On the News With Thom Hartmann: Alabama Lawmaker Moves to Change State’s Stand Your Ground Law, and More

In today’s On the News segment: President Obama spoke at Knox College in Illinois about his vision for the American economy; TEPCO workers in Japan say more steam has been reported at Fukushima nuclear reactor no 3; a Jefferson County, Alabama lawmaker wants to change that state’s Stand Your Ground law so it won’t let the next George Zimmerman get off for taking another life; and More.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Yesterday, President Obama spoke at Knox College in Illinois – about his vision for the American economy. Throughout his speech – the President highlighted facts – like how middle-class Americans are struggling to survive – while CEO pay and earnings for the top 1% of Americans have skyrocketed. The essence of the President’s speech was that it’s time to get away from the failed economic ideas of the past 30 years – like Reaganomics and trickle-down economics – and instead look to the days of the Great Society and the New Deal to boost our economy. Right now – Republicans in Washington are hacking away at the very programs that could help this nation recover – and that would make the middle-class strong and stable once again. In yesterday’s speech – the President proposed increases in infrastructure spending, more investments in education, and continued work to make healthcare affordable in America. Unfortunately – Republicans refuse to address this nation’s infrastructure woes – they don’t understand the value of a good education – and they’ve voted about 40 times to repeal Obamacare – which makes healthcare more affordable in America. But why are they doing this? Why are Republicans standing by the failed policies of Reaganomics, trickle-down economics, supply-side economics and the Reagan Revolution? It’s because the Republican Party is a cult. Scientists tell us that cult leaders pretty much always do the same thing to their members. Cult leaders put their members in physically or emotionally distressing situation to soften them up. Cult leaders reduce complex problems to bumper stickers, and they demand loyalty to the founder and core ideas of the cult. Cult leaders spoon feed information to their members in a way that always makes them look good and everyone else look bad. Our President is fighting an up-hill battle to restore vital programs that could put Americans back to work, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, and stimulate our struggling economy. For the sake of our nation, let’s hope he can defeat the cult, and bring back the Great Society by enacting a new New Deal.

In screwed news… According to TEPCO workers in Japan, more steam has been reported at Fukushima nuclear reactor no 3. Workers noticed the steam coming out of the very same area it was leaking from last week. They say the problem is on the fifth floor of the plant, where reactor no 3 is, right next to the pool storing machinery. The roof of Reactor’s no 3 was blown off during a hydrogen explosion a few days after the 2011 nuclear meltdown, and is still too dangerous for anyone to go near it. Meanwhile, strong earthquakes are occurring around the plant again, leaving Japanese residents, and people around the world watching the situation closely. Let’s just say, No More Nukes!

In the best of the rest of the news…

In the wake of the George Zimmerman verdict – a Jefferson County, Alabama lawmaker wants to change that state’s Stand Your Ground law so it won’t let the next George Zimmerman get off for taking another life. Representative Merika Coleman-Evans says that under her bill – a person could not use “stand your ground” if they initially pursued another person engaged in a lawful activity, and the pursuit resulted in a confrontation. While Coleman-Evans bill is a good start – many people around our nation would like to see Stand You Ground and shoot first laws repealed entirely.

Last week in Florida – the Tampa Bay City Council essentially made it a crime to be homeless. The City Council passed a new ordinance, which allows police to arrest someone for sleeping in public, or “storing personal property in public.” According to a study by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development – Tampa and surrounding areas had the highest number of homeless individuals out of all mid-size cities in 2012. It’s bad enough that unemployment, housing aid, and other assistance have been hit with huge cuts, but it’s completely immoral to criminalize those who end up on the streets.

Yesterday, labor and human rights leaders asked for negotiations with Vietnam and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be suspended. They want talks delayed until trading partners can prove basic labor, environmental, and human right standards are met. Teamster’s President James P. Hoffa said “President Obama must hold Vietnam accountable for its record on worker and human rights before America rewards the country with greater trading privileges.” A new report details a number of worker abuses in Vietnam. They include forced labor, child labor and gender discrimination. Sub-standard wages and slave labor conditions make it impossible for Americans to compete with jobs in other nations. Before other trade agreements, pro-corporate groups like The Chamber of Commerce, said exports and jobs would blossom. But, neither happened. Just like when NAFTA, the TPP will reduce wages and suck jobs away from American workers. When will our elected leaders ever learn?

And finally… A few days ago – NSA Director Keith Alexander met privately with Democratic and Republican House lawmakers. Alexander railed against a Republican-proposed amendment to the defense appropriations bill, which would cut off funding for the NSA’s vast phone data collection program. The amendment was authored by Congressman Justin Amash – the libertarian Republican from Michigan – and cosponsored by liberal Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers. Meanwhile, Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon – one of the staunchest critics of the NSA’s surveillance programs – spoke out against government surveillance Tuesday at the Center for American Progress. Despite the best efforts of Representative Conyers, Senator Wyden, and others, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to continue funding the surveillance program. And so, our fight for privacy rights continues.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, July 25, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.