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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  May 15, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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>> father james martin and christopher robichaud, great to have you here. and i have your copy of "jesus." that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts right now. >> thanks, chris. just outside of nashville, tennessee, about 60 miles outside of nashville, there is a tiny little city called waverly. waverly, tennessee, is a city of only about a few thousand people, but on february 24th, 1978, what happened in waverly, tennessee, was the top story in the country. >> good evening. there has been a major disaster in waverly, tennessee, caused by explosions in two derailed railroad cars containing propane. at least 140 people were injured, we are told, and civil defense officials were quoted as saying the number of dead could rise as high 40. no one is sure, but it's a very big disaster. the explosion was so powerful it could be felt three miles away.
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workman were trying to transfer the propane from one tank car to trucks when it blew up and set off the blast in the ore tank car. three blocks of the city of waverly were badly damaged by this afternoon's explosions. waverly has 6,000 people. they were evacuated today. >> the entire city of waverly, tennessee, all 6,000 residents, had to be evacuated because of that explosion. that rail car explosion ultimately killed 16 people, including waverly's police chief and waverly's fire chief. that was february 24th, 1978. and then two days later, it happened again. >> good evening. in a little more than 48 hours, there have been three railroad tac car accidents in southeastern united states. before dawn this morning, another derailment in youngstown, florida, punctured a tank car, sending chlorine gas into the air and killing at least eight people. more than 60 people are in the hospital, some of them in critical condition. ken lee jones reports from
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florida. >> reporter: the train which derailed this time was a southbound freight of the atlanta and st. andrews bay railroad. a small line which operates between dothan, alabama, and panama city, florida. a tank car carrying poisonous chlorine gas was ruptured in the wreck. a deadly mist of gas spread from the tank car. motorists who were driving at night alongside the tracks were caught by surprise. most of the victim who is died were found in their cars along u.s. highway 231. >> people killed by poison gas, like they were on a battlefield in world war i or something instead of just driving their cars along a u.s. highway. amazing. after that, rail car accident in florida, and another one that same day in tennessee. and the other one that happened in waverly, tennessee, two days before that. federal investigators starting to look into whether this was maybe more than a coincidence. maybe there was some sort of systemic problem at hand. >> one after another, around the country, trains have been running off the tracks, turning
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over and often releasing from their ruptured tank cars chemicals of one kind or another, some of them dangerous. it seems to be an almost daily or weekly routine and there was a congressional hearing about this today. >> during that hearing in 1978, dozens of witnesses testified about these rail cars that seem to be blowing up, one after the other, all over the country. the hearing included local mayors, local emergency response personnel, executives from the railroad companies, as well as officials from the ntsb, the national transportation safety board. that's the federal agency that's called into investigate these sorts of accidents when they happen. and what they found, and what they testified about that day is that it was not just a coincidence that all of these tanker cars carrying toxic and hazardous chemicals were exploding all around the country. there was a problem, they said. and it was the tanker cars themselves. >> there are 20,000 so-called jumbo tank cars in use, but only a few carry the latest safety equipment intended to prevent
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tank cars from breaking open. the railroads claim it costs too much and takes too long to install. the safety board and the demonstration outside the hearing room installed the devices in a tank car mock-up in less than 30 minutes. the cost of converting all 20,000 railroad tank cars in the country with this new safety device could run as high as $30 million to $35 million. and according to the national transportation safety board, the cost of not converting in terms of lives and property lost, could be much higher. >> the railroad cars that were in use at that time, the ones that were transporting things like propane and chlorine gas all over the country, these tanker cars that were exploding, they were exploding in part because their sells were too thin and they could be easily punctured when they were bumped or knocked or when they flipped over in a crash. after that string of disasters in the 1970s, those tanker cars got an upgrade, thanks to that public prodding and that public demonstration publicity stunt
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from the ntsb. those tanker cars were upgraded with shields and insulation and safety things that kept them in tact so pieces wouldn't fly off and puncture other cars. but those were specifically done for tanker cars that were pressurized. pressurized cars that were hauling hazardous materials around the country, and incidentally, had been blowing up like ford pintos. the pressurized cars got upgraded. as for the nonpressurized cars, they didn't get upgraded. and maybe that was fine when they were carrying around nonhazardous stuff like corn syrup or vegetable oil. but there was no rule in place saying that those less-safe nonpressurized cars had no only carry benign, safe stuff. they were also allowed to carry hazardous stuff, like, say, nitric acid. take it away, reporter chris wallace.
