In today's On the News segment: Rise in "justifiable homicide" cases involving the "Stand Your Ground" law, former Greek prime minister speaks out against austerity, the US's unprecedented deportation rate of foreign nationals, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The economy added 120,000 jobs in March. Though the number was lower than expected – the unemployment rate dropped to 8.2% - the lowest level in more than three years. Plus, this is the 25th straight month of private sector job creation on President Obama's watch. Despite modest job gains – our economy still needs major structural reform if it hopes to ever get back to the powerhouse economy that it once was. That includes rolling back the Reagan tax cuts, ditching so-called Free Trade, and making a massive New Deal-like investments in building a 21st century infrastructure. Unfortunately – Republicans in Congress - who want to hurt Obama by making the economy worse - are blocking these necessary reforms.
Americans who don't want be murdered by a handgun are screwed. A new report by the British newspaper The Guardian finds that there's been a huge increase in so-called "justifiable homicides" across America, thanks in part to the new ALEC-written Stand Your Ground – or shoot first – laws. Since Florida became the first state to pass a Stand Your Ground law back in 2005 – and was then followed by 20 other states passing similar laws – the number of so-called justifiable homicides across the nation has gone up 25%. The Stand Your Ground law is at the center of the controversy surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida – and is the main reason why the shooter, George Zimmerman, is still walking around as a free man. As Dan Gross – the President of the Brady Campaign - said about this new study, "This research demonstrates a fundamental point. Stand-your-ground laws are dangerous on their own as a mentality. But when combined with weak gun laws they become a recipe for tragedy." The number of justifiable homicides by police officers is also up across the nation – meaning cops are also adopting a shoot-first mentality. After a decade of Republicans and the military/police complex convincing Americans that we have to be scared to death of countless threats – too many of us have all gone crazy and are now shooting each other. It's time to return to our roots – as the home of the brave – not the home of the frightened and trigger-happy.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Corporate donors to the Koch brothers-funded right-wing think thank known as the American Legislative Exchange Council – or ALEC – are dropping like flies. On Thursday – Kraft became the third major corporation to part ways with ALEC – joining Coca-Cola and Pepsi. ALEC sponsors were put on notice this week, when the organization Color for Change called for a boycott of all companies that give money to ALEC. The group is protesting ALEC-written right-wing Voter ID laws that disenfranchise minority voters, as well as Stand Your Ground laws that increase minority deaths. Despite three corporations jumping ship in response to the boycott – several others like Wal Mart, Pfizer, and Reynolds are sticking by ALEC so that ALEC can continue laundering their influence-buying money for Republican state lawmakers. Time to ramp up the pressure and boycott corporations that are stealing our democracy.
The White House turned in their homework assignment yesterday to fifth circuit court Judge Jerry Smith. On Wednesday – Judge Smith demanded the administration write a 3-page single-spaced letter outlining the President's views on judicial review – the idea that courts can strike down laws passed by Congress and signed by the President if the court thinks that the law violates the Constitution. The Department of Justice obliged, and turned in a 3-page letter – making it clear that the President does acknowledge judicial review. What the President and the courts fail to realize is that judicial review shouldn't exist. It's not written in our Constitution – and it was a power stolen by the High Court way back in its 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision. As long as the Supreme Court can strike down laws passed by our elected Representatives – then we don't really have a democracy. We have monarchy – with nine kings in black robes deciding what are and what aren't the laws.
A few days after a retiree walked up to the Greek Parliament building and shot himself in the head to protest trickle-down austerity measures – the ousted Prime Minister of Greece is speaking out against trickle-down austerity as well. Last fall – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou was kicked out of office and replaced by a bankster when he called for a nationwide referendum to let the Greek people vote to decide if they wanted to take more trickle-down austerity measures in exchange for a bailout. Now – in an interview with the Huffington Post – Papandreou slammed ongoing austerity, saying they are creating a "vicious cycle" of recessions by cutting spending – thus leading to slow growth – and lower revenue coming into the government. He's right – trickle-down austerity is Voodoo economics – and it's causing enormous pain and suffering for Greece, which has seen its suicide rate jump 40% since the age of austerity began.
The cold-hearted approach to immigration reform that Conservatives want – is actually being practiced every day in America. According to a new report by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement – more than 46,000 parents of U.S. citizens were deported in just six month between January and June of 2011. This unprecedented rate of deportations is breaking up families and leaving tens of thousands of American children without parents and forced to grow up in foster care. President Obama has done more to crack down on illegal immigration than any other president, although right-wingers lie about his record and want more and more families broken up. And, tragically – this sort of crackdown is leading to enormous pain and suffering.
And, finally...according to a new study by the Pew Research Center – 50 million Americans age 16 and over don't read books anymore. While the study found that the average American now reads 17 books a year – thanks in large part to e-readers – a fifth of the population doesn't read at all. That's the highest number since the survey on American reading habits started in 1978. Unfortunately, America is quickly becoming no country for authors.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, April 06, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.