In today's On the News segment: Oakland police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets to put down the Occupy Oakland movement, college is getting more and more expensive in America, commission concludes that as much as $60 billion was misspent in Iraq and Afghanistan, California state lawmakers are asking why there is a crackdown on medical marijuana, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. For a second night in a row – Oakland police resorted to tear gas and rubber bullets to put down the Occupy Oakland movement – which refuses to step down. Late last night – officers in riot gear confronted hundreds of Occupy Oakland demonstrators in front of City Hall – and used canisters of tear gas to clear the crowd. That was just the beginning though – as demonstrators reconvened after each clash with police – only to be dispersed again by more tear gas and rubber bullets. The cat and mouse game between Occupy Oakland and police lasted throughout the night. There are reports that 10 demonstrators had to be treated for wounds after being shot by rubber bullets. Oakland police are defending their use of force – force that looks like a military operation – by claiming demonstrators were hurling rocks and bottles at them. Oakland mayor Jean Quan – who was in Washington, DC last night – rushed home as unrest hit the streets in his city. And despite two straight days of violent police crackdowns, Occupy Oakland demonstrators are vowing not to go anywhere. Meanwhile – in Atlanta – police cleared Woodruff Park in the middle of the night – the site of Occupy Atlanta for the last two weeks. Several people were arrested – and it’s still unclear why police stepped in to break up what has been a peaceful occupation for more than 15 days. There seems to be a concerted effort by law enforcement around the nation to put an end to the Occupy Movement – and they may find some success with arrests and shutdowns. But they won’t find success trying to kill off an IDEA.
College is getting more and more expensive in America. According to a new report by the College Board – average tuition at public universities across the nation spiked more than 8% last year. The price hike for a college education will only make the current student loan debt crisis in America worse. This year – as more and more college graduates can’t find jobs – total outstanding student loan debt is expected to top one trillion dollars for the first time in this nation’s history. As part of his “We Can’t Wait” campaign – President Obama is expected to put in place an executive order to give modest debt-relief to more than 5.8 million American students. However – Republicans in Congress – who don’t seem to care that our nation’s future engineers, scientists, and teachers are going broke while other developed nations send their kids to college for free – are busy further CUTTING Federal Pell Grant programs that help students pay for college. As House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan recently said – if you want to go to college – you just have to work 3 jobs while you’re there.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Curious how much money was stolen in Iraq and Afghanistan – and who stole it? Well, you’re going to have to wait 20 years to find out. After working for three years – a Congressional Commission – known as the Commission on War Time Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan – just finished its report on how much money the government wasted or was stolen by defense contractors in our decade-long wars. The Commission concluded that as much as $60 billion was misspent in both wars. But we’ll never get to know which defense contractors screwed taxpayers because the commission decided to seal their report – classifying to for the next 20 years. Citing “sensitive information” – the public will not be able to view the report until 2031. So – if you walk into a California 7/11 and steal a Slurpee – and it’s your third offense – you go to jail for life. But if you rob the government of $60 billion – not only do you not face punishment – but you keep the money and it gets swept under the rug. Welcome to our two-tiered criminal justice system.
If lawmakers really care about the deficit – then why the crackdown on medical marijuana? That’s a question several California state lawmakers are asking after the Justice Department pledged to shut down medical marijuana dispensaries in California if they don’t close up shop within the next 45 days. California Assemblymember Tom Ammiano said, “This destructive attack on medical marijuana patients is a waste of limited law enforcement resources and will cost the state millions in tax revenue and harm countless lives.” Not only that – Americans around the nation favor legalization of marijuana now more than ever. According to a recent Gallup poll – a majority of American – more than 50% - support legalization – up 14% from five years ago. It’s time to end Richard Nixon’s disastrous War on Drugs.
A bankster may be going to jail. Former Goldman Sachs director Raja Gupta is expected to turn himself into authorities today on charges of insider trading. Gupta is suspected of being the guy who leaked corporate secrets to fellow bankster Raj Rajaratnam who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for illegal trading. Neither man faced charges for their role in the financial crisis – not a single bankster has gone to jail for that, yet. Regardless – in today’s financialized world – anytime a bankster gets busted it’s worth mentioning. IF anyone is keeping score – more than 2,400 demonstrators with Occupy Wall Street have been arrested over the last month. How many banksters? Two.
The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee passed legislation yesterday to force states to recognize other state’s gun permit laws. Under the new bill - states with strict regulations on who can carry guns – like New York and California – will have to give up their state laws and recognize the rights of individuals from other – less strict – states to carry guns. The bill essentially creates a race to the bottom for gun laws in America. So I guess Republicans are for state’s rights – except when the NRA pays them not to be.
Mitt Romney puts the flop in flip-flop. Speaking to voters in Ohio yesterday – Romney ditched his support for Senate Bill 5 – a harsh anti-union bill passed by Republicans and Governor John Kasich earlier in the year that is heading for repeal next month at the hands of the voters. Romney was an outspoken advocate of SB-5 over the summer saying he “stands with Governor John Kasich…on this important fight.” SB-5 has never been popular among voters – but now that those who are opposed to it are headed for a political victory – Romney stuck his finger in the wind and refused to support it – joining the majority of voters so far. Heck, by the time this race is over – Romney may be a progressive.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, October 26th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.