In today's On the News segment: 600 Canadian activists rallied to protest tar sands on Saturday, Komen enlists former Bush press secretary for “crisis communications,” DC's Park Police raid Occupy encampment there, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The nation’s oldest occupation suffered a blow this weekend as DC Park Police raided and evicted most of Occupy DC’s encampment in McPherson Square on Saturday. Just before dawn, dozens of officers in riot gear, on horseback, and in HAZMAT suits moved into the camp, then disassembled and trashed tents that they said were “not in compliance” with park rules. While the police claim that the weekend’s events were not an eviction, and did leave some tents behind, it’s clear that Occupy DC is now just a shell of the vibrant community it used to be. During the weekend confrontation with police, more than a dozen occupiers were arrested with reports that one of them threw a brick at a police officer. Of course, if reports are true, violence has no place in this movement that has already accomplished so much around the world and should be challenged by the movement itself. In the same vein, violence also has no place in our police forces that are supposed to protect and serve, not silence and brutalize.
All 50 Attorneys General across the nation have until today to decide if they’re going to sign on to a settlement with the nation’s biggest banks to let banksters off the criminal hook for widespread fraud committed on Wall Street during the financial crisis. The settlement – which is against the biggest of the big banks like JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo – is worth $25 billion – which is chump change compared to the real damage they've done to the American middle class – where over $7 trillion in wealth has vanished. By agreeing to the settlement, Attorneys General will waive their right to pursue further criminal investigations on Wall Street – meaning no banksters will see a jail cell. George Goehl, the executive director of National People’s Action, slammed the deal saying, “People are very disappointed in … this …We’re giving away the store.” While most states want to take the settlement – California is still holding out and reserving the right to launch its own investigations. And in New York, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed suit last week against JP Morgan, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo over improper foreclosure practices. “We the people” need to make sure any deal that doesn’t include jail time for Wall Street’s criminals and doesn’t force the banks to refinance the exploding mortgages they bilked customers into buying – is rejected outright.
In the best of the rest of the news…
President Obama made his case on Sunday for why he deserves a second term in the White House. Speaking in an interview with NBC before the Super Bowl, the President touted progress on the economy – arguing that when he took office more than 750,000 jobs were being lost a month – and now – 250,000 jobs are being created a month. According to the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll – President Obama holds a 51% to 45% lead over Mitt Romney in a hypothetical matchup. While the economy will still play a major role in the upcoming election, it’s looking more and more likely that SuperPACs could play the biggest role. In that arena, where rich guys and corporations can give millions secretly, expect the Republican nominee to have a huge advantage when it comes to outside corporate cash and SuperPACs polluting the airwaves with lies and slander. We’re on the verge of a two-billion dollar election – and our democracy will be worse off as a result.
As Republicans across the nation use the phony rubric of “voter fraud” to wage a war against millions of poor and minority voters, knocking them off the voting rolls – one of their own was just convicted of…voter fraud. Voter fraud is extremely rare – more people are struck by lightning every year than commit voter fraud. But on Friday – a jury found Indiana Republican Secretary of State Charlie White guilty of six counts of voter fraud, perjury, and theft. Ironically – White was one of the leading proponents of an Indiana voter ID law claiming it was needed “to ensure our elections are fair and protect the most basic and precious right and responsibility of our democracy-voting.” Based on their actions – it’s pretty clear Republicans don’t care about voter fraud, they care about winning elections by knocking as many Democratic voters off the voter roles as they can. It’s not a Republican war against fraud – it’s a Republican war against democracy.
The growing rift between world powers to the east and west widened this weekend as China and Russia joined forces to veto a UN Security Council Resolution condemning Syria and its ongoing violent repression of the 11-month long citizen uprising. They were the only two nations to veto the resolution, which came just hours after one of the most violent crackdowns so far in Syria that left hundreds of people dead. American UN Ambassador Susan Rice was outraged after the vote – arguing that China and Russia “put a stake in the heart of efforts to resolve this conflict peacefully.” According to the United Nations, more than 5,400 people have died so far during the Syrian uprisings.
Canada is dealing with a pipeline controversy of its own. More than 600 environmentalists and concerned Canadians rallied on Saturday in British Colombia against a proposed tar sands oil pipeline in their community. Tar sands are one of the most toxic forms of fuel in the world, and the new pipeline would transport the poison from Alberta to the BC coast. Opponents of the pipeline argue spills are inevitable and will do unthinkable damage to their local communities. Meanwhile, oil barons in Canada are touting the economic benefits of such a pipeline – claiming it will boost Canada’s GDP by $270 billion. Unclear if those numbers are as wildly exaggerated as the ones proposed by the oil barons in the United States debate over the Keystone XL pipeline.
And finally…the Susan G. Komen charity confirmed it has enlisted the help of former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleishcer for “crisis communications” after the Planned Parenthood defunding debacle last week. Clearly, Fleischer has had a lot of on-job training for similar “crisis communications.”
And that’s the way it is today – February 6th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.