Show cover of Reveal

Reveal

Reveal’s investigations will inspire, infuriate and inform you. Host Al Letson and an award-winning team of reporters deliver gripping stories about caregivers, advocates for the unhoused, immigrant families, warehouse workers and formerly incarcerated people, fighting to hold the powerful accountable. The New Yorker described Reveal as “a knockout … a pleasure to listen to, even as we seethe.” A winner of multiple Peabody, duPont, Emmy and Murrow awards, Reveal is produced by the nation’s first investigative journalism nonprofit, The Center for Investigative Reporting, and PRX. From unearthing exploitative working conditions to exposing the nation’s racial disparities, there’s always more to the story. Learn more at revealnews.org/learn.

Tracks

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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:45 12/03/2022
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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:36 11/26/2022
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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:36 11/19/2022
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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:28 11/12/2022
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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:42 11/05/2022
The Ballot Boogeymen
In August 2020, Guillermina Fuentes was trying to get out the vote in her small Arizona community. Outside a polling place, she handed a few absentee ballots to another volunteer to drop off. A conservative activist secretly filmed her and reported her to local authorities. In the eyes of the law, she’d just committed a felony.  Dropping off someone else’s mail-in ballot, known as ballot collecting, became a crime in Arizona in 2016, and Fuentes would become the first person prosecuted for it. Reveal reporter Ese Olumhense travels to San Luis to report on Fuentes’ case and finds she has gone from being a well-known local politician in her community to the face of right-wing campaigns against voter fraud.  Fuentes’ arrest and prosecution show the beginnings of an alarming trend shaping the future of how elections are surveilled and policed. Olumhense and Reveal’s Melissa Lewis built a database to track all election-crimes-related bills introduced in the country since the 2020 election. They found a national push to punish what is considered in many states to be typical voting practices. Fueled in part by politicians who falsely claim voter fraud stole the 2020 election from Donald Trump, bills are being introduced that create new election crime investigation agencies, establish criminal penalties for election offenses or empower law enforcement officials to investigate such crimes.  While there was no proof of anything resembling widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, there is one way in which elections are rigged: gerrymandering. Mother Jones senior reporter Ari Berman delves into how Republicans redrew voting maps in Wisconsin, helping them cement control of the state Legislature. Republicans’ strong hold on power has allowed them to keep in place deeply unpopular laws like an abortion ban that dates back to 1849. But this isn’t about just state politics: It’s also about the next election for president in 2024.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:28 10/29/2022
Buried Secrets: America’s Indian Boarding Schools Part 2
In the second half of our two-part collaboration with ICT (formerly Indian Country Today), members of the Pine Ridge community put pressure on the Catholic Church to share information about the boarding school it ran on the reservation.  Listen to part 1 here. ICT reporter Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, visits Red Cloud Indian School, which has launched a truth and healing initiative for former students and their descendants. A youth-led activist group called the International Indigenous Youth Council has created a list of demands that includes financial reparations and the return of tribal land. The group also wants the Catholic Church to open up its records about the school’s past, especially information about children who may have died there.  Pember travels to the archives of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions, which administered boarding schools like Red Cloud. She discovers that many records are redacted or off-limits entirely, but then comes across a nuns’ diary that ends up containing important information. Buried in the diary entries is information about the school’s finances, the massacre at Wounded Knee and children who died at the school more than a century ago.  Pember then returns to Red Cloud and attends the graduation ceremony for the class of 2022. In its early years, the school tried to strip students of their culture, but these days, it teaches the Lakota language and boasts a high graduation rate and rigorous academics. Pember presents what she’s learned about the school’s history to the head of the Jesuit community in western South Dakota and to the school’s president.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram
50:30 10/22/2022
Buried Secrets: America’s Indian Boarding Schools Part 1
