In today's On the News segments: Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away; Walmart is raking in tons of corporate welfare; the Republican Party admits it is failing to connect with young people; new research shows that 76 percent of doctors in the US would prescribe medical marijuana to a fictional 68-year-old female patient with cancer; and more.
You need to know this. Yesterday, Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg passed away, after months of ailing health. The New Jersey Senator was 89, and he was the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate. Throughout his five terms in office, Senator Lautenberg was a champion for progressive issues. He fought for causes ranging from women's health to LGBT equality to ending the subsidies for Big Oil. Senator Lautenberg helped to secure financial assistance for low-income HIV/AIDS patients, he wrote the Responsible Education about Life Act, which provides funding for comprehensive sex education, and he was an original cosponsor of the Family and Medical Leave Act. Now, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and state lawmakers are sorting through that state's election laws, to figure out the process for filling Senator Lautenberg's seat. On Tuesday, Governor Christie asserted that he does have the right to appoint a replacement that would hold Senator Lautenberg's seat until 2014, however the governor announced that he is calling for a special election. He commented that it is proper for the people of the State of New Jersey to choose who will represent them in the Senate. Under New Jersey Law, Governor Christie had the option of appointing a temporary place holder to fill the seat, or call for a special election to let the voters decide. In addition, there was a debate as to whether an appointee would only be in office until this November, or would remain in the Senate until the end of Senator Lautenberg's term in 2014. Many have noted the politically difficult position Governor Christie was put in with this vacancy. It appears that he opted to spite the GOP, and instead, curry favor with the voters who will decide whether or not he gets a second term in his reelection bid later this year.
In screwed news... Walmart is raking in tons of corporate welfare. Just one store, in one town, can cost taxpayers more than $900,000 dollars a year. A combination of low wages and part-time schedules, leave workers dependent on social programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and section 8 housing – all of which are being paid for with our tax dollars. A new study released by Democrats in Congress pieced together all of the public-assistance programs that Walmart workers rely on, and found that, "when low wages leave Walmart workers unable to afford the necessities of life, taxpayers pick up the tab." You and I are subsidizing Walmart, so that the retail giant can hoard profits, and continue paying wages that no one can actually live on. If one store costs taxpayers nearly a million dollars a year, the combined cost from more than 3600 Walmart stores in the U.S. could be astronomical.
In the best of the rest of the news...
By the GOP's own assessment, the Republican Party is failing to connect with young people. A new report released by the College Republican National Committee detailed the major challenges facing the party, and stated that younger voters disagree with many GOP policies. According to the report, young people simply don't agree with the Republicans' obsession with lowering taxes and limiting a woman's right to choose. The researchers also found that young voters supported universal health care, marriage equality, comprehensive immigration reform, and increasing taxes on the wealthy. And, for the most part, they blame GOP policies for the recession. Overall, the report did not appear promising for the future of the Republican party. The question is, can the GOP embrace the future, or will the party go the way of the Whigs?
Overwhelmingly, doctors agree about the medicinal benefits of pot. According to a new survey in the New England Journal of Medicine, 76 percent of doctors in the U.S. would prescribe medical marijuana to a fictional 68-year-old female patient with cancer. Internationally, 78 percent of doctors surveyed would also prescribe marijuana. The survey's authors wrote, "Many [respondents] pointed out the known dangers of prescription narcotics, supported patient choice, or described personal experience with patients who benefited from the use of marijuana." As the Think Progress Blog notes, medical marijuana is a promising treatment option for cancer patients, because of its ability to ease pain, relieve nausea, and stimulate appetite. Despite 19 states recognizing the benefits of medicinal pot, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. Together, doctors and activists will continue to fight to end Nixon's failed drug war, and allow patients to utilize this natural medicine.
And finally... Last week, New Yorkers celebrated the start of that city's first bike-share program. However, not everyone is happy that citizens will have convenient access to a healthier form of transportation. Just days after the program was debuted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials, a video featuring Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, was posted to the Wall Street Journal's website – and it quickly went viral. In the video, Rabinowitz snapped at the interviewer for asking about the bike-share program, and ominously warned that, "the bike lobby is an all powerful enterprise." We're not quite sure what Ms. Rabinowitz means by that, but perhaps she's confusing the "bike lobby" with "oil lobby."
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, June 4, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.