In today's On the News segment: Republicans have no shame when it comes to refusing help for those in need; thousands rallied around our nation yesterday to urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform; Progressives and Tea Party members have found something to agree on – their opposition to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act; and more.
Jim Javinsky here – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Yesterday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. As expected, both supporters and opponents of the toxic tar sands project stood their ground in testimony about the effects of completing the pipeline. Environmentalist groups, like the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned of dangers presented by Keystone XL, and cited the recent spill in Arkansas as a prime example of what could go wrong. An executive from TransCanada Inc. described the so-called safety features of Keystone, and it's potential role in North American energy independence. The main purpose of the hearing was to consider implementing legislation, which would force the federal government to approve the final construction of the pipeline. And, it appears that Republicans have teamed up with the premier of Canada to lobby Washington to okay the plan. Representative Lee Terry of Nebraska said, "we need to cement our relationship with our best trading partner and friend in Canada, and secure our national security interests and energy interests by approving this pipeline." But, our relationship with Canada shouldn't hinge on the Obama Administration allowing toxic tar sands to be pumped through our communities. The recent Arkansas spill shows exactly what can happen to a community when this toxic sludge gets unleashed on the environment. We must stand together to prevent the contamination of even more communities. We must fight to protect our homes, and our environment. Join the fight at TarsandsBlockade.org.
In screwed news... Republicans have no shame when it comes to refusing help for those in need. Last month, Gov. Paul LePage of Maine held a mandatory meeting with several Labor Department employees, who he says decide too many jobless-benefit claims in favor of workers. During the meeting, LePage complained that hearing officers weren't doing their jobs, and said that more appeals should be ruled in favor of employers. According to The Bangor Daily News, agency worker said they felt "abused, harassed and bullied by LePage's tone and rhetoric," and they fear losing their jobs if more appeals aren't found to favor employers. In addition to being illegal political interference in the hearing process, Governor LePage's actions are deplorable. As our economy struggles, more people find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. Denying them the vital financial assistance they need to survive – just so you can be deemed "pro-business" - is as low as it gets.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Yesterday, thousands rallied around our nation to urge Congress to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Events were held from coast to coast, with the largest rally taking place in Washington, D.C.. Participants say immigration reform is a matter of moral and social justice. They want the government to stop it's routine deportations, and create a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in our nation. Because of the recent bipartisan push for immigration reform, immigrants and activists may finally see their goal become a reality. It's long-passed time to fix our broken immigration system, and streamline the archaic process of becoming an American citizen. People come to our nation for a better life, and yet we make it nearly impossible to achieve that once they get here. It's time for that to change.
Progressives and Tea Party members have found something to agree on – their opposition to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act. The provision, which exempts the biotech giant from judicial review, was snuck into the recent Senate Budget bill, and has been signed into law by the President. This new provision is a blatant effort to shield Monsanto from the law, but a new Food and Water Watch report highlights even more ways Monsanto has avoided regulatory scrutiny over the years. According to the report, Monsanto's board members have worked directly for the Food and Drug Administration, advised the Department of Agriculture, and even served on President Obama's Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. Talk about the fox watching the hen house. Monsanto has used these positions to influence public policy and opinion, and to pressure lawmakers into turning a blind eye to their monopolistic practices. It's time to demand that Congress stops letting Monsanto dictate it's own regulations. They must repeal the Monsanto Protection Act, break up the agricultural monopoly, and get each and every former Monsanto employee out of our government agencies.
And finally... What do you do when your dog eats five $100 dollar bills? According to one Montana man – ask the federal government to replace them. Wayne Klinkel left his golden retriever, Sundance, and 500 dollars in cash sitting in the car for just a few moments, but when he returned, all that was left was one half of a 100 dollar bill. Klinkel refused to accept that the money was gone forever, and followed his dog around for days with a pair of rubber gloves and plastic baggies. He collected several pieces of each of the bills, thoroughly washed them, and taped them back together. He then asked several local banks to replace the bills, but they referred him to the U.S. Treasury Department. Now, Mr. Klinkel is waiting for the agency to review his claim, and issue him a check. It can be extremely dangerous to leave pets in a car unattended, and apparently for Wayne Klinkel, it can also be quite expensive.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, April 11, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.