In a two-part collaboration with ICT (formerly Indian Country Today), we expose the painful legacy of boarding schools for Native children.   These schools were part of a federal program designed to destroy Native culture and spirituality, with the stated goal to “kill the Indian and save the man.” ICT reporter Mary Annette Pember, a citizen of the Red Cliff Band of Ojibwe, explores the role the Catholic Church played in creating U.S. policy toward Native people and takes us to the Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Under pressure from the community, the school has launched a truth and healing program and is helping to reintroduce traditional culture to its students.  Next, Pember visits 89-year-old boarding school survivor Basil Brave Heart, who was sent to the Red Cloud School in the 1930s. He vividly remembers being traumatized by the experience and says many of his schoolmates suffered for the rest of their lives. We also hear from Dr. Donald Warne from Johns Hopkins University, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota tribe who studies how the trauma of boarding schools is passed down through the generations. We close with what is perhaps the most sensitive part of the Red Cloud School’s search for the truth about its past: the hunt for students who may have died at the school and were buried in unmarked graves. The school has brought in ground-penetrating radar to examine selected parts of the campus, but for some residents, that effort is falling short. They want the entire campus scanned for potential graves.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:16 10/15/2022
The Long Campaign to Turn Birth Control Into the New Abortion
When the Supreme Court’s decision undoing Roe v. Wade came down in June, anti-abortion groups were jubilant – but far from satisfied. Many in the movement have a new target: hormonal birth control. It seems contradictory; doesn’t preventing unwanted pregnancies also prevent abortions? But anti-abortion groups don’t see it that way. They claim that hormonal contraceptives like IUDs and the pill can actually cause abortions. One prominent group making this claim is Students for Life of America, whose president has said she wants contraceptives like IUDs and birth control pills to be illegal. The fast-growing group has built a social media campaign spreading the false idea that hormonal birth control is an abortifacient. Reveal’s Amy Mostafa teams up with UC Berkeley journalism and law students to dig into the world of young anti-abortion influencers and how medical misinformation gains traction on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, with far-reaching consequences. Tens of millions of Americans use hormonal contraceptives to prevent pregnancy and regulate their health. And many have well-founded complaints about side effects, from nausea to depression – not to mention well-justified anger about how the medical establishment often pooh-poohs those concerns. Anti-abortion and religious activists have jumped into the fray, urging people to reject hormonal birth control as “toxic” and promoting non-hormonal “fertility awareness” methods – a movement they’re trying to rebrand as “green sex.” Mother Jones Senior Editor Kiera Butler explains how secular wellness influencers such as Jolene Brighten, who sells a $300 birth control “hormone reset,” are having their messages adopted by anti-abortion influencers, many of them with deep ties to Catholic institutions. The end of Roe triggered a Missouri law that immediately banned almost all abortions. Many were shocked when a major health care provider in the state announced it would also no longer offer emergency contraception pills – Plan B – because of a false belief that it could cause an abortion. While the health system soon reversed its policy, it wasn’t the first time Missouri policymakers have been roiled by the myth that emergency contraception can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting and cause an abortion. Reveal senior reporter and producer Katharine Mieszkowski tracks how lawmakers in the state have been confronting this misinformation campaign and looks to the future of how conservatives are aiming to use birth control as their new wedge issue. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:59 10/08/2022
Minor League Pay
From the Frisco RoughRiders to the Dayton Dragons, minor league baseball teams are a classic American tradition. But their players are not covered by some classic American laws: Players can earn less than the equivalent of minimum wage and don’t get paid overtime. We explore how that’s even possible with the podcast The Uncertain Hour from our colleagues at Marketplace. This season, they’re looking at how certain companies – and whole industries – maneuver around basic worker protections. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:34 10/01/2022
After Ayotzinapa: Arrests and Intrigue