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>> a cloud of poisonous gas forces thousands of people in denver to evacuate their homes. >> the emergency started early this morning in a railroad yard, north of downtown denver. a tank car with 20,000 gallons of nitric acid was ruptured in a freak switching accident. when the acid hit the air, an orange cloud of nitric dioxide gas started forming. air raid sirens were used to alert people. >> that was april, 1983, in denver, colorado. very scary. after that accident, the ntsb concluded that had that specific kind of rail car been one of the upgraded one, the tank car probably would not have been punctured and the release of the material probably would not have occurred. a year after that disaster, the same kind of tank car derailed and exploded in marshvale, north carolina. that destroyed three buildings and led to the evacuation of more than 2,000 people.
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a year after that, another train derailment, this time in south carolina. a freight train derailed and one of the cars burst into flames, forcing the evacuation of more than a dozen homes in the area. then it was helena, montana. rail cars loaded with hydrogen peroxide exploded and burst into flames after an unattended train rolled into a hill and slammed into another locomotive at a rail yard nearby. 2,000 people were ordered out of their homes. the hydrogen peroxide explosion in helena blew out nearly all the windows at a nearby college. each of these individual accidents involved human error or mechanical failure to some degree, in terms o of what caused the initial derailment. but the explosions that happened after the derailments and the spread of those toxic chemicals, in all of those cases, the culprit seemed to be this really simple thing, this outdated rail car. and the ntsb was screaming about it at the top of its lungs, screaming that this needed to be addressed. that these cars needed to be fixed, needed to be made more
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puncture resistant so this stopped happening. but the ntsb cannot force that to happen. they just make safety recommendations. finally, in july 1981, the ntsb, which had been investigating all these accidents, finally they wrote the federal railroad administration in 1991 and said, we veil have a problem here. these tank cars that are now carrying all sorts of hazardous material around the country, these cars that never got upgrades like the pressurized cars did, they are providing, quote, inadequate protection, and that has been, quote, evident for many years now. that was july 1st, 1991. and this was two weeks later. >> a large stretch of the sacramento river was closed to fishermen today and it may be years before it's back to normal, all because of a devastating accident. >> on july 14th, seven cars from a southern pacific train went off the tracks into the river. one car spilled over 19,000 gallons of weed killer.
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by the next morning, a green, poisonous slime began a 45-mile killing journey. as he watches trains pass by, roy hale thinks it's time to put pressure on railroads, chemical companies, and the government. >> maybe we ought to look at what's moving through our cities. and how that stuff is protected and how those tanks are made. >> maybe we ought to start looking at how those tanks are made. that's an excellent idea. and that is what the ntsb, for decades, had been asking, pleaded with the federal government to do. because it's clear that the industry apparently was not going to do it themselves. couldn't somebody make them do it? this past january, the news agency mcclatchy rounded up all these kind of tank car accidents. there are a ton of these examples, including one that shut down the holland tunnel in new york city for nearly two days. and this one specific model of rail cars, essentially, the common denominator in all of these accidents. and there are tens of thousands of these rail cars out there right now.
