In today's On the News segment: Fukushima's water-treatment manager admitted that they are having trouble disposing of hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated nuclear waste water; a CEO threatened his employees that he would drop the company's contributions to employee retirement funds if Obama wins; oil giant ConocoPhillips announced earnings of $1.8 billion in the third-quarter of this year, yet receives on average $600 million in tax breaks ever single year; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news ...
You need to know this. Meet Mike White – the latest CEO to threaten his employees if Mitt Romney loses. White is the owner of the industrial equipment firm Rite-Hite – and he recently sent an email to his 1,400 employees cautioning them that should Barack Obama win a second term, then he will have to drop the company's contributions to employee retirement funds. He also warned there is a "good chance" employees will also lose their healthcare should President Obama win. Ever since Mitt Romney was caught telling the National Federation of Independent Businesses to tell their employees who they should vote, several CEOs have done just that – including the Koch brothers. And if it works, then this will be just the beginning when it comes to politicking in the workplace. Expect day-long seminars in the future with employers campaigning on behalf of political candidates and feeding their workers misinformation about who they should vote for. This is the rise of the corporatocracy – as corporate CEOs receive their marching orders from bought-off corporate politicians – and then turn their workers into foot soldiers to campaign and vote on behalf of the interests of the oligarchs. Yet another consequence of post-Citizens United America. Go to MoveToAmend.org.
In screwed news ... why do corporations get whatever they want? It's because the money they used to spend paying taxes is now spent on lobbying Congress. Case in point, oil giant ConocoPhillips. On Thursday, ConocoPhillips announced earnings of $1.8 billion in the third-quarter of this year – bringing total profits to $7 billion this year so far. It's the ninth largest company in the world. But here's the kicker – ConocoPhillips receives on average $600 million in tax breaks ever single year – allowing the oil giant to spend more than $20 million lobbying Congress since 2011. This is the problem with America today – as corporations live in a completely different world than the rest of us. A world where they don't have to pay taxes, where they have their own bought-off lawmakers, and where they can pay their CEOs tens of millions of dollars while wages for working people plummet. Meanwhile the rest of us are screwed by an economic depression.
In the best of the rest of the news...
No one wants to talk about it on the campaign trail, but the American people are standing up to our nation's overseas drone war. On Thursday morning, sixteen people were arrested for disorderly conduct and trespassing at the National Guard Hancock Field in New York as they tried to protest against the use of drones in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan, and who know where else. Many of the drones deployed around the world are guided by remote control by operators at Hancock Field – far, far away from the damage and death they are spreading. We as a nation need to take a serious look at drone warfare and ask ourselves how we've gotten to this point – this point where we are launching kill missions resulting in the death of thousands of civilians without any legal authority. The consequences of this drone warfare may be longer lasting than any of us can imagine.
It's been a year and a half of crisis at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan – and that crisis continues to this day. This week, Fukushima's water-treatment manager admitted that they are having trouble disposing of hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated nuclear waste water. Since the plant began melting down in March of last year – TEPCO operators have been desperately dumping water on the exposed reactors to keep them cool. Now, all that water has accumulated within the reactors and TEPCO is running out of space to put it all. Over the next three years, the amount of wastewater is expected to triple at the plant – worsening an already massive health concern. Fukushima is teaching the world that despite decades of nuclear energy proliferation, we still don't fully understand the dangers of nuclear power. Nor do we know how to deal with nuclear catastrophes like Fukushima. It's time to build movements around the planet and ditch nuclear power for good. No nukes!
With just days to go until the election, the Romney campaign is blowing the dog whistle pretty loudly. Top Romney surrogate, John Sununu appeared on CNN Thursday night – and dismissed Colin Powell's recent endorsement of President Obama as racially-motivated. When asked about the endorsement, Sununu responded, "When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that's an endorsement based on issues or whether he's got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama...I think when you have somebody of your own race that you're proud of being president of the United States." As in, Colin Powell endorsed the president because they're both black. Colin Powell already made clear why he was endorsing the president – praising his leadership while criticizing Mitt Romney's domestic and foreign policy agenda. But any chance the Romney campaign can get to inject race into the election – they'll jump at it. Unclear if Sununu is campaigning on behalf of Mitt Romney because they're both white.
And finally ... so much for Silvio Berlusconi mounting a return to politics in Italy. On Friday, a court in Milan found Berlusconi guilty of tax fraud and sentenced him to four years in prison. Of course, Berlusconi has had his string of run-ins with the law as Prime Minister – being accused of corruption, false accounting, and sexual misconduct. But this is the first time Berlusconi has actually been nailed for any of his wrongdoings. Back in November, Berlusconi was forced out of office and replaced by a Conservative technocrat to oversee a new austerity regime in Italy. There had been rumors Berlusconi may attempt to run for office again – though that's unlikely to happen now. Looks like Berlusconi should prepare himself for a whole new sort of Bunga Bunga party...in prison.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, October 26, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.