Eight months after Reveal’s three-part series about the disappearance of 43 Mexican college students in 2014, the government’s investigation is in high gear. But parents of the missing still don’t have the answers they want. There have been arrests and indictments of high-profile members of the military, and even the country’s former attorney general. But no one has been convicted, and the remains of only a handful of students have been identified.  In the first segment, we relive the night of the attack on the students, and chronicle the previous government’s flawed investigation into the crime. We meet independent investigators who succeeded in getting close to the truth, then fled the country for their safety.  Then we explore how the election of a new Mexican government led to a new investigation led by Omag Gomez Trejo, a young lawyer who pledged to expose the truth about the crime.  We end with a conversation with Reveal’s Anayansi Diaz Cortes and Kate Doyle, from the National Security Archive. They bring us up to date on what’s happened with the investigation since we aired our three-part series, After Ayotzinapa.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:58 09/24/2022
Locked Up: The Prison Labor That Built Business Empires
After the Civil War, a new form of slavery took hold in the US and lasted more than 60 years. Associated Press reporters Margie Mason and Robin McDowell investigate the chilling history of how Southern states imprisoned mainly Black men, often for minor crimes, and then leased them out to private companies – for years, even decades, at a time. The team talks with the descendant of a man imprisoned in the Lone Rock stockade in Tennessee nearly 140 years ago, where people as young as 12 worked under subhuman conditions in coal mines and inferno-like ovens used to produce iron. This system of forced prison labor enriched the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad company – at the cost of prisoners’ lives.  At the state park that sits on the former site of the Lone Rock stockade, relics from the hellish prison are buried beneath the soil. Archeologist Camille Westmont has found thousands of artifacts, such as utensils and the plates prisoners ate off. She has also created a database listing the names of those sent to Lone Rock. A team of volunteers are helping her, including a woman reckoning with her own ancestor’s involvement in this corrupt system and the wealth her family benefited from.    The United States Steel Corporation helped build bridges, railroads and towering skyscrapers across America. But the company also relied on forced prison labor. After U.S. Steel took over Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad in 1907, the industrial giant used prison labor for at least five years. During that time, more than 100 men died while working in their massive coal mining operation in Alabama. U.S. Steel has misrepresented this dark chapter of its history. And it has never apologized for its use of forced labor or the lives lost.The reporters push the company to answer questions about its past and engage with communities near the former mines.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:41 09/17/2022
The Big Grift Behind the Big Lie
This episode explores two stories of fights over the right to vote.  Texas-based nonprofit True the Vote claims to have evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election—an idea Trump loudly echoes as part of “the big lie.” But True the Vote has never shown any proof. The lack of evidence hasn’t stopped the group from netting millions of dollars in donations. As reporter Cassandra Jaramillo explains, True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht and board member Gregg Phillips took home hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal loans and payments to companies they’re associated with. Despite this grift, True the Vote’s influence is still expanding. The group provided “research” for a new film called 2000 Mules that promises to expose widespread voter fraud—with no evidence to back it up.  The big lie sparked the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, an event that is now part of the nation’s election history. But this was not the first time that a violent mob tried to challenge election results. In 1898, a group of armed white supremacists carried out a coup in Wilmington, North Carolina, and seized power from legally elected Black leaders. The Wilmington coup created a blueprint for taking voting rights away from people of color—a legacy of voter suppression that the country is still grappling with today. Host Al Letson pieces together the story with help from the grandson of a prominent member of the Black community in Wilmington.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us onTwitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:18 09/10/2022
American Rehab: Shadow Workforce
Picture stepping into a drug rehab. You’re looking for treatment, but instead, you get hard work for no pay. For decades, this type of rehab has quietly spread across the country. How are rehabs allowed to do this?  Some organizations argue that participants can work without pay as long as they’re provided with housing and treatment. This issue was raised by a cultish organization that recruited dropouts from the hippie movement and had them sew bedazzled designer jean jackets. The clothes became a Hollywood fashion trend, and the unpaid labor propelled a case all the way to the Supreme Court.  The federal government doesn’t track work-based rehabs, so reporter Shoshana Walter spent a year counting them herself. She learned that work-based rehabs are present across the entire country. And the coronavirus pandemic has made the opioid epidemic even more deadly. As one crisis slams into another, we look at how work-based rehabs are turning participants into unpaid essential workers.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram