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after that type of rail car kept exploding while transporting things like hydrogen peroxide and methanol, about ten years ago, these cars started to be used in really large numbers to move ethanol, the plant-based fuel that's often blended into gasoline. ethanol got a big boost in the mid-2000s, which meant a lot more was being moved around the country. these unsafe cars were the cars that did the lion's share of that work. and ethanol is pretty explosive. that's the whole point of why you can mix it into fuel. and filling tens of thousands of these prone-to-explode soda can rail cars, filling them full of ethanol, that did nothing to stop our nation's explosion problem. after a 2006 derailment and an explosion outside of pittsburgh, the ntsb said, again, hey, these tanker cars are a problem. after a 2009 derailment and explosion in illinois, that one killed a driver, who was just waiting at a railroad crossing for the train to pass. the ntsb again cited the deficiencies of this one specific tanker car as a contributing factor in that
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accident. so these tanker cars, they blow up when hauling chlorine gas, they blow up when hauling nitric acid, they blow up when hauling hydrogen peroxide. they blow up when they're hauling ethanol. guess what they're hauling these days? it's not hard to guess. >> reporter: the massive inferno sent flames into the night sky, fueled by crude oil from ruptured tank cars. the runaway, unmanned 73-car train derailed about 1:00 a.m., sparking a fire and explosion that shattered the quiet of this lake town 135 miles north of the maine border. >> what's it look like? a war zone. a lot of buildings burned. >> reporter: by daybreak, the skies were still black with thick smoke, visible for miles. >> last summer, it was a small lake town in quebec, just over the u.s. border, which found out what happens when this specific type of rail car is allowed to transport crude oil. that derailment and inferno
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wiped out nearly all of the downtown area and killed 47 people on the ground. that disaster showed what can happen, not only when this outdated model of rail cars transporting crude oil, but specifically what can happen with this outdated rail car transporting crude oil from north dakota. because by a cruel twist of fate, the crude oil we extract from north dakota turns out to be extra flammable, extra explosive. just a few months after that derailment nearly wiped out that whole town in canada, something nor closely resembling armageddon was visited upon the residents of the town of castleton, north dakota, just outside of fargo, north dakota. that derailment and explosion forced the evacuation of two third of the town. and when the ntsb came to investigate, what they discovered on the scene was, yes, the charred wreckage of those same outdated rail cars, that had been failing, like clockwork, for decades now. and here's the amazing part.
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after decades of accidents like that happening in every corner of our country and across the border in canada as well, the railroad and chemical and tanker industry, they did, finally, voluntarily commit to making these rail cars safer. they said they would upgrade them with thicker shells and shields on the ends to try to prevent punctures. so even the industry itself now recognizes that there is a problem here. but because nobody's making them change and they are setting their own terms, look at this, they only committed the to the upgrades for rail cars that were built after october 2011. the ones that were built before that, eh, we'll take our chances and leave them on the rails. when the industry proposed that, the ntsb, which probably at this point feels like it's living in the twilight zone, the ntsb said, no. no, no, no. the higher safety standards have to apply to all of these tanker cars. the ones built before october 2011, their going to have to be either retrofitted or phased out. you have to stop rolling these
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bombs through every city and town in america. to that suggestion, the industry representative said the ntsb was overreacting. they said it would cost way too much money and, besides, they said, the threat of a serious accident was way overstated. quote, it's more likely you're going to be hit by are lightning. that's what they said. well, lightning is not just striking in quebec and castleton north dakota, lightning also struck in alabama last november where these outdated rail cars caused an explosion that led to the release of 748,000 gallons of crude oil. lightning then struck in new brunswick in canada in january, where a number of the cars that derailed and exploded were those older model tanker cars that were not built to the newer standards. and then lightning struck again last month in lynchburg, virginia, when a train carrying crude oil derailed and its tanker cars exploded and they leaked their flaming, toxic contents into the james river. the investigation into that
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crash is still ongoing. but just a week before that crash, literally a week before, the outgoing chair of the ntsb was trying desperately to sound the alarm on this issue. she said the obama administration needed to take immediate steps to protect the public from potentially catastrophic oil chain accidents. even if it meant using emergency authority, she said federal regulators have the power to issue emergency orders to protect the public, rather than run the risk of another accident happening before new regulations can be put in place. she said, quote, the rules are not moving fast enough. we don't need a higher body count before they move forward. and then a week to the day after she said that, the city of lynchburg, virginia, became the latest symbol of this slow-motion, public policy disaster. there were roughly 10,000 rail cars full of oil moved through the united states the year before president obama was sworn in. last year, it wasn't 10,000 cars, it was over 400,000 cars full of oil.
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and the industry says they expect that to go up by another 50% this year. we are in the middle of a huge oil boom in this country, and bully for us! but one big public policy consequence of that for the rest of us who aren't in the oil industry is that oil trains turn out to be bombs that roll right through our population centers, all day, every day, not very far away from us humans at all. and the cars they put the oil in are not safe to put the oil in. and we know that because they keep blowing up. and they have been for decades. the federal agency that can do something here, the agency that could mandate, for instance, that the industry zbrapd its cars, not just the new ones, but the old ones too, the agency that can do that is the transportation department. the night of that derailment and explosion in lynchburg, virginia, that same night, the transportation department finally submitted to the white house a long-awaited package of rules aimed at improving the safety of oil transport by rail.
