In today's On the News segment: The American Civil Liberties Union joins the fight against the voter purge in Florida, GOP subcommittee nixes new FCC guideline requiring major TV stations to disclose online who funds political ads they air, civil rights commission to study evidence of racial bias in "shoot first" laws, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. One of the biggest dominos in Europe is about to fall. On Saturday – Spain's Finance Minister announced his country would become the fourth Eurozone nation to have to take a bailout to stay afloat. Reports suggest that the Spanish bailout could cost as much as 100 billion euros, but will likely not come with tough new austerity measures since Spain has already passed harsh spending cuts to rein in its deficit, and that step has only made the problem worse. The Spanish austerity agenda has increased unemployment to over 24% - the highest in the Eurozone – and now put a bailout on the table when just ten days ago – Spain's Prime Minister said his country would not need a bailout. Immediately after the announcement – Greece's anti-bailout SYRIZA Party leader – Alexis Tsipiras – slammed current euro economic policies saying, "Developments in Spain confirm the position that we have maintained from the start. Namely, that the crisis is a pan-European problem and that the way it has been dealt with until now has been completely ineffective and socially disastrous." Not only that – the EU's insistence on austerity may collapse the union altogether. As a Spanish government insider told the Guardian newspaper, "If Spain falls, the euro falls. There is not enough money at the IMF and in the European rescue funds to bail out the Spanish state." This is just more proof that Republican austerity measures like those pushed by Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor not only destroy economies but are insane?
In screwed news...Indiana's Republican Governor Mitch Daniels wants to take the war on working people to another level. Governor Daniels – whose name has been thrown around as a potential VP pick – went on Fox News Sunday to say that government would be better off without public sector unions. In other words – he thinks that cops, teachers, and firefighters shouldn't enjoy the better wages and benefits that come with a union job. Back in 2005 – in one of his first acts as Governor – Daniels eliminated all collective bargaining rights for government workers. And now – one week after Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin escaped a recall election for doing the same thing – expect more Republicans to ramp up their attacks on those Americans who educate us, who protect our safety, and who put the fires out.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The American Civil Liberties Union is now joining the effort to stop Florida Governor Rick Scott's purge of Democratic voters. On Friday – the ACLU filed suit against the state on behalf of two American citizens who were targeted by Scott's voter purge. As a staff attorney with the ACLU said in regard to the lawsuit, "States should not compromise citizens' fundamental right to vote by conducting illegal voter purges that disproportionately impact minorities...Such measures are not only illegal, but undermine our democracy by keeping people from participating in the political process." The Department of Justice is also expected to take action after the state refused to comply with a DOJ request last week to stop the voter purge, which is in violation of the Voter Registration Act and the Voting Rights Act.
Every politicians talks about how our elections need more transparency – but when Republicans finally had a chance to inject some transparency into who's spending money in our election – they voted no. On Friday – Republicans on a House Appropriations subcommittee unanimously voted "no" on a new FCC guideline that would have required major TV stations to post online the funders of political ads that are aired on their stations. The Republican Chairman of the Committee – Hal Rogers – argued that he didn't want to add to the workload of multi-million-dollar TV stations. So, once again – Americans will be in the dark this year on who is dumping huge amounts of money to support their local politicians – it could be the Chamber of Commerce, it could be the Koch brothers, or it could be Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. And TV stations don't care either – thanks to the billions they're set to make this year on SuperPAC advertising.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is taking a close look at "Shoot First" laws after numerous studies show there's a racial bias inherent in the law. For example – an FBI study found that, "34% of cases involving a white shooter killing a black person were deemed as a justifiable homicide. Meanwhile, in similar situations, when the shooter was black and the victim was white, the homicide was ruled justifiable only 3.3% of the time." In other words – the Shoot First laws are a licence for white people to kill black people, but not the other way around. The Committee is expected to release its finding within a year – too late to stop more murders of blacks by whites, while the rate of so-called justifiable homicides continues to explode in America since these laws – written by corporate gun sellers like WalMart and the NRA – were passed. Another example of corporate corruption of our legislators leading to the death of Americans.
And finally...momentum is building to ditch the war on marijuana in America. Rhode Island will likely become the 15th state in the nation to decriminalize marijuana possession – after that state's House and Senate voted to replace a penalty of jail time for possession of marijuana with a simple $150 civil fine. Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee said he intends to sign the legislation into law. A Rasmussen survey last month found that a record-high 56% of Americans support legalizing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. And a Gallup poll last year found that support for marijuana legalization in America has doubled since the 1990's. This news bodes well for drug reformers in California, Washington, and Colorado – as all three states will hold referendums in November to legalize and regulate marijuana. Richard Nixon's drug was as been an abysmal failure for the country – and is only being continued today to fuel profits for the private prison industry. Time to legalize pot – one of the best medicines and safest recreational drugs out there.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, June 11, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.