50:22 09/03/2022
American Rehab: A Venomous Snake
By the end of the 1960s, Synanon was a widely respected drug rehab with a celebrated treatment program. It had intake centers and commune-style rehabs all over the country.  It subsisted by turning members into unpaid workers who hustled donations and ran Synanon businesses. As the money poured in, Synanon’s founder, Charles Dederich, transitioned the group from a rehab into an “experimental society.”   Dederich instituted a series of increasingly authoritarian rules on members: He banned sugar, dissolved marriages, separated children from their parents and forced vasectomies. Synanon ultimately became a religion, with Dederich as its violent and vengeful leader. Synanon descended into madness. But before it crumbled, the group inspired an entire generation of rehabs. By one researcher’s count in the 1970s, there were 500 programs in the United States stemming from Synanon. Many of those rehabs still exist today, including Cenikor.  This is a rebroadcast of an episode that was originally aired in 2020.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:45 08/27/2022
American Rehab: A Desperate Call
Reporter Shoshana Walter gets a message from a stranger: Penny Rawlings has just read one of Walter’s stories about Cenikor, a drug rehab with a facility in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rawlings is desperate to learn more because her brother Tim Roe is a participant there. Rawlings helped send him to Cenikor — but didn’t realize getting him out of treatment was going to be the bigger problem. Cenikor’s model has its roots in Synanon: a revolutionary, first-of-its-kind rehab that started in the 1950s on a California beach. Its charismatic leader, Charles Dederich, mesmerized the nation by claiming to have developed a cure for drug addiction. But as it spread across the country, Dederich wanted the rehab to turn into something else: a business. This is the first episode in our series American Rehab, which we first broadcast in 2020. Listen to the whole series here. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:38 08/20/2022
Afghanistan's Recognition Problem
There isn’t a single country in the world that recognizes the Taliban as a legitimate government. And neither do many Afghans. One year after the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan, reporter Najib Aminy checks back in with a teacher from Kabul named Aysha, who fled to the U.K. She was one of the 120,000 people airlifted out of the country as the Taliban took control. Like many other Afghan refugees, she’s frustrated that the Taliban’s leadership has resulted in having to leave her home country behind. While the Biden administration has claimed to welcome refugees from both Afghanistan and Ukraine, the process for people fleeing the two countries has been unequal. To gain temporary entry to the United States, more than 66,000 Afghans applied through a process called humanitarian parole. But the hurdles for Afghans are huge, including monthslong wait times, piles of paperwork and a steep cost ($575 per person). In contrast, after Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States created a special humanitarian parole process for Ukrainians caught in the conflict – it can be filed online and has no application fee. Government records reveal that only 123 Afghan humanitarian parole applicants have been approved, compared with 68,000 Ukrainian applicants. Guest host Ike Sriskandarajah and Aminy then head to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, where $7 billion in assets belonging to Afghanistan has sat frozen since the Taliban took control of the country last year. Aminy talks with Shah Mehrabi, an economist who sits on the governing board of the Afghan central bank, who says that without access to those assets, the country’s economy is headed toward collapse. The Biden administration is in a complicated position as it considers whether to release the money – and how to do it without aiding the Taliban. Obaidullah Baheer is a lecturer at the American University of Afghanistan who is trying to bring the Taliban and its critics together to chart a future for the country. For Baheer, Afghan politics is personal – his grandfather served as prime minister of the country and is accused of committing war crimes that killed thousands of civilians. With that weight of personal history, Baheer is organizing Afghans to figure out how to resolve the conflicts at the heart of the country today. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:02 08/13/2022
My Neighbor, the Suspected War Criminal
