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On the News With Thom Hartmann: US Apparel Companies Start to Rethink Their Use of Slave Labor, and More

Thursday, 02 May 2013 15:38 By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Show | News Report
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In today's On the News segment: a new poll shows that Muslims aren't the ones we should worry about - it's Republicans; congress made sure their flights won't be delayed, but they are doing nothing to help those being hit hard by Republican austerity; after several horrific factory collapses in Bangladesh, some US apparel companies are starting to rethink their use of slave labor; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...

You need to know this. While many on the Right fear monger about so-called "radical Islam," and its threat to our nation, a new poll shows that Muslims aren't the ones we should worry about. According to a survey conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University, 44 percent of self-described Republicans believe "an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties." You heard that right – nearly half of Republicans believe there may come a time to overthrow our government. And, if that wasn't concerning enough, only 31 percent of Republicans disagree that a revolution may be necessary. It's not immigrants or Muslims we need to worry about – it's the anti-government extreme right that is currently espousing conspiracy theories and stockpiling weapons. They are the real threat to our nation and to our democracy. Considering that Republicans have actively worked to fight against liberty in the areas of voting rights, women's reproductive health, and economic security, it appears the only so-called liberty they worry about is the Second Amendment. This poll essentially says that 44 percent of Republicans are willing to mount an armed insurgency against our government to protect the gun-show loophole, which allows criminals and terrorists to buy guns. This shows how conspiracy theories, like FEMA camps and the gun confiscation, really do have dangerous results. Responsible leaders in the Republican party must start working to change this, and quiet the anti-government rhetoric in their party. And right-wing talking heads need to be held accountable for the dangerous conspiracy theories they spout. It's one thing to protest, and to call for your elected leaders to represent your views...it's another to advocate armed revolution. You can't wave a flag in one hand, point a gun at your government in the other, and still call yourself patriotic.

In screwed news... Congress made sure their flights won't be delayed, but they are doing nothing to help those being hit hard by Republican austerity. The across-the-board budget cuts are slashing the funding for Meals on Wheels, a vital program that helps seniors who don't have enough money to buy food. In Contra Costa County, California, 200 fewer meals will be provided to seniors each day, and the program will put a freeze on enrolling new seniors until its rolls are reduced to a more "sustainable" level. In Lamar County, Texas, where 24 percent of the population is over the age of 60, Meals on Wheels was informed funding would soon be cut off entirely for the program. That program will be forced to rely on grants and donations to feed hungry seniors, and executive director Tanteta Moore says without it, their elderly clients "will go without food." These cuts are happening all over our nation – from New York to South Dakota to Tennessee. Yet, Congress thought it was more important to make sure travelers weren't inconvenienced by delayed flights. They need to rethink their priorities. Low-income seniors don't have lobbyists to advocate on their behalf, so it's up to us. Call Congress today, and tell them to stop putting wealthy travelers ahead of hungry seniors.

In the best of the rest of the news...

After several horrific factory collapses in Bangladesh, some U.S. apparel companies are starting to rethink their use of slave labor. Notable clothing manufacturers like Gap and Children's Place are getting together to improve working conditions, and The Walt Disney Company will halt production in Bangladesh entirely. Although less than 1% of Disney clothing contractors operate in that nation, the move is more than symbolic. Considering Disney's $40 billion in annual sales, one percent is a lot of manufactured garments . President of Disney Consumer Products Bob Chapek, said, "after much thought and discussion we felt this was the most responsible way to manage the challenges associated with our supply chain." Hopefully, other manufacturers will follow Disney's lead and give garment factories an ultimatum. Either factory owners provide better wages and safer working conditions, or companies will find factories that do. It's time to demand this slave labor come to an end. Let's stand up the companies that continue to abuse workers, and support the ones that are working to end slave labor.

Sometimes reality really does seem like science fiction. A new concept called mobile medicine will allow doctors to give patients multiple medical tests via an app on their smart phone. By hooking up a few gadgets to your smart phone, soon you may be able to get an EKG, a blood pressure test, or even a sonogram without ever having to visit your doctor's office. It may sound silly, but technology like this could help doctors bring much-needed medical care to developing countries, and could provide patients in modern nations with a way to monitor their health. Already, some of the doctors testing the new devices have experienced great results. Cardiologist Eric Topol used his smart phone EKG app to diagnose a fellow passenger with an irregular heartbeat mid-flight, preventing the plane from having to do an emergency landing. Technology is rapidly changing the world in which we live, and these new mobile medicine devices reflect some of the amazing benefits that change can bring.

And finally... Google is developing a new voice-to-text feature on it's not-yet-released "Google Glasses." And, much to the surprise of testers and early users, the feature automatically censors your favorite four-letter words. So, if you try to dictate in not-safe-for-work language, Google will replace the curse words with asterisks. Russell Holly of Geek.com was the first to notice the censorship... presumably after dictating some colorful language. He found that unlike similar features in other voice-to-text software, Google does not provide an option to remove the censorship. As the product is still in development, its possible that they will update the software to allow uncensored salty language, but for now, it looks like Google voice-to-text remains PG. I can't help but wonder how many product testers sat around cursing like sailors to test the newly-discovered feature.

And that's the way it is today – Thursday, May 2, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture,  syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations.  You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.


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