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FROM THIS EPISODE

Yesterday, California Gov. Jerry Brown introduced a $177 million plan to test and clean up the areas contaminated by the Exide battery recycling plant. What’s going on with residents in those areas in the meantime?

Then, Apple continues to fight an order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists. We get an update on that and other Internet-related news in our weekly web segment.

Next, two entertainment business stories: First, the hiring of Channing Dungey at ABC, the first African-American to run one of the “big four” TV networks.

Second, the Academy is taking legal action to separate itself from Oscars “swag bags” put together by an outside marketing company.

And finally, Pope Francis just wrapped up a six-day trip to Cuba and Mexico. What has he said about birth control and abortion given the danger of the Zika virus in those countries?

Image: Protesters gather at the Exide battery recycling plant in Vernon in 2014.

Producers:
Matt Holzman
Anna Scott
Jolie Myers
Christian Bordal
Laura Swisher

Exide Cleanup 14 MIN, 32 SEC

Gov. Jerry Brown introduced a $177 million plan yesterday to test and clean up the areas contaminated by the Exide battery recycling plant. This comes almost one year since Exide Technologies shuttered its Vernon facility to avoid criminal charges for illegally handling toxic materials. For decades, the plant operated without a formal permit, melting down used car batteries. Exide polluted the air and the soil underneath the plant and in surrounding neighborhoods with lead and other toxic materials. Yet testing and cleanup efforts have been very, very slow. Thousands of angry, fearful residents have been waiting for their homes to be tested, or for yards with confirmed high levels of contamination to be cleaned up. We hear from one such resident whose yard contains very high levels of lead contamination, as well as a reporter covering the story.

Guests:
Nancy Martinez, Eastern Group Publications (@nancyreporting)
Terry Gonzalez Cano, Resident

Web Roundup: Apple and More 9 MIN, 14 SEC

A heated debate continues over whether Apple should unlock one of its phones to aid the feds in the San Bernardino attack investigation. We discuss that and other news of the digital world in our regular Thursday Web roundup.

Guests:
Xeni Jardin, BoingBoing.net (@xeni)

Channing Dungey 7 MIN, 40 SEC

Channing Dungey has just been named president of ABC Entertainment Group, becoming the first African-American to run one of the “Big Four” TV networks, and home of shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and Blackish. What’s Dungey’s background, and how much of a role will she have in shaping the network going forward?

Guests:
Michael Schneider, Indiewire / Variety (@Franklinavenue)

An Oscars Swag Bag Lawsuit 8 MIN, 57 SEC

The Oscars are coming up at the end of this month. For nominees that means interviews, photo shoots and swag. Oscars gift bags are famously lavish, and the Academy says they’ve gotten so over-the-top, the Academy is now suing the company that puts them together. Basically, the Academy wants nothing to do with them.


Photo by BDS2006

Guests:
Kyle Buchanan, Editor (@kylebuchanan)

The Pope and Contraceptives 8 MIN, 40 SEC

Pope Francis just wrapped up a six-day trip to Cuba and Mexico. The Zika virus wasn’t on his agenda, but on his flight back to the Vatican last night, he was asked whether church teaching on abortion and contraception could be loosened to help stop the spread of the virus to babies. Zika is thought to cause microcephaly, a birth defect that results in shrunken heads and brains in infants. It’s been spreading through Latin America, which is heavily Catholic, and the church’s teaching on abortion and contraception is very strict. How is religion clashing with medical science?


Photo by Alfredo Borba

Guests:
Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches (@sarahposner)

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