In July, a popular uprising in Sri Lanka forced the country’s president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, to step down and flee the country. Rajapaksa is accused of carrying out massive atrocities more than a decade ago.  Reveal reporter and host Ike Sriskandarajah looks into why powerful people suspected of committing war crimes often walk free. Sriskandarajah spent six months investigating the U.S. government's failure to charge accused perpetrators of the worst crimes in the world. The federal government says it is pursuing leads and cases against nearly 1700 alleged human rights violators and war criminals. Victims of international atrocities sometimes even describe running into them at their local coffee shop or in line at Walgreens.   After the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, families seeking accountability for state-sanctioned violence filed a suit against a man they say is a war criminal. A private eye was tasked with hunting down Gota, Sri Lanka’s former defense minister. The P.I.  found the alleged war criminal in Southern California, shopping at Trader Joe’s.  At the close of World War II, dozens of former Nazi leaders came to the United States. After decades of inaction, in 1979, President Jimmy Carter created a special unit within the Department of Justice dedicated to hunting down Nazi war criminals. Decades after passing the first substantive human rights statutes that make it possible to prosecute war criminals for crimes like torture and genocide, the U.S. has successfully prosecuted only one person under the laws. Sriskandrajah talks to experts about why prosecutors often take an “Al Capone” strategy to going after war criminals, pursuing them on lesser charges like immigration violations rather than human rights abuses.  With little action from the government to prosecute war criminals, victims of violence are instead using civil lawsuits to try to seek accountability. Lawyers at the Center for Justice & Accountability have brought two dozen cases against alleged war criminals and human rights violators – and never lost at trial. But when the lawyers share their evidence with the federal government, it often feels like the information disappears into a black box.  This is a rebroadcast of an episode originally released on April 22, 2022.
50:47 08/06/2022
No Retreat: The Dangers of Stand Your Ground
The killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012 marked the beginning of a new chapter of the struggle for civil rights in America. A mostly White jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the teen’s murder, in part because Florida’s stand your ground law permits a person to use deadly force in self-defense – even if that person could have safely retreated. Nationwide protests after the trial called for stand your ground laws to be repealed and reformed. But instead, stand your ground laws have expanded to 38 states.  Reveal reporter Jonathan Jones talks with Byron Castillo, a maintenance worker in North Carolina who was shot in the chest after mistakenly trying to get into the wrong apartment for a repair. While Castillo wound up out of work and deep in debt, police and prosecutors declined to pursue charges against the shooter, who said he was afraid someone was trying to break into his apartment. Researchers have found that states that enacted stand your ground laws have seen an increase in homicides – one study estimated that roughly 700 more people die in the U.S. every year because of stand your ground laws.  Opponents of stand your ground laws call them by a different name: “kill at will” laws. Jones speaks to lawmakers like Stephanie Howse, who fought against stand your ground legislation as an Ohio state representative, saying such laws put Black people's lives at risk. Howse and other Democratic lawmakers faced off against Republican politicians, backed by pro-gun lobbyists, intent on passing a stand your ground bill despite widespread opposition from civil rights groups and law enforcement. Modern-day stand your ground laws started in Florida. Reveal reporter Nadia Hamdan explores a 2011 road rage incident that wound up leading to an expansion of the law. She looks at how one case led Florida lawmakers, backed by the National Rifle Association, to enact a law that spells out that prosecutors, not defendants, have the burden of proof when claiming someone was not acting in self-defense when committing an act of violence against another individual.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:32 07/30/2022
Inside the Global Fight for White Power
From Russia to Sweden and the United States, there’s a growing network of White nationalist groups that stretches around the world. The reporting team at Verified: The Next Threat investigates how these militant groups are helping each other create propaganda, recruit new members and share paramilitary skills. We start with a group called the Russian Imperial Movement, or RIM. Its members are taking up arms in Russia’s war against Ukraine, which they say is a battle in a much larger “holy war” for White power. Newsy senior investigative reporter Mark Greenblatt interviews a leader of the group who says RIM’s goal is to unite White nationalists around the world. The group even runs training camps where White supremacists from around the world can learn paramilitary tactics. Russia’s White nationalists are making connections with extremists in the United States. Greenblatt talks with a neo-Nazi named Matt Heimbach, who was a major promoter of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Soon after Charlottesville, Heimbach invited members of RIM to the U.S. and connected them to his network of American White power extremists. We end with a visit by Greenblatt to the State Department in Washington, where he interviews two top counterterrorism officials. They say they’re aware of the growing international network of White supremacists, but explain that White power groups are now forming political parties, which makes it more difficult for the agency to use its most powerful counterterrorism tools. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:18 07/23/2022
