The Democratic National Convention kicks off this week in Charlotte, North Carolina, hacktivists working within the group "Anonymous" are claiming they've caught the FBI spying on more than 12 million Apple customers, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor used Labor Day on Monday to shill for big businesses and CEOs, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The Democratic National Convention kicks off this week in Charlotte, North Carolina. And already, we're seeing pretty stark differences between this week's DNC and last week's RNC. One week after Republicans unveiled the most radical major party platform in American modern history – Democrats have put forward their own political platform. Some of the planks include: a full embrace of marriage equality and woman's right to choose, comprehensive immigration reform, the right for unions to collectively bargain, support for Obamacare, protection of Medicare, as we know it, increased funding for the arts, and cutting off tax breaks for job outsourcers like Bain Capital. While there are too few differences between Republican and Democrats when it comes to the big issues facing the nation like war, free trade, and the corporate takeover of our democracy, there are still huge differences between the two parties as reflected in each platform. While Democrats want to keep moving the nation forward – extending civil rights and economic opportunity to more and more Americans – Republicans want to drag us all backward to the era of the Robber Barons.
In screwed news...if you use an Apple product – the FBI could be spying on you. Hacktivists working within the group "Anonymous" are claiming they've caught the FBI spying on more than 12 million Apple customers. On Monday night, the hacktivists released FBI files that contained over 12 million Apple UDID's – which are specific numbers exclusively assigned to apple products like Iphones and Ipads. Along with the UDIDs, Anonymous is saying the FBI database also included user names, cell phone numbers, and addresses. The FBI has yet to comment on the story. In a statement on the discovery, Anonymous said, "For the last few years we have broke [sic] into systems belonging to Governments and Big corporations just to find out they are spending millions of tax dollars to spy on their citizens. They work to discredit dissenting voices." It's true, we are being spied on. The emerging surveillance state is a consequence of corporations taking over our government. One major difference between democratic rule and corporate rule – there is no transparency or individual privacy when corporations are in control.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The biggest obstacles to the Republicans' strategy to rig the election in November so far have been the courts. On Friday – Republican voter suppression efforts were knocked down again – this time in Ohio. U.S. District Judge Peter Economus overturned early voting changes made by Ohio's Republican Secretary of State John Husted. Despite tens of thousands of Ohioans using early weekend voting in 2008 – Secretary of State Husted put an end to it – arguing that early voting will increase voter fraud – even though he was unable to show any actual cases of fraud. Judge Economus smacked down that argument, ruling, "There is no definitive evidence before the court that elections boards will be tremendously burdened...Certainly, the public interest is served by restoring in-person early voting to all voters." From Voter Suppression ID laws, to cutting back on early voting, to making it harder to register – Republicans are trying their best to keep Democrats from the polls in November. And all these efforts prove one thing: Americans are long-overdue for a federal right to vote.
Mitt Romney might want to re-think running on his Bain Capital experience now. The New York Times is reporting that since July, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating Bain Capital for tax evasion. Bain is one of a number of private equity firms under scrutiny from the New York Attorney General's office, which is alleging that Bain and other companies illegally filed income as capital gains when it actually wasn't – thus avoiding a larger tax bill. As the New York Times reports – Bain may have saved as much as, "$200 million in federal income taxes and more than $20 million in Medicare taxes." It's important to note that Romney is still collecting fat paychecks from Bain Capital, and thus profiting off screwing over the government and American taxpayers. Then again, with all the cash he has stashed in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and Switzerland, Romney may have his own tax evasion issues to worry about.
There's been a major setback in the United States' exit strategy in Afghanistan. Following a series of what are known as "green on blue" attacks, where trained Afghan soldiers are turning their guns on coalition forces – the United States has suspended the training of new Afghan security forces. In the last month, 45 Western soldiers – mostly American soldiers – have been killed in green on blue attacks. Top US military commanders have put the breaks on training new Afghan recruits until the vetting process for those recruits is reexamined. A key pillar in the U.S. exit strategy is training a large enough Afghan security force to take over once the United States leaves. But with green on blue attacks on the rise all over Afghanistan – it loos like it's getting harder and harder to officially end America's longest war.
And finally...are Republicans trying to redefine Labor Day? House Majority Leader Eric Cantor used Labor Day on Monday to shill for big businesses and CEOs claiming in a statement that, "Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success." According to the Department of Labor, Labor Day is a holiday, "dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers." In other words, Labor Day is for workers – not business owners. It officially became a holiday in 1894, after two railroad workers were killed in a strike demanding better wages from business owners. Welcome to the new front in the Republican war on labor – a full assault on the one holiday honoring American workers.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, September 4th, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.