On the News With Thom Hartmann: A New Study Suggests That the Food We Eat Might Be Responsible for Increase in Autism, and More

In today’s On the News segment: A new study suggests that the food we eat might be responsible for increase in autism, George Zimmerman pled “not guilty” to charges of second-degree murder today, it could be the end of the road for Libertarian Ron Paul, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news.

You need to know this. George Zimmerman faced a judge today – where he plead “not guilty” to charges of second-degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida. So while Zimmerman will finally get his day in court and a community can begin the healing process – attention is now turning to the Shoot First laws in Florida and dozens of other states across the nation that give people like Zimmerman legal cover when they shoot people. Led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – several organizations like the NAACP, the National Urban League, and Color of Change are launching a movement to have the Koch Brother’s Shoot First laws repealed. As Mayor Bloomberg pointed out in a press conference on Wednesday – states that have passed Shoot First laws have seen a massive increase in so-called “justifiable homicides” – making communities less safe. A website has been launched to facilitate the movement to repeal Shoot First laws. Go to “second chance on shoot first.org” to sign a petition calling on elected lawmakers to drop their support for these Koch-Brothers-Promoted Shoot First laws.

Americans are screwed by the food we eat. On the heels of a report by the Centers for Disease Control showing a drastic 78% increase in cases of autism in America since 2002 – a new study suggests that the food we eat might be responsible. The peer-reviewed journal, Clinical Epigenetics, links increased autism cases to the widespread use of high-fructose corn syrup in the American diet. As the study’s co-author, Dr. David Wallings, said, “To better address the explosion of autism, it’s critical we consider how unhealthy diets interfere with the body’s ability to eliminate toxic chemicals, and ultimately our risk for developing long-term health problems like autism.” According to the study – consuming high fructose corn syrup can lead to the loss of zinc in the body – making it more difficult for the body to rid itself of toxic metals like mercury and arsenic that have an adverse effect on brain development in children. Could studies like this deter major food corporations that are using high fructose corn syrup in their products to feed Americans? Probably not.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The Koch brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council is fighting back against a boycott campaign aimed at its corporate members. ALEC – which is behind right-wing legislation like new Voter ID laws, anti-union laws, and Shoot First laws – has lost a slew of corporate members including Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and MacDonalds, since progressive organizations launched a boycott this month calling on companies to cut ties with the right-wing group. In a statement released on Wednesday – ALEC called the boycott effort an “intimidation campaign” – and defended itself saying, “At a time when job creation, real solutions and improved dialogue among political leaders is needed most, ALEC’s mission has never been more important.” That mission, of course, it to advance the agenda of the 1% at all costs. Both at the ballot box by pushing legislation that will disenfranchise millions of Democratic voters – and in the economy by pushing legislation that repeals environmental regulations, screws over public sector employee unions, and gives legal cover to gun sellers when their weapons are used to kill other people. ALEC is one of the biggest threats to our democracy – and the fact that they’re responding to this boycott effort means it’s working. So let’s keep it up.

The “Buffett Rule” has been no stranger to the news lately – but it’s the “Romney Rule” that might soon be getting a lot of attention. Today in New Hampshire – Vice President Joe Biden coined the phrase “Romney Rule” to draw a clear distinction between President Obama’s plans to make the super-rich pay their fair share in taxes, and Mitt Romney’s opposition to taxing the rich. In the speech today – Biden said, “The Buffett Rule says that multi-millionaires should pay at least the same percentage of their income in taxes as middle-class families do…The Romney Rule says the very wealthy should keep the tax cuts and loopholes they have, and get an additional, new tax cut that is worth more than what the average middle class family makes in an entire year.” The Vice President is right – and this election will come down to a simple question – should the wealthy start paying their fair share in taxes again, or should working people continue to shoulder the burden of trickle-down austerity measures? To most Americans it’s a very easy answer – unfortunately their voices are about to be drowned out by billions of dollars in corporate cash in this election thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

The Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal could be coming to the United States. This week – the lead lawyer filing suit against Murdoch’s media empire in the U.K. – Mark Lewis – is headed to the United States where he intends to file three lawsuits on behalf of people who believed their phones were hacked while they were on U.S. soil. One of those people is reported to be an American citizen. So far the phone hacking scandal has led to multiple arrests of Murdoch’s employees in the U.K. and the shuttering of Murdoch’s News of the World tabloid. But – the scandal has yet to reach the home base of Murdoch’s media empire known as NewsCorp in New York City – where Murdoch’s gem, Fox so-called News, operates. This is a story definitely worth keeping a close eye on.

And finally…It could be the end of the road for Libertarian Ron Paul – the only candidate left in the Republican race who has not won a single primary state yet. On Wednesday – the Paul campaign sent out a letter to supporters asking for $2.5 million in donations. In that letter – Paul writes that if they don’t raise the money then, “I am not sure our campaign can go on.” It appears as though the Libertarian/Ayn Rand message of dismantling government as we know it – and leaving the poor and sick to die in the gutter alone – is losing its traction within the Republican Party.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, April 12, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.