Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
Postal workers are screwed. The United States Postal Service announced it would be closing 223 mail-processing plants around the nation – which could lead to more than 35,000 layoffs. It’s all part of a plan by the cash-strapped Postal Service to save $20 billion over the next 3 years. Of course – the real story that the mainstream media refuses to cover in regard to the Postal Service – is that these layoffs – plus more to come later – are a result of a poison pill that a Republican Congress and George W. Bush forced the Postal Service to take back in 2006. That pill required the Postal Service to pre-fund retiree health benefits 75 years into the future – something that no other business or government agency has to do – costing the Postal Service $5 billion a year. So why do Republicans want to close down the Postal Service? Because it’s got a half-million unionized workers. This is nothing more than another front in the war against unions – and tragically it could lead to the end of an American Institution – the United States Postal Service, created by Benjamin Franklin and killed by George Bush.
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More and more Americans are moving back to the slums. According to a new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation – nearly 8 million children in America are living in high-poverty areas. That’s a 20% increase since 2000 – following a decade of decreasing poverty rates during the 90’s. So maybe instead of protecting the tax cuts of banksters and oil barons whose mansions are in gated communities – Republicans should focus on how we can take children out of poverty and give them a shot at the American Dream. Clearly – a decade of Bushonomics – aka Reaganomics on steroids – did nothing but kick more and more Americans out of the middle class.
Amnesty International is exposing the dark – and often forgotten – side of our war in Afghanistan. A new report by the humanitarian group sheds light on the plight of hundreds of thousands of Afghan civilians who’ve been displaced as a result of our decade-long war. With 400 civilians being displaced a day – more than a half million Afghans are now on the verge of starving to death – and nearly two-dozen Afghan children froze to death just in January. These are the consequences of not just a misguided war – but war in general – and should give us pause when we hear politicians so eager to invade another country.
Public schools are under attack in the city of Chicago. Working with Mayor Rahm Emanuel – the Chicago Public School board is moving forward with plans to close or “turn around” 17 public schools in the city. By “turning around” a school – the school board will fire all teachers and administrators at the school and put it on a path toward privatization. Despite a flood of parents, students, teachers, and activists turning up at the school board meeting on Thursday and expressing their outrage at the decision – their voices were ignored. Study after study has shown that private school do not produce better educational results, but do force low-income families to shell out big bucks to educate their children – for what should be a free service as part of our commons, just as Thomas Jefferson imagined it more than 200 years ago. From privatizing prisons – to privatizing schools – corporate America is eating us alive.
There was a huge victory on Thursday for women in Virginia. The controversial “Personhood” legislation that would have defined life as beginning at conception thus banning abortion and outlawing contraceptives was effectively killed in the Virginia state Senate yesterday. The legislation also included a provision to force women to have a highly intrusive transvaginal probe before undergoing an abortion procedure. But with the state Senate sending the bill back to Committee – there’s no chance it can be brought back up for a vote until after the current 2012 legislative session is over. But hold off on the celebrations – similar personhood legislation is being considered in other states including Alabama, Mississippi, and Wisconsin. Let’s keep standing up for the rights of women across America.
Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s recent veto of a same-sex marriage law – the movement to bring equal rights to all Americans continues. On Thursday – the Maryland State Senate approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage – following in the footsteps of the Maryland House of Delegates, which approved the legislation last week. Democratic Governor Martin O’Malley has promised to sign the bill into law making Maryland the eighth state in the nation – plus Washington, DC – to legalize same-sex marriage – and the first state on the East coast south of the Mason-Dixon line to do it.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, February 24th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.