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those rules have not been made public yet. the white house says it's in the process of reviewing them right now. but in the meantime, these tanker cars are still out there, still crisscrossing the country. this type of rail car is the workhorse of the industry and it apparently cannot safely transport all of this oil that we're now producing hand over fist in this country and transporting using those cars. we're doing it anyway. we're just trying anyway, even though we know the risks. even though we see the risks. last week, as the transportation department is waiting to find out what's going to happen with its new rules, the transportation secretary, anthony fox, announced that these rail cars are essentially not fit for service. he issued a safety alert, advising the industry to no longer use that type of rail car for transporting oil. but that is a piece of advice that is completely voluntary for the industry. that advice doesn't require the industry to do anything. it's just an alert. hey, we know what you're doing isn't safe. if the oil industry does not stop using these rail cars,
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which apparently are unfit for service, what will the federal government do then? joining us next is the transportation secretary himself, anthony fox. please stay with us.
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behind me is the old tappan zee bridge. longest bridge in new york and one of the busiest bridges around. as any commuter will tell you, it is crowded. it carries a lot more traffic
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than when it was built back in 1955. at times, you can see the river through the cracks in the pavement. now, i'm not an engineer, but i figure, that's not good. >> that was president obama earlier this afternoon, speaking in front of the tappan zee bridge in new york state. the bridge is over 50 years old and it is falling apart. and you can see the river through the cracks in it. but a new bridge is being built to take its place. it's a multi-billion-dollar project. the president today basically taking a victory lap on having gotten that project permitted and noting that construction right now is running ahead of schedule. joining us tonight for the interview is our nation's transportation secretary, anthony fox. he was at the tappan zee bridge today with the president, when the president announced that he's going to be fast tracking 11 new major infrastructure projects across the country. secretary fox, thank you so much for being here. >> glad to be with you, rachel. >> appreciate you being here. do want to talk to you about oil tonight. but in terms of your event with the president today, are you worried that federal funding for these kinds of infrastructure
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projects is going to dry up, that congress is going to screw it up, even as the administration's trying to do more? >> we're headed for a cliff. and as early as august of this year, the highway trust fund, which funds our roads and bridges and transit systems across the country is headed towards insolvency, which means we can't meet our obligations to state and local governments and it will slow down contracts, 700,000 jobs are at risk. it's going to be a big deal. >> and it needs overt congressional action in order to not dry up. >> only congress can solve this problem. >> that's the scariest sentence in washington these days. in terms of the nation's infrastructure needs, we have had a huge upsurge in oil production in this country. it has lots of policy consequences, but on the ground, for those of us looking at railroad crossings next to our elementary schools and everything, it has meant a huge upsurge in the amount of oil that gets sent across this country by train. you have suggested that we are -- we may be doing that in an unsafe way. is that true? >> yes, i am very concerned
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about this and i think your beginning of this segment was incredibly poignant, because this country is experiencing a proliferation of oil production, but we are also experiencing a time when our infrastructure system and our safety standards need to keep up with the standard of production that's happening in this country. if we're going to be first in the world at producing energy, we need to be first in safety. >> in terms of the way the government can ensure that happens, it was interesting to look over time for me, i didn't really realize until i started looking through this prism that the ntsb, which investigates all these accidents, they have been setting their hair on fire about this for a very long time, saying this isn't safe, this isn't safe, and they've been saying it for decades with good reason. they obviously can't set a rule that makes the industry stop shipping this stuff in those kinds of cars. who can? >> well, the department of transportation can. and we are -- we've sent our comprehensive rule to ohio, which is a department within the white house, and that review is ongoing.
