In today's On the News segment: The United Nations weighs in on the police response to the Occupy protests, the Republican plan to bankrupt the post office is working, Massachusetts' attorney general announces lawsuit against five megabanks, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Clashes between Occupy Wall Street and the police have finally arrived at the nation’s capital. Yesterday – police moved into one of Occupy DC’s encampments to remove a wooden structure being built to house General Assembly meetings during the winter. Police deemed the structure was unsafe – and had to be taken down. That set up a tense few hours as patriots clung to the roof of the building while a police cherry picker prodded them off. In all, 31 people were arrested – and the structure was torn down – but police as of right now have no intention of evicting the entire occupation. Meanwhile – the United Nations is weighing in on the police response to Occupy Wall Street in America. Frank La Rue – the special rapporteur for the UN envoy for freedom of expression is drafting a letter to the US government demanding to know why federal officials are not protecting the rights of peaceful demonstrators. As La Rue said in an interview with the Huffington Post, “I believe in city ordinances and I believe in maintaining urban order. But on the other hand I also believe that the state – in this case the federal state – has an obligation to protect and promote human rights.” As usual – the United States is leading by example…although, unfortunately, when it comes to Occupy Wall Street – it’s the wrong example. If people can’t peaceably protest in America – then where can they?
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The Post Office is screwed! The Republican plan to bankrupt the Post Office and its half a million unionized employees is working. Facing a fiscal crisis created solely by poison-pill legislation passed 5 years ago by a Republican Congress and signed by President Bush that required the Post Office – unlike any other company or government agency – to prefund 75 years worth of employee health benefits in a 10 year period – the Post Office is now moving forward with massive cuts in service. Next-day mail delivery is the first to get the axe – but even more drastic cuts are coming down the pike, including closing nearly 4,000 local mail facilities and laying off as many as 100,000 postal workers. Meanwhile – Congress is doing nothing to repeal the poison pill legislation that’s threatening to kill off an institution was founded by Ben Franklin. Call your lawmakers and tell them to help the post office and resist Republican efforts to completely privatize mail delivery in America.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Will the banksters finally have their day in court? Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced lawsuits against 5 of the nation’s biggest banks – including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Ally Financial. The suit alleges the banks fraudulently foreclosed on Americans’ homes and failed to adequately assist in loan modification. The move by Coakley is the first major action taken by a state Attorney General since nationwide talks between Attorneys General and the White House over a possible settlement for all the banks collapsed a few months back. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden are also pushing ahead with their own investigations and likely their own lawsuits against the banks too. In the old days in America – we the people had the power to shut down banks and other corporations that committed even a whiff of the sort of scams the banksters pulled off during the Bush years. Let’s hope we return to the age of accountability soon with these latest lawsuits, and throw in some prosecutions for good measure.
Civil unrest and economic destruction are being exported from Greece to Italy. The new bankster-run government formed in the wake of Silvio Berlusconi’s resignation has approved a new austerity package that will raise the retirement age of all Italians – and let inflation destroy their pensions. While announcing the new austerity measures at a press conference – the Minister of Labour and Welfare, Elsa Fornero, broke down crying. But Prime Minister Mario Monti said austerity was needed to “save Italy.” But as we’ve seen in Greece – austerity has only pushed that nation closer to bankruptcy and brought millions of Greeks into the streets to riot. Simply put – austerity doesn’t work for anybody but the banksters.
The crisis at Fukushima continues. Over the weekend – the crippled Japanese nuclear plant spewed even more highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean – roughly 45,000 liters in all. According to a French nuclear research institute – since the Fukushima nuclear crisis began in March – the plant has leaked more radioactive material into the ocean that has ever happened before in the history of the planet. Let’s hope the world learns some lessons – and doesn’t ignore one of the worse ecological disasters ever. Time to ditch nuclear power – the most expensive and dangerous form of energy on Earth.
Herman Cain officially “suspended” his presidential campaign – or national book tour – after news broke that he carried on a 13-year affair with another woman. But for those who are worried the Republican field has now last it’s flare – have no fear. Donald Trump has signed on to moderate a Republican debate in Iowa at the end of the month hosted by the right-wing blog Newsmax. Already – candidates Jon Huntsman and Ron Paul have declined invitations to show up – claiming they don’t want to be a part of “Presidential Apprentice” and that the debate is beneath the office of the President. If there were still any questions lingering whether the Republican race to the White House was little more than a circus – all of those questions have now been answered by the Donald.
Crazy Alert! A car crash for the 1%. A major pileup in Tokyo caused over a million dollars of damage to nearly a dozen luxury cars. Involved in the accident were eight Ferraris – a Lamborghini – and two Mercedes. The gathering of luxury sports car owners went awry when one driver tried to change lanes – hit a median – and collided with all the other cars. The traffic police spokesman in Tokyo referred to the accident as “a gathering of narcissists.” Expect Republicans in the House this week to introduce legislation to bail out 1%ers who bang-up their million-dollar rides. They’ll call it the “New Cars for Job Creators Relief Act.”
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, December 5th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.