In today's On the News segment: More than 200,000 jobless Americans lost their unemployment benefits on Saturday, European stocks plummet as new anti-austerity leaders struggle to form coalitions, the president's endorsement of same-sex marriage is still resonating this week, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news.
You need to know this. Europeans stocks are tumbling and investors around the world are keeping a close eye on Greece as the Euro crisis enters a new phase. On the heels of elections that ousted the pro-austerity government in Greece – new anti-austerity parties have – so far – been unable to form a coalition government. Greek President Karlos Papoulias is desperately trying to bring together party leaders for a meeting today in hopes of finding a coalition government. But, far-left SYRIZA Party leader – Alex Tsipras – is refusing to attend the meeting alongside other parties that support austerity. Neither austerity nor anti-austerity parties won enough seats in the last election to form a coalition government – meaning the President will likely have to call for a new round of elections in the coming weeks. If so, the far-left SYRIZA party will likely pick up even more seats in Parliament – making an anti-austerity coalition government a real possibility just before Greece runs out of money as early as next month. When Greece goes broke – if the new government refuses to sign on to the IMF and EU-backed austerity and bailout – then Greece will default and likely be forced out of the Eurozone. Thanks to the worldwide economic meltdown and trickle-down austerity response – the Greek economy has been in recession for the last five years. At least now – an end might be in sight – although it could get very, very painful. Meanwhile in Germany – Chancellor Angela Merkel saw her Conservative Party get crushed in state elections in the North Rhine-Westpahlian – the biggest state in Germany. Merkel has been leading the charge for austerity around Europe – but now finds herself vulnerable as support for her Party plunged to 26% - its worse result since World War 2. Everywhere you look – the supporters of trickle-down austerity are getting hammered by voters. Let's hope Americans get the message soon – and kick the Republicans pushing their own trickled-down austerity here to the curb.
In screwed news...more than 200,000 jobless Americans were cut off over the weekend from crucial unemployment benefits. Americans in California, Florida, Illinois, and several other states were kicked off the rolls Saturday – thanks to austerity legislation pushed by House-Republicans earlier this year that reduces the number of weeks of unemployment benefits someone can receive from 99 weeks down to 79 weeks. So far – more than 400,000 Americans have lost their benefits thanks to this new law. Even though the economy has slightly improved – unemployment is still disturbingly high in places like California – where more than 100,000 people lost their benefits despite unemployment at 11% in the state. And as more and more Americans lose their benefits – and no longer have money to spend and stimulate the economy – then we could be headed for another economic downturn. Of course that's exactly what the Republican Party wants – the economy to tank just before November to make President Obama look bad.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The fallout from JP Morgan Chase's two billion dollar gambling loss continues. The bank's chief investment officer announced she will step down – and sources close to the bank said that at least two more heads will roll after the bank's serious financial blunder. And now the top dog at JP Morgan Chase – CEO Jamie Dimon – may not escape this fiasco unscathed. Massachusetts Senate candidate – and consumer watchdog, Elizabeth Warren, is calling on Dimon to resign as director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In a statement to supporters, Warren wrote, "Dimon should resign from his post at the New York Fed to send a signal to the American people that Wall Street bankers get it and to show that they understand the need for responsibility and accountability." What happened at JP Morgan Chase should be a wake-up call that not nearly enough has been done following the 2008 crash rein in the banksters who won't think twice about crashing our economy again just to boost their quarterly earnings.
Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and their legal team are war criminals. So says a War Tribunal in Malaysia – which convicted Bush and key officials in his administration of war crimes on Saturday – and ordered reparations be given to the torture victims. After hearing testimony of victims who were tortured at the hands of US soldiers and contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq – the tribunal found that the United States violated international law and the principles of the Nuremberg Charter. One of those legal advisers convicted was former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo – who was recently cleared in a United States court of any torture charges. While this verdict is mostly symbolic – the tribunals plans to submit findings and records of the hearing to the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and the United Nation's Security Council. It should be troubling to Americans that other foreign nations are doing what we SHOULD be doing – holding our own war criminals to account. Time for justice to be served against the Bush torturers.
The President's big endorsement of same-sex marriage is still resonating this week. The new edition of Newsweek declared Obama the "First Gay President" – and a new CBS/New York Times poll shows the American people in support of the President's new stance. A large majority of Americans polled support some sort of legal-recognition for same-sex couples – and 38% of Americans support full marriage equality – versus 33% who don't support recognizing same-sex couples. Also – new studies show marriage equality is good for the economy – as states that have legalized same-sex marriage have seen positive economic effects thanks to more tourism, lodging, and wedding business. And according to the Congressional Budget Office – same-sex marriage could improve the federal budget by one billion each year.
And finally...Congress announced plans to hold hearings on the Secret Service so-called sex scandal. Independent Joe Lieberman is leading the distraction in the Senate – and Republican Peter King is leading it in the House. Of course – no jobs will be created by investigating the Secret Service – but it will keep the mainstream media distracted for another few news cycles from the issues that really matter.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, May 14, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.