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we're hoping to get that out as soon as we can. but it's going to deal with not just the tank car standard, but also with speed restrictions. it's going to deal, you know, rooting and all kinds of issues that have to deal with keeping people safe. >> when you look specifically at the tank car issue and look back at all those decades of warnings, do you feel like you understand why those improvements didn't happen in the past? why we haven't been able to make those anymore safe, even after we've had these disasters after disasters? are you taking that into account with the way you're recommending these changes now? >> within the first month of my service in this department, the explosion in canada happened. and i've had to focus on this since day one. it's very complex. the d.o.t. want '11 that need to be retrofitted or replaced. that's consistent with what the ntsb has said in the past. but the incident in lynchburg were an upgraded tank car and
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they were going slow. so this is an issue where we've got to hit the target when we set a new standard and that's what we're after. >> is it clear what the new target should be? you issued the safety alert and said the oil industry shouldn't be using some specific kinds of rail cars. is it clear to you and what you've sent up to the white house that you know what ought to be done, specifically, in terms of the technology? >> yes. but i can tell you that i don't have confidence in the d.o.t. 1-11. i'm unconvinced that the 12-32, the upgraded car is the solution. i think there needs to be a new kind of tank car established to keep this country as safe as possible. >> if the industry doesn't want to go there, doesn't want to do that. if they say, no, no, we've done enough voluntarily, and maybe we'll retrofit more cars, but we don't want to do there. what happens next in terms of -- obviously, you want the industry to do it voluntarily. there's no joy in forcing them to. but if the government believes that's what you need to do in order for them to be kept safe, how are they going to do it?
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>> they don't write the standard. it's based on data, what they know about this substance and other similar substances. we want to make sure this country is safe and we'll do everything we can to get there. >> you've got a -- i imagine that's going to be a big fight on your hands and a really interesting and important one, but i know in the shorter term, you have an even bigger fight on your hands with the highway trust fund and the funding for your own department. thank you for being here. our nation's secretary of transportation, anthony foxx. we've got a lot more coming up tonight, including a weird personal thing that i'm already regretting in advance doing before i do it. it's coming up, stay with us.
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in massachusetts, the tea party republican candidate for governor says the state republican party tried to buy him off with $1 million. the state republican party, in turn, says, actually, no, the tea party guy tried to extort them for $1 million. but now that million-dollar mess in massachusetts, which honestly is the most entertaining mess in that state's politics in a long time, that mess in massachusetts has started to spread to other states. and specifically, to another republican governor, one who really, really wants to be president. and that story is next. [ male announcer ] eliminate odors and reduce allergens
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last december, the mass gop came to me and offered me $1 million to drop out of the race for governor. my first reaction was, this is a bribe. this is illegal. this can't be done. and my second reaction was, they have no clue why i'm running.
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there's no amount of money that's going to get me out of this race. they came back again. are you sure? is there any amount of money that you would consider to drop out of the race? and i told my attorney, i consider some amount of money, if it was part of a bigger deal, part of a bigger deal that included my getting on the ballot, to pay for the attorney's fees. they came back again. what kind of number are you looking for? i said, you make the offer. what kind of number are you looking for. repeatedly, they came back, asking for a number. i told my attorney, tom, to shut them up, tell them it's the same number they offered me back in december, $1 million. it's a ridiculous amount. i knew it, tom knew it, and even lou knew it. because he responded to tom saying, is he serious? and i said, it's the same number that you guys approached me with. it's ridiculous. >> that guy's going to be on the ballot. his name is mark fisher. he's the tea party republican
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candidate for governor in massachusetts. and this has been part of just an amazing saga in massachusetts. the state republican party first said that that guy, mark fisher, the tea party candidate, had demanded $1 million as like his ransom to stay off the primary ballot, thus giving the establishment republican candidate a clear shot at the general election. after the party accused him of trying to extort them for $1 million, that's when he came out and said, no, no, they tried to bribe me with $1 million to stay off the ballot. and then after all that, the massachusetts republican party said to him, okay, you can be on the ballot. it's just been bizarre and amazing to watch and i don't think anybody made $1 million. but now it looks like the result of all of is that there is going to be a republican primary for governor in massachusetts, with the establishment guy having to face off against the tea party guy and that, of course, is bad news for the establishment guy, for the massachusetts republican would-be candidate, charlie baker. now he's going to have to spend the next four months fighting
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this other guy about tea party concerns instead of campaigning against the democratic nominee for governor. and while that is all going on, "the boston globe" has now started picking up and running with a potentially politically deadly story that was first unearthed by the great david serotta, who now writes for pando daily. and charlie baker is involved and charlie baker's having a really hard time these days, what with the tea party guy and the million-dollar bribe and all the rest of it. but the other politician who was involved in this story, in a way that i think is inarguably worse than the way charlie baker is involved in it, is this guy, new jersey governor chris christie, who himself is not having a very good week. this is governor christie giving a talk today at a fiscal summit, all about his chris christie wisdom on fiscal matters and fiscal conservatism. governor christie had to give that long planned talk this morning, just hours after the credit rating in new jersey got
