In today's On the News segment: US government is now under pressure to abandon its continued war on drugs, at least nine people were arrested in Texas on Monday as they tried to prevent a foreign corporation from building a toxic oil pipeline across the US, it's time for us to do what France is doing and get the hell out of Afghanistan, and more.
You need to know this. Listen carefully – and you'll hear the drug war breathing its last gasps. Following the historic passage of marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington, our federal government is now under pressure to abandon its continued war on drugs – in particular its war on marijuana. Eighteen Members of Congress wrote a letter this week to the Department of Justice to allow states to be "laboratories of democracy" and create their own drug laws to address the "disproportionate impact that marijuana has on minorities." The letter defends the decision of voters in Colorado and Washington saying: "These states have chosen to move from a drug policy that spends millions of dollars turning ordinary Americans into criminals toward one that will tightly regulate the use of marijuana while raising tax revenue to support cash-strapped state and local governments." Basically, lawmakers in Congress are telling the federal government to get out of the way when it comes to state drug laws. Last Friday, two lawmakers in the House introduced legislation that would exempt states with their own marijuana laws from the Controlled Substances Act's marijuana regulations. This isn't about letting American get high when they want to. This is about ending a racist, ineffective, and costly drug war that has ruined the lives of millions of Americans. And we're winning.
In screwed news... At least nine people were arrested in Texas on Monday as they tried to prevent a foreign corporation from building a toxic oil pipeline across the United States. Following Sunday's actions in front of the White House against TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, several protesters formed a blockade down in Texas to stop TransCanada's bulldozers from clearing a path for their pipeline. According to reports – police officers used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse the activists and then arrested them. At a nearby site, protesters locked themselves to machinery successfully shutting down construction for a short time. Climate scientists have been clear about the dangers of the Keystone XL pipeline – calling it a "ticking time bomb" for the environment. And if President Obama won't stand up and halt construction of it, then "We the people" will have to get active and do it ourselves. Go to TarSandsBlockade.org.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Down in Florida's 18th Congressional district, Tea Party Congressman Allen West finally conceded his House race to Democrat Patrick Murphy – further improving the Democrats' performance on Election Day. Over the weekend in California, two Republican Congressmen finally conceded their close races to Democrats, too. Also, Democrats kept Gabrielle Giffords's seat in Arizona and held on to pick up a handful of more seats in the House more than a week after the election. Altogether, Democrats picked up 8 seats in the House to narrow the Republican majority. Though in reality, Democrats should have picked up a lot more as their House candidates won more votes than Republican House candidates across the nation. Unfortunately, gerrymandering efforts by Republican state legislatures in 2010 neutralized the Democratic vote - securing the Republican majority in the House. So the Republican idea lost big on Election Day, but somehow they're still in power. Let's fix that in two years.
Democrats won big in Wisconsin this year on Election Day, but the state's Republican Governor Scott Walker wants to make sure that doesn't happen again in the future. Wisconsin is one of a few states in the nation that has same-day voter registration – allowing Wisconsinites to register and vote on Election Day. As a result – back in 2008 the state had the second highest voter turnout in the nation with nearly a half million people – or 15% of the electorate – taking advantage of Election Day Registration. Studies show same-day voter registration boosts turnout by 7% to 14%. And we all know when more people vote, Democrats tend to do better. But during a speech last week, Governor Walker pushed for getting rid of same-day registration saying, "States across the country that have same-day registration have real problems...It'd be much better if registration was done in advance of Election Day. It'd be easier for out clerks to handle that." It'd also be easier for his Republican colleagues to win, which is the real reason Walker wants to scrap it. This year we saw Republican voter suppression efforts backfire, but that doesn't mean they won't try it again next election.
It's time for us to do what France is doing – and get the hell out of Afghanistan. France officially ended its combat operations in Afghanistan Tuesday – pulling out the final 500 troops still stationed in northeast Kabul. In doing so, France's Socialist President Francois Hollande is fulfilling a campaign promise he made to withdraw all combat troops out of Afghanistan by the end of the year – well ahead of other NATO allies. It's pointless for the United States to spend another two years fighting a war that at this point clearly cannot be won. Let's bring our troops home!
And finally...There are a lot of angry naked people in San Francisco. Today – city officials are meeting to discuss a new law intended to ban public nudity in the city. San Francisco has long allowed for its citizens to walk the streets in buff, but that all might change at the behest of one city councilman ironically named Scott Weiner. Weiner argues that nudity in the city has now gone "over the top" and a new law is needed to curb the indecency. If passed, nudists will be slapped with a $100 fine for the first offence and then as much as $500 and a year in prison for the third offence. One nudist in the area told Raw Story that he'll ignore the law if passed. Lloyd Fishback said, "I live in the Castro and I've been doing this since first grade. This is just a bunch of uptight Americans. But I'll still keep doing it and if I see the cops coming I will run and hide."
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, November 20, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.