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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Single-Payer Health Care Could Help Save Cash-Strapped States, and More

In today's On the News Segment: Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Oakland yesterday

In today's On the News Segment: Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Oakland yesterday, an Associated Press report says there are now more than 20 million Americans living well below the poverty line, your cash-strapped state can save money by switching to a single-payer health care system, federal authorities arrested four men in Georgia Tuesday who were plotting to commit terrorism – but since they weren't Muslims – there's little coverage of the threat, Republicans are protecting BP, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Tens of thousands of people flooded the streets of Oakland yesterday to participate in Occupy Oakland’s call for a general strike. Banks, businesses and schools across the city shutdown – with about one-fifth of the city’s teachers skipping school to participate in the strike – the first of its kind in a major city in 65 years. As evening fell, roughly ten thousand patriots marched to the Port of Oakland. The peaceful crowd blocked all the entrances – and then mounted containers, cranes, and trucks – forcing the nation’s fifth busiest port and a major entry point for imported Asian-manufactured goods to shut down for the night. But after the crowd dispersed and went home – the streets of Oakland were again turned into a warzone as a small group of protestors set a fire in the middle of the street. After midnight – tear gas canisters and flash bangs were deployed by police to disperse the crowds – putting a tumultuous cap on a peaceful day of action. Seattle, New York, and Washington, DC – as well as several other cities – held solidarity marches with Occupy Oakland as well yesterday. America is beginning to look like Europe, with young people in open revolt against a system that only benefits the top 1 percent.

While the rich are getting richer, the ranks of the poor are growing. According to a new AP report – there are now more than 20 million Americans living well below the poverty line. These Americans – defined as the poorest of the poor – live on 50% or less of the official poverty level. And 20 million is the highest number ever recorded since the Census bureau started compiling this data 35 years ago. Forty states around the nation saw an increase in the number of extremely poor people since 2007 – with the highest jumps in Nevada and Florida. This is a national crisis – yet today – Republicans in the Senate will filibuster to block another part of President Obama’s Jobs Act that would have put 450,000 Americans back to work rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure. Instead of looking out for the 20 million impoverished Americans who desperately need a good paying job – Republicans will vote to protect people who take home more than a million dollars a year from a less than one percent tax increase.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Want to know how your cash-strapped state can save money? By switching to a single-payer health care system. Vermont’s plans to craft a single-payer system received a boost yesterday when a new report by the Legislative Joint Fiscal Office found that the state will save as much as $1.8 billion over the next decade by shifting to single-payer health care. According to the report – under such a system – there’s less money needed for fraud reduction programs, administrative costs, and clinical reforms, and nothing skimmed off by the fat-cat insurance industry CEOs. So not only is it far more humane to ensure that every citizen has a right to basic healthcare – it’s far more fiscally sound as well.

Federal authorities arrested 4 men in Georgia Tuesday who were plotting to commit terrorism. But since they weren’t Muslims – there’s little coverage of the threat. The men belonged to a fringe militia group planning to attack government officials with guns, explosives and toxic ricin. According to the FBI criminal complaint – the group was inspired to commit violence by a book written by Mike Vanderboegh – who’s been featured on Fox so-called News – and has hyped the Justice Department’s so-called Fast and Furious scandal. Vanderboegh’s book tells a story of small militia groups starting a civil war against the federal government. It’s stories like these that remind us – that despite spending a trillion dollars on new weapons to hunt terrorists in the Middle East after 9/11 – the biggest threats still remain right here at home – in the thousands of militia groups that are whipped up into a paranoid frenzy by irresponsible political rhetoric.

Republicans are protecting BP. After a new report on the BP Oil Spill was released a few weeks ago outlining what mistakes the transnational oil corporation BP made leading to the death of 11 men and the destruction of the Gulf coastline – Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee wanted to hold a hearing to get an explanation from the CEOs of BP, Transocean, and Halliburton. But yesterday – Republicans on the committee blocked Democrats from issuing any subpoenas. As ranking Democrat on the Committee – Congressman Ed Markey said, “Republicans have put the CEOs from the companies responsible for the worst offshore oil spill in our history into a witness protection program, when they should be helping to produce these witnesses before the committee so they can answer questions about their spill.” I guess Republicans figure if big oil CEOs are in jail – then that means less campaign cash for the Grand Old Party.

In Greece – we’re learning what happens when you defy banksters. Just days after announcing he will let the Greek people determine the fate of their country and not international banking institutions – Prime Minister Papandreou is being forced out of office. Papandreou’s decision to hold a national vote on whether or not Greece should be bailed out shocked other European leaders and financial giants in Greece who feared that the people may reject a bailout – triggering a default – and a financial panic across the world. As members of his own Party and government ministers turn on Papandreou – he held an emergency meeting with the President of Greece today to announce a new coalition government under the leadership of a former Greek central banker Lucas Papademos. The move puts plans of a national referendum in jeopardy – and once again leaves Greece to the whims of the international banking system.

Crazy Alert! The most ironic robbery ever! Florida Police are looking for the man who robbed 41-year-old Anthony Williams at gunpoint earlier this week – stealing 65 bucks from Williams’s wallet. Police have one description to go by – the thief was wearing a Ronald Reagan mask. The main suspect is a local troublemaker who hangs out at the arcade and has been known to snatch purses – and who was also seen wearing a Ronald Reagan mask on Halloween. So far – police have yet to nap the suspect. Unclear what the Reagan robber did with the 65 bucks he stole – but if he stuck true to form – then he likely just handed it over to some really rich guy nearby. Reaganomics hits the streets.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, November 3rd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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