All the President’s Pardons
When he was president, Donald Trump used the pardon power to help friends and political allies. Now we’ve learned from the Jan. 6 committee hearings that members of his inner circle asked for pardons to shield themselves from prosecution, before they were even charged with a crime. But what about the people who applied for pardons through the official process and are still waiting for answers? We go beyond the headlines and tell the story of a pardons system that’s completely broken down.  We begin our show by looking at the rarest of pardons: when the person receiving a pardon is the president. When in office, Trump tweeted that he had the authority to pardon himself, a concept that first was discussed during the Nixon administration. In that case, former President Richard Nixon eventually was pardoned by the next president, Gerald Ford. In this story, we hear some rare archival tape in which Ford explains in his own words why he decided to pardon his predecessor. In the next story, we look at the case of Charles “Duke” Tanner, a boxer who was sentenced to life in federal prison after being convicted of drug trafficking. His arrest came during the war on drugs, which started in the 1980s, disproportionately putting tens of thousands of Black men in prison for decades. Tanner applied for clemency twice; his application was just one among 13,000 others waiting for a decision at the federal Office of the Pardon Attorney when this show first aired in 2019. That number has grown to nearly 17,000 as of today. We end with a heartwarming update in the Tanner story. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:50 07/16/2022
Can Our Climate Survive Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a novel form of currency that bypasses banks, credit card companies and governments. But as Elizabeth Shogren reports, the process of creating bitcoin is extremely energy intensive, and it’s setting back efforts to address climate change. Already, bitcoin has used enough power to erase all the energy savings from electric cars, according to one study. Still, towns across the United States are scrambling to attract bitcoin-mining operations by selling them power at a deep discount.  Bitcoin’s demand for electricity is so great that it’s giving new life to the dirtiest type of power plants: ones that burn coal. In Hardin, Montana, the coal-fired power plant was on the verge of shutting down until bitcoin came to town. The coal that fuels the bitcoin operation is owned by the Crow Nation, so some of the tribe’s leaders support it. But in just one year, the amount of carbon dioxide the plant puts into the air jumped nearly tenfold. After our story first aired, the company that owns the computers that mine bitcoin in Hardin announced that it would move them to a cleaner source of power. The generating station is negotiating with other companies to take its place.  Bitcoin’s huge carbon footprint has people asking whether  cryptocurrency can go green. Bitcoin advocates say it can switch to renewable energy. Others are instead developing entirely new types of cryptocurrency that are less energy hungry. Guest host Shereen Marisol Meraji talks with Ludwig Siegele, technology editor at The Economist, who gives his assessment of the challenges of making cryptocurrency environmentally friendly.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow  Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
51:09 07/09/2022
Lost in Transplantation
Quickly delivering donated organs to patients waiting for a transplant is a matter of life and death. Yet transportation errors are leading to delays in surgeries, putting patients in danger and making some organs unusable. This week, we look at weaknesses in the nation’s system for transporting organs and solutions for making it work better.  More than any other organ, donated kidneys are put on commercial flights so they can get to waiting patients. In collaboration with Kaiser Health News, we look at the system for transporting kidneys and how a lack of tracking and accountability can result in waylaid or misplaced kidneys. We then look at the broader issues affecting organ procurement in the U.S. with Jennifer Erickson, who worked at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama administration. She says one of the system’s weaknesses is that not enough organs are recovered from deceased people – not nearly as many as there could be. We end with an audio postcard about honor walks, a new ritual that hospitals are adopting to honor the gift of life that dying people are giving to patients who will receive their organs. We follow the story of one young man who was killed in a car accident. This episode originally was broadcast Feb. 8, 2020.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:21 07/02/2022
The Religious Right Mobilized to End Roe. Now What?
Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that gave women in the U.S. the legal right to an abortion, has now been officially overturned. The Supreme Court rarely reverses itself. The ruling means states can set their own laws around abortion. Many plan to ban it outright. How did we get to this point?  For decades, mostly White Evangelicals and Catholics joined forces to put political pressure on Republicans to oppose abortion access – which has serious implications for communities of color. Reporter Anayansi Diaz-Cortes talks with Jennifer Holland, a history professor and author of the book “Tiny You: A Western History of the Anti-Abortion Movement,” and Khiara Bridges, a reproductive justice scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, about the racial dynamics of the fight over abortion.  Most abortions now happen with pills rather than a surgical procedure at a clinic. The ability to get the pills via mail and telehealth appointments has helped expand access to abortions. Now, religious anti-abortion activists are promoting the unproven idea that medication abortions can be reversed. Reporters Amy Littlefield and Sofia Resnick investigate the science and history of this controversial treatment called abortion pill reversal. But there’s another religious voice that often gets drowned out by the anti-abortion movement. Reveal's Grace Oldham visits the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, which back in the late ’60s was part of a national hotline for people seeking an abortion. Callers could be connected with clergy members who would counsel them and give a referral to a trusted doctor who would safely perform abortions. We hear how the church is continuing its legacy of supporting abortion access today, helping people in Texas who want abortions get them out of state. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
51:23 06/25/2022
Abortion in the Crosshairs
Dr. Barnett Slepian was a conservative doctor and family man with strong religious beliefs. But he didn’t think doctors should pick and choose which services to provide, so he performed abortions at a clinic in Buffalo, New York. The anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue made him a target, harassing him and calling him a “murderer” at his home in Amherst, New York, as well as at his private practice and the Buffalo clinic. In 1998, Slepian was the victim of a sniper attack.  In this episode, in partnership with the CBC podcast “Someone Knows Something,” reporters David Ridgen and Amanda Robb – Slepian’s niece – look into the network of anti-abortion extremists who targeted doctors and clinics in the 1990s.    Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:27 06/18/2022
Baseball Strikes Out
In the early 2000s, rampant steroid use across Major League Baseball became the biggest scandal in the sport’s history. But fans didn’t want to hear the difficult truth about their heroes – and the league didn’t want to intervene and clean up a mess it helped make. We look back at how the scandal unraveled with our colleagues from the podcast Crushed from Religion of Sports and PRX. Their show revisits the steroid era to untangle its truth from the many myths, examine the legacy of baseball’s so-called steroid era and explore what it tells us about sports culture in America. We start during the 1998 MLB season, when the home run race was on. Superstar sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to set a new single-season record, and McGwire, the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman, was portrayed as the hero baseball needed: part humble, wholesome, working man and part action hero, with his brawny build and enormous biceps. So when a reporter spotted a suspicious bottle of pills in his locker in the middle of the season, most fans plugged their ears and refused to acknowledge that baseball might be hooked on steroids. Joan Niesen, a sportswriter and host of the podcast Crushed, takes us on a deep dive into an era that dethroned a generation of superstars, left fans disillusioned and turned baseball’s record book on its head. The story takes us from ballparks and clubhouses to the halls of Congress to explain how baseball was finally forced to reckon with its drug problem. This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired in July 2021.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us onTwitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:38 06/11/2022
Fighting Fire with Fire
