In today’s On the News segment: Sixty-five years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed; according to experts, Japan is not capable of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant without outside help; Pope Francis is taking on right-wing American pundits; and more.
Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Sixty-five years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed. The Declaration was drafted by the United Nations, and chaired by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. The goal of the Declaration was to strive for "inherent dignity" and "equal and inalienable rights [for] all members of the human family." But, many people in our nation are being denied these basic human rights. Wealth inequality and inhumane austerity measures have benefited the wealthy, while denying most of us an equal chance at a life of dignity. Poverty wages, staggering student loan debt, the foreclosure crisis, and the slashing of our social safety net – have all left the super rich unharmed, while weakening our universal human rights to own property, escape servitude, and experience real freedom. We cannot be truly free when we are fighting for basic necessities, or trapped in an abusive job just so that we can pay our student loans. To make matters worse, disastrous free trade agreements and fiscal legislation have locked in low tax rates for the wealthy and cemented these inhumane policies in place for the future. These basic rights were bestowed upon us by our Fore Fathers, and confirmed again in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, yet they have been eroded, and they continue to get weakened every day. And, the fight to regain these inalienable rights will not be easy. Americans must recognize that their basic human rights are being taken away, and that they deserve to be free from crushing debt and poverty wages. We must work together to prove that the words "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness" were not just poetry, but basic human rights that we deserve.
In screwed news... According to experts, Japan is not capable of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant without outside help. Nuclear watchdog groups are calling for a "global takeover" of the process to protect the planet. Nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman and veteran nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen said, "Neither Tokyo Electric nor the government of Japan can go [at] this along. There is no excuse for deploying anything less than a coordinated team of the planet's best scientists and engineers." These experts believe that the process of taking the plant offline is simply too big, and too complicated for a single nation – let alone a single power company – to handle the massive risk alone. Just the process of removing spent fuel rods put billions of lives in danger, and that is only one small part of decommissioning Fukushima. For the safety of planet, the world must come together and help Japan decommission this dangerously crippled nuclear power plant.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Pope Francis is taking on right-wing American pundits. The Pope has rejected claims that he is a Marxist, but he's not backing down from his stance against capitalism. He said, "The ideology of Marxism is wrong. But, I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don't feel offended." He also explained once again why he does not support the theory of "trickle-down" economics, saying, "There was the promise that once the glass had become full it would overflow and the poor would benefit. But, what happens is that when it's full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing ever comes out for the poor." Three decades ago, we were promised that once the very wealthy had enough, they would share those riches, create good-paying jobs, and our entire economy with benefit. What we saw – just as Pope Francis explained – is that the super rich will never think they have enough. The Right can try to marginalize the Pope by calling him a Marxist, but millions of people around the world aren't buying it, and they'll support Pope Francis for speaking truth about "trickle-down."
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are spiking all around our nation, and we don't have a clear reason why it's happening. Neat the East coast, Taylors, South Carolina is averaging 41 counts per minute, with spikes all the way up to 103. In the Midwest, Lakewood, Colorado is sitting at 58, with spikes of 89, and Frederic, Wisconsin is hovering at 47, with peaks of 70. In the Southwest, Taos, New Mexico is averaging 73 counts per minute, and Tucson, Arizona is sitting at 50, with spikes of 88. The Northwest is slightly calmer, but still rising – with Portland, Oregon averaging 33, with highs of 56 counts per minute. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they are working hard to keep us informed.
And finally... Over the past few holiday seasons, we've heard stories of strangers paying off layaway accounts for needy families. Well, this year may top them all. One man in Florida paid off $20,000 dollars worth of layaway bills for struggling families he has never even met. Greg Paraday walked into a Walmart store with a friend, and overheard a woman worried about paying off her account by Christmas. So, Mr. Paraday walked up, paid her bill, and proceeded to pay off every layaway account that owed more than $200 dollars. He said he never intended to attract any attention for his random act of kindness, but he hopes that others will pass it on and give generously in their own way.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, December 16, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky, in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.