In today's On the News segment: Ohio Republicans admit eliminating weekend voting would make it harder for some African-Americans to make it to the polls; BP is looking for technology to drill even deeper, higher pressure oil wells; a dozen freshman Republican lawmakers reportedly had a drunken swim fest in the Sea of Galilee last summer; and more
I'm Jim Javinsky - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. On Sunday, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange addressed his supporters from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's been holed up for two months trying to avoid extradition to Sweden and perhaps the United States. He thanked Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa for granting him political asylum – and then pivoted toward the United States – urging President Obama to, "do the right thing." Assange said the United States must end its "witch hunt" against Whistleblowers and release Army private Bradley Manning who's been imprisoned for more than two years and has yet to see a trial. The Julian Assange saga is far from over – since the British government refuses to grant him safe passage out of the country to Ecuador. We now have political prisoners trying to flee the Western world – which is indicative of a large shift happening in the global power structure.
Proponents of controversial Voter Suppression ID laws and other voting reforms are admitting to what we all already know – those laws are intended to keep blacks and other minorities from the polls. Despite hundreds of thousands of Ohioans taking advantage of weekend voting during the 2008 election – Republican election officials in the state voted to end weekend voting for this election. According to a study by Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates, a large percentage – and in some counties a majority – of those using weekend early voting are African Americans. But as one Republican election official, Doug Priesse, told the Columbus Dispatch, "I...feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate...African Americans." But – according to Priesse – Republicans should actively pass laws that restrict the voting rights of African Americans.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Republicans are running as fast as they can from Congressman Todd Akin – the Republican nominee for Senate in Missouri. On Sunday morning, Akin said he did not support abortion in the case of rape because, "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down." Akin claims a doctor gave him that information – and he didn't clarify what he meant by "legitimate rape." Akin later said he misspoke, however he did not apologize for the comments. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill – who is facing off against Akin and currently losing to him in the polls – responded to the comments saying she was "stunned." Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan distanced themselves from Akin's comments; however the Republican Party has been working for decades to redefine rape in an effort to limit access to abortions. In fact – just last year – every single Republican in the House of Representatives supported H.R. 3, which narrowed the definition of rape to "forcible rape" – to deny women access to abortion if they did struggle to fight off their attacker. This latest comment from a Republican politician should be a wakeup call to all women in America – the Republican Party is full of dinosaurs that really don't care about you.
Big oil hasn't learned its lesson from 2010's BP oil spill in the Gulf. Either that or it just doesn't care. Reuters is reporting that oil rigs drilling "ultra-deep" wells have hit historic highs – with more than 80 rigs now drilling at depths of 7,500 feet or more. The likes of BP, Chevron, and Shell are all getting into the deep water drilling game – despite the clear risks of it. In fact, BP is looking to drill even deeper – already developing new technology to drill in even deeper, higher pressure wells. One reason, why big oil is taking so many risks – is because they know they won't be held accountable when they screw up. Not one BP executive has been charged with any crimes stemming from the 2010 oil spill that killed 11 men, ruined coastlines along the Gulf Coast, and has done untold damage to marine life and the food chain in the area. Time to hold Big Oil accountable – after all – what's underneath our land should belong to all of us – not a handful of rich CEOs.
With Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan pushing for more tax cuts for the rich, a new study shows this election will hinge on a choice – do we want to hire more teachers and send more kids to college – or do we want the rich to get richer. The Institute for Policy Studies published a new report showing that tax loopholes used to boost CEO bonus pay cost taxpayers $14.4 billion a year. That same amount of money could instead be used to hire 211,000 elementary school teachers or give Pell Grants to 2.5 million college students. Of course – Republicans around the country are busy laying off school teachers and cutting Pell Grants, in order to pay for more of those same tax breaks for the rich. Plain and simple, a vote for Mitt Romney is a vote against education – and a vote for oligarchy.
And finally...Politico is reporting that more than a dozen Freshman Republican lawmakers got tipsy and went swimming in the holy Sea of Galilee in Israel while on delegation last August. Republican Kevin Yoder from Kansas – who allegedly stripped naked before jumping into the sea that the Bible says Jesus walked on. Yoder apologized to his constituents on Sunday saying he is, "I feel incredibly remorseful that I have caused embarrassment to my constituents and I have caused folks who believe in me to be disappointed." Reports suggest that the FBI investigated the incident – and that the group of lawmakers was scolded by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. After all, nothing says Republican family values like getting drunk and skinny-dipping at a holy site.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, August 20, 2012. I'm Jim Javinsky - In for Thom Hartmann – on the news.