2006 had recommended Insight needed to do an annual report on various areas of its operations.”

While the council may require Insight to report more frequently to the city, it’s not clear whether the body will impose more regulation on rates or services. Hyatt says cities often don’t strongly regulate cable providers.

“As the cable industry and communications in general have been deregulated over the years, the Public Service commission handles an awful lot now, the federal government with the FCC handles a lot now,” he says.

The committee that will review the document will likely meet once more this year.

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Local News

Yarmuth Praises Financial Regulation Progress

by Gabe Bullard

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth is praising legislative progress on financial regulation.

A joint committee of House and Senate members approved a regulatory overhaul Friday, and it could clear both chambers next week.

Yarmuth says one of the key parts of the bill is the creation of a consumer protection bureau in the Federal Reserve.

“This is the agencies whose primary function will be to make sure that financial products that are offered to the public are offered in a clear and easy-to-understand manner so a lot of the deceptive practices that have plagued consumers won’t be there,” he says.

Yarmuth says he thinks the legislation addresses most of the causes of the 2008 financial meltdown, but he wishes the bill went further to limit risky proprietary trading within banks.

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Local News

State to Make Own Mercury Emissions Rules

It’s not safe to eat too much of the fish in any Kentucky stream or river because they have high levels of mercury.   It comes from power plants throughout the region.  In Kentucky, more than 3000 tons of mercury settle back to earth each year.  State Air Quality head John Lyons says that because a federal rule to curb mercury emissions was vacated by the courts, Kentucky plans to author its own regulation. 

“Kentucky had adopted that rule to move forward with mercury reductions at power plants.  But given that rule has been vacated and likely will remain so, and in the absence of any other federal rule and the uncertainty of that, we’re moving forward with developing our own rules here in the state,” Lyons says.

No power plant in Kentucky currently has mercury emission controls.  So Lyons says the state will be researching how to create a program from the ground up.  Preliminary guidelines could be in place by mid-2009.