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Protest and march on Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant; photo by Robbie

The Top Left Corner — 2021/03/17

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Hey, Greylock Nation —

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! We’re delighted to be broadcasting this morning to all of our live listeners out there in Greylock Nation on the luckiest day of the year.

Our commonwealth’s fair capital, Boston, is often heralded as the largest Irish city west of Dublin. As a couple of Massachusetts rabble-rousers, your hosts are proud to be inspired by and carry on the tradition of refusing to sit down, shut up, and accept an unacceptable status quo that was so courageously exemplified by the Irish Rebellion.

The Irish Free State was declared on December 6, 1922. After centuries of oppression, Ireland finally severed formal ties to its English colonizers with the Republic of Ireland Act in 1949. That piece of legislation, among other things, permanently ditched the British Monarchy as having any role in Irish affairs.

If you’re here for the first time, the Top Left Corner is a locally focused weekly live internet radio show and podcast based in Williamstown, Mass. We do our best to wade through the spin and biases and cowardice and bring back the important stuff that most of us really care about. Every Wednesday, we’re going to tell you what we think about local current events and the national stories that directly affect the people of Williamston and Berkshire County. We also interview amazing guests.

–Jay and Steve

P.S. We want to hear from you! Participate live during the show by using the chat box on our show page or email us at [email protected]

OUR GUEST THIS WEEK

Robbie Leppzer; Skype screenshot by Jason Velázquez.

Robbie Leppzer is a lifelong filmmaker whose most recent film, Power Struggle, documents the 40 year-long grassroots effort to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt.

Leppzer joined us for a wide-ranging interview about his latest film, the amazing series of events he chronicles, and the astounding courage and persistence of the grassroots activists he profiles.

Leppzer’s film will be featured at Images Cinema in Williamstown for two weeks starting on Friday, March 19.

As the world marks the 10th anniversary of the triple meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan, this nuclear disaster had a profound effect in the small state of Vermont, as it occurred in the midst of a years-long citizens’ campaign to close down an aging nuclear power plant located on the banks of the Connecticut River in southern Vermont.

Filmed over five years by director Robbie Leppzer,Power Struggleportrays a heated political battle to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The film follows the unfolding drama as citizen activists and elected state officials—alarmed at increasing safety violations—take on the federal government and one of the biggest power companies in the U.S. to achieve a rare grassroots environmental victory.

LIGHT (OR NOT)

Yo-Yo Ma’s visit to the Berkshire Community College vaccine clinic to get his COVID shot was positively cello-rrific.
Those of us who live in the beautiful Berkshires year-round sometimes forget that our county is also home to a ton of world-class talent–in literature, scholarship, design and the visual arts, and, of course, music.

LOCAL

If you’re eligible to be vaccinated in Massachusetts (we’re currently in Phase 2), the easiest way to get an appointment is by following @vaccinetime on Twitter and turning on notifications. When you get a notification that there are appointments available in your area, just click on the link provided to begin the sing-up process.
The scandal at the Williamstown Police Department has taken some interesting turns since our last show.

On Friday, March 12, Josh Landes of WAMC broke the blockbuster story of Williamstown Police Department employees using a database called CJIS (SEE-jus) to conduct illegal background checks on local critics of the department.
Knives seem to be out for WPD whistleblower Scott McGowan. Over the past 10 days, Sgt. McGowan, the plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Town Manager Jason Hoch and WPD chief Kyle Johnson in 2020, was placed on administrative leave by Hoch in the wake of a complaint supported by other police officers in the department.

Listening session announced: https://williamstownma.gov/calendar/

On Tuesday, March 16, Larry Parnass at the Berkshire Eagle reported that Sgt. McGowan had been involved in an incident from 2005 where he assaulted a Williams College student and then falsified official records to conceal his role.

THE COMMONWEALTH

The Massachusetts Department of Education is requiring middle schools to reopen by April 28. What seems to be consistently lost in these public proclamations about how we’re “getting back to normal” is that COVID-19 is primarily spread via aerosols. Ventilation, not social distancing, is the key to avoiding transmission of the virus within closed spaces.
The University of Colorado Boulder and Harvard’s Chan School of Public Health published this tool earlier during the pandemic that describes how schools and other institutions with high-density indoor populations could best approach the ventilation problem.

WHO WE’RE READING, WATCHING, AND LISTENING TO THIS WEEK

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency spearheaded by Massachusetts’ senior senator, Elizabeth Warren, has published a devastating report on housing insecurity in our country.

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