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downgraded for the sixth time. mr. christie has now tied the record for credit rating downgrades in his state. in the morning after the sixth downgrade, he has to give the, you know, look at my fiscal policy talk, to a national audience. this is very awkward. beyond that awkwardness, here's good old david serotta and "the boston globe" reporting on a $10,000 donation made to the new jersey republican state committee by charlie baker. charlie baker, the republican candidate for governor in massachusetts. mr. baker, in addition to being a candidate, is also a partner at a financial firm called general catalyst in massachusetts. and a few months after charlie baker gave that donation to the new jersey republican party, his company, general catalyst, got told that they were getting $25 million new jersey pension money. general catalyst invested some of that money in at least one company where charlie baker was directly involved with the company.
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so, basically, what it looks like is charlie baker paid chris christie and then new jersey paid charlie baker. the real problem here is that new jersey law is very explicit on this subject. new jersey law says really explicitly that you cannot invest any of this money, any of this state pension money with an investment firm if, quote, any investment management professional associated with such investment management firm has made, quote, any political contribution or payment to any political party or political committee organized in new jersey. and that appears to be exactly what charlie baker did. and then his firm got many millions of dollars from new jersey. so now, everybody scramble. in massachusetts, on the massachusetts side of this story, charlie baker now says he is not at all a partner in that investment firm. he says, yes, he did list himself as a partner in that investment firm when he gave the donation to new jersey republicans, but it must have
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been some kind of mistake. charlie baker further insists that he's not even an employee of this investment firm, never met him, really. pay no attention to this picture of him on the firm's website, which lists him as a partner. so there is trouble in boston for charlie baker on this one. and the more the massachusetts press stays on this, the bigger that trouble is going to get, until he comes up with a more reasonable explanation for what happened here and what his job is outside of politics. in new jersey, though, the trouble is quieter, so far, bit looks like it has the potential to become even worse than it is in boston. not just because chris christie wants to be president, but because of how clear new jersey law is on this issue and how hard it is to explain whatever happened here in a way that gets anybody around this very clear state law. >> i never once made a phone call to bob grady, the chairman of the investment counsel or any of the commissioners or any of
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the employees to tell them how to invest. that's why i hired them. they invest. >> yeah, but they apparently just invested with a guy who donated money to you. and under new jersey law, that appears to be a very plainly illegal action. we asked governor christie's office today about a comment they had made on this story, calling david serotta's original reporting biased, erroneous, and riddled with errors. we asked governor christie's office to please spell out the errors riddling that reporting and they said today, that reporting was biased, erroneous, and riddled with errors. so no movement there. joining us now is the man who broke this story, which has riled the politics of massachusetts and may yet rile the already pretty riled politics of new jersey, david serotta, staff writer for pando daily. david, good to see you. thanks for being here. >> thanks for having me. >> has the christie administration listed for you any of the errors that they say riddle your reporting on this story? >> no, they haven't. they have not offered one
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factual reputation of what we've reported. and it's pretty clear from the documents what this is all about. all you have to do is look on the new jersey state government's website. their database of campaign contributions, and look at this, and what has come out is the best-case scenario, i think, for the christie administration, is that for some reason, they just simply didn't look. the worst case is, is that perhaps somebody knew and didn't want to look. but the point is is that this is straight documentary investigative journalism and the christie administration has no answer for it. >> if they didn't look, as you say, if they essentially made this pension none decision unknowingly, is that a defense? and if you have now uncovered that they did this, even if they did it unknowingly, should they unwind it? should they stop doing it? is new jersey law clear on that? >> it's not a defense to say, we didn't know. the fact is that new jersey division of treasury rules say that if a contribution is made, the contract is in breach, the
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contract is invalid. in fact, new jersey treasury rules say if a contribution is made, the contract cannot be offered. so the christie administration needs to answer why it offered the contract. and certainly, now, with the evidence out there, it would seem that the christie administration needs to ask the question, is this contract invalid. >> on the charlie baker side of it, the fumbling on the charily baker side of it has been, for me, just as an observer of massachusetts republican politics, it's been surprising, because i think of charlie baker as a very competent guy who manages things well at least in terms of his own image, and the explanation that he didn't mean to list himself as a partner, he isn't really associated with this firm, he's not an employee, he's not an investment management professional at all, it's -- that's been, essentially, the defense his firm says they don't think mr. baker is covered by this pay-to-play law in new jersey. that's the way that they are trying to defend it. what's your reaction to that? >> i think it's absurd.