Year after year, wildfires have swept through Northern California’s wine and dairy country, threatening the region’s famed agricultural businesses. . Evacuation orders have become a way of life in places like Sonoma County, and so too have exemptions to those orders. Officials in the county created a special program allowing agricultural employers to bring farmworkers into areas that are under evacuation and keep them working, even as wildfires rage. It’s generally known as the ag pass program. Reporter Teresa Cotsirilos investigates whether the policy puts low-wage farmworkers at risk from smoke and flames. This story is a partnership with the nonprofit newsroom the Food & Environment Reporting Network and the podcast and radio show World Affairs. Then KQED’s Danielle Venton introduces us to Bill Tripp, a member of the Karuk Tribe. Tripp grew up along the Klamath River, where his great-grandmother taught him how controlled burns could make the land more productive and protect villages from dangerous fires. But in the 1800s, authorities outlawed traditional burning practices. Today, the impact of that policy is clear: The land is overgrown, and there has been a major fire in the region every year for the past decade, including one that destroyed half the homes in the Karuk’s largest town, Happy Camp, and killed two people. Tripp has spent 30 years trying to restore “good fire” to the region but has faced resistance from the U.S. Forest Service and others. Twelve years ago, the Forest Service officially changed its policy to expand the use of prescribed burns, one of the most effective tools to mitigate massive, deadly wildfires. But Reveal’s Elizabeth Shogren reports that even though the agency committed to doing controlled burns, it hasn’t actually increased how much fire it’s using to fight fire. The Forest Service also has been slow to embrace another kind of good fire that experts say the West desperately needs: managed wildfires, in which fires are allowed to burn in a controlled manner to reduce overgrowth. To protect the future of the land and people – especially with climate change making forests drier and hotter – the Forest Service needs to embrace the idea of good fire.   This is a rebroadcast of an episode that originally aired in September 2021.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/weekly  Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram
50:39 06/04/2022
Shooting in the Dark: Why Gun Reform Keeps Failing
As the nation reels from the recent mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, we look at why efforts to enact comprehensive laws to reduce gun violence are failing.  Reveal’s Najib Aminy tells the story of a former lobbyist for the NRA, who explains how another school shooting years ago polarized the political debate about guns and all but eliminated the chances for compromise. Then, host Al Letson speaks with reporter Alain Stephens from The Trace. Stephens has been tracking how technology is making guns more lethal and says one of the most troubling inventions is something called an auto sear. These tiny devices can turn pistols and rifles into machine guns. He also brings us up to date on his effort to force the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to share data about police guns that end up being used in crimes. Reveal sued the ATF on his behalf, and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently came down with a decision.   We end with a discussion with Reveal’s Jennifer Gollan, who last fall completed a groundbreaking investigation about homicides by intimate partners convicted of domestic abuse. Her reporting led to a rare moment of consensus on Capitol Hill and new provisions in the recently reauthorized Violence Against Women Act.  Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter,Facebook and Instagram
51:55 05/28/2022
‘Traitors Get Shot’
On Jan. 6, 2021, Jackson Reffitt watched the Capitol riot play out on TV from his family home in Texas. His father, Guy, had a much closer view. He was in Washington, armed with a semiautomatic handgun, storming the building.  When Guy Reffitt returned home, Jackson secretly taped him and turned the recordings over to the FBI. His father bragged about what he did, saying: “I had every constitutional right to carry a weapon and take over the Congress.” Guy Reffitt was the first person to stand trial for his role in the riot, and the case has divided his family.  This week, Reveal features the story of the Reffitt family by partnering with the podcast Will Be Wild from Pineapple Street Studios, Wondery and Amazon Music. Hosted by Andrea Bernstein and Ilya Marritz, Will Be Wild’s eight-part series investigates the forces that led to the Jan. 6 insurrection and what comes next. Support Reveal’s journalism at Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us onTwitter,Facebook andInstagram
50:34 05/21/2022
A Reckoning at Amazon
The past few years have brought profits and growth to Amazon, but it’s come at a cost to many workers. Amazon warehouse employees are injured on the job at a higher rate than at other companies, even as the company has claimed to prioritize safety. 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 focused national attention on the company’s safety record, prompting regulators, lawmakers and the company itself to address the issue more closely. Then, we bring back a story by Reveal’s Jennifer Gollan that looks at the most common type of injury at Amazon and other workplaces and why the government chose not to try to prevent it. 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 Revealnews.org/donatenow Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to get the scoop on new episodes at Revealnews.org/newsletter Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
50:47 05/14/2022