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the new jersey state rules are very serious about this and very broad. they say associated with, especially those treasury rules. so the idea that charlie baker is not associated with the firm in question is ridiculous. and the third story that we broke on this, that new jersey invested specifically in an investment fund run by this company, general catalyst, that then invested in firms that charlie baker sits on the board of. so you have a direct tie between new jersey taxpayer money going into a specific fund and then going out on the other side, to specific firms on which charlie baker sits on the board of. the idea that this is okay, and that, oh, i just didn't know anything, or i'm not an investment professional, even though i'm advising the firm on investments and even though new jersey taxpayer money is going into the firms that i'm sitting on the board of just doesn't past the smell test. >> david, let me ask you too, about -- and you may not feel like you want to answer this, but i want to get your impressions. this has gotten pickup in
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massachusetts and this has really embarrassed charlie baker. he is having a very hard time of it anyway. massachusetts republican party just can't figure out its elbow from its other body parts right now. they're having trouble and "the globe" covering this has put a lot more pressure on him. in new jersey, this has not been added to the pile of chris christie scandals and potential scandals to the same degree. is that just for want of ink? because there's so much else to cover in new jersey right now? why do you think it's being seen as more of a charlie baker story? >> i think it's pretty noisy in new jersey right now, certainly. i also think there's some in new jersey, there's some corruption fatigue. i think people say, well, new jersey's corrupt, so this kind of thing probably happens all the time. but the fact is our investigative reporting is about what is on the books in terms of the law. new jersey has some of the strongest pay-to-play laws in the country. there are s.e.c. laws that this involves. the fact is that this is a question, you're absolutely right, both for charlie baker, but as importantly for the christie administration.
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the new jersey pension fund is one of the largest pension funds. it's got billions and billions and billions of dollars that are supposed to be there for retirees. it is not supposed to be there wheeling and dealing and handing out financial favors to christie donors and republican donors, political donors of any stripe. and that looks like what's going on right now. and the questions need to be answered. and i think in the coming days, you'll see a lot more questions be asked. >> and because of that worry in new jersey, that's why new jersey has such a clear law on the subject. a lot of states don't. but that's what i think makes this story so explosive, is that the law is so clear, and it's so hard to explain this without looking like you have violated this law. david sirota, staff writer for pando daily, who's done really incredible work on this story, thank you so much. >> thanks, rachel. lots more to come tonight, including a note about the most important man in my life. that sounds weird. it's supposed to. we'll be right back. ♪
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what is this place? where are we? this is where we bring together reliably fast internet and the best in entertainment. we call it the x1 entertainment operating system. it looks like the future! we must have encountered a temporal vortex. further analytics are necessary. beam us up. ♪ that's my phone. hey.
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[ female announcer ] the x1 entertainment operating system. only from xfinity. tv and internet together like never before. working in a mine is a dangerous thing to do even in the absence of a large scale disaster. three weeks ago they updated federal rules for exposure to coal dust. because the number of coal miners in the country with black lung is starting to spike back up again. yes in the 21st century. there are things about the
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everyday work of mining that are hazardous to the health of the people who do the mining. each in the absence of any major catastrophe. but the other major reason that we thing of mining as dangerous work is because when something catastrophic does go wrong. it can be huge in the world in all kinds of mining disasters. in 1906 in france, a dust explosion kills almost 1,100 people all in one mine all in one disaster. two huge explosions one man is saved. but 367 american men and boys are killed. 1913, in wales, 439 men killed in one mine in one gas explosion. 1942,in china, the worst one ever in the world.
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more than 1,500 coal miners killed in a single accident. in south africa, in 1960, the mine collapses, more than 400 men killed. 1962, west germany, 300 killed. the mining industry is dangerous in the absence of these huge disasters. but these huge disasters, when they happen, they often kill hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people. all at once. all underground. in horrible circumstances. and today, in the nation of turkey, a fire is still burning inside a coal mine where they think 150 men are still in the mine underground. they're facing the self-defeating problem of needing to pump oxygen into the mine so survivors will have air to breathe all right while knowing the oxygen also feeds the fire. that they need to put out to get the men out of there. the fire started yesterday. 274 miners are already then to be dead in this accident. 274. 363 men have been rescued.
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and 150 are thought to still be down there right now. the fire is burning, more than a mile below ground. it started when a power distribution unit exploded. part of what that unit powered was the ventilation system. so, nobody knows if a mile underground there is still enough air down there for anyone to be able to still survive now. >> reporter: they emerge slowly, the dead carried out. the survivors lucky to be alive. the explosion happened last night during a shift change. killing hundreds. cutting power. down in the mine. the fire still burned. with toxic gas so thick, the security camera footage appears hazy. rescuers pumped in fresh air, and desperately tried to find anyone alive. but hope is fading. and relatives of the missing are demanding answers. i don't know what is happening this miner's wife says.
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is he wounded? is he missing? i haven't heard anything president? prime minister rushed to the scene. but seemed tone deaf to the tragedy. accidents happen, he said. he became the focus of relatives' anger. murderer they said. his car was surrounded by a kicking, rock throwing mob. after he was gone, protesters clashed with police. the anger quickly spread to other parts of turkey. in ankara, fires and tear gas. in istanbul, riot police, using water cannons and plastic bullets on crowds, demanding the prime minister step down. the mine disaster, perhaps the worst in this country's history is fueling a challenge, to the government itself. >> that report tonight from richard engel who is in turkey for nbc. richard reports a petition had been launched, increased safety
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measures there. it is far too late. the fire is burning. rescue efforts are still under way. we'll let you know more as we learn more. stay with us. more ahead. nineteen years ago, we thought, "wow, how is there no way to tell the good from the bad?" so we gave people the power of the review. and now angie's list is revolutionizing local service again. you can easily buy and schedule services from top-rated providers. conveniently stay up to date on progress. and effortlessly turn your photos into finished projects with our snapfix app. visit today. ♪
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anct nc ]o#2evaan t ies arat ou kouray yo this is not a programming note. this is personal. my dear old dad's birthday today. he is 71 years old. this is a picture of him from when he was 41 years old. i think, roughly. that's best as i can tell. my dad did not usually dress like this. this is his halloween costume. 1984, he went for halloween as a mediterranean fruit fly. in the maddow family we like policy jokes. there is my dad embarrassing me mightily. he was dressed up as a med fly.
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a funny policy joke. at a time where there was a aerial spraying eradication of the med fly where we lived in california. to push the joke, you can see here, see, that he has further identified himself as a fertile med fly. which makes him all the more dangerous. and as you can see here. his med fly wings are repurposing of the wings from my monarch butterfly halloween costume which i wore the year before. now, from the same party, here is my mom, she is the one there dressed up as a rubik's cube. that on the right is someone reaching in from off frame to hand her the save the medfly sign she carried that year. she loves my dad. when he is dressed as a bug. dressed as a bug labeled fertile and that drinks coors.
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i love you too, dad. happy birthday. all right. end of personal digression. we now return to our regularly scheduled programming here on msnbc. i might get fired. here on msnbc. i might get fired. "first look" is up next. good thursday morning. right now on "first look," state of emergency. california is facing evacuations while record heat is blanketing much of the southwest. casey found. late breaking news overnight on the location of radio legend casey kasem. miraculous rescue. a small child attacked by a vicious dog is saved by the family cat. plus emotions running high at the site of the turkish mine disaster. also, bill clinton defends hillary by comparing karl rove to hobgoblins. hello, everyone. welcome.