On the News With Thom Hartmann: Corporations Have Been Given Immunity for Violating Our Privacy, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Republicans want to stop the Securities and Exchange Commission from requiring corporations to disclose their political contributions; corporations have already been given immunity for violating our privacy; Rhode Island will soon become the 10th in our nation to legalize same-sex marriage; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Republicans want to stop the Securities and Exchange Commission from adopting rule 4-637, which would require corporations to disclose their political contributions. A group of shareholder activists, pension fund representatives, and Democratic lawmakers are pushing the S.E.C. to require corporations to report their political spending to investors. And according to the New York Times the agency is preparing for fierce opposition from corporations and lawmakers alike. As the S.E.C. could propose this new disclosure rule by the end of this month, House Republicans are already trying to introduce legislation that would make requiring disclosure illegal. Despite nearly half a million comments on the proposed rule, the vast majority in favor of its adoption, Republicans think shareholders don’t have the right to know how their investment money is being spent. Even in the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – which opened the flood gates of corporate political spending – public disclosure was considered the proper check against abuse. Some of our nation’s most powerful corporate lobbying groups – like the Business Roundtable and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – have spoken out against disclosing how much they’re spending to buy off our elected leaders. They don’t want Americans to know how much corporate money is flooding into Congress, or who these bought-and-paid-for lawmakers are really working for. As we continue our fight to say that money isn’t speech, and corporations are not people, we should also support the S.E.C.’s effort to make corporations disclose their political contributions. Let’s attack this problem from every side. Tell the Securities and Exchange Commission you support the public disclosure rule at SEC.gov, and join the fight against corporate power at MoveToAmend.org.

In screwed news… Just as we were celebrating the news that President Obama threatened to veto CISPA, we learn that many corporations have already been given immunity for violating our privacy. CNET News is reporting that Senior Obama Administration officials have secretly granted immunity to AT&T and other Internet service providers that participated in spying on Americans. The documents obtained by CNET show that the National Security Agency and the Defense Department pushed for secret legal authorization, and Justice Department attorneys signed off on their requests. The network providers were then given what security officials call “2511 letters,” which grant legal protection for ignoring federal wiretap laws. CNET was not able to determine the exact number of 2511 letters that the Justice Department issued. So, was the President’s potential CISPA veto just political theater? It appears to be nothing more than an empty threat of fighting for privacy protections that are already non-existent. It’s time to stand up for our privacy rights. No company should have immunity for violating our Constitution. If we give up our liberty in the name of security, we may soon find ourselves with neither.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Rhode Island is standing up for equality. That state will soon become the 10th in our nation to legalize same-sex marriage. The celebrations began yesterday after legislation passed 26 to 12 in the Rhode Island Senate, after having sailed through the State House back in January. Governor Lincoln Chafee called the bill historic, and said, “I’m very much looking forward to signing this.” Same-sex couples could begin exchanging vows as early as August 1st, when the legislation will go into effect. Slowly, but surely, our nation is recognizing the importance of LGBT equality. Every citizen in our nation should have the right to marry the person who they love. As of now, we may only have won this battle in 10 states, but we are well on our way to making this a national policy. We hope that soon, every state will recognize that gay rights are civil rights. Great work Rhode Island!

Spain is breaking records, but not in a good way. That nation’s unemployment rate hit 27.2% in the first quarter of this year. That means that over six million Spanish citizens are out of work. These drastic numbers illustrate the on-going economic struggle in that nation. And, the fact that unemployment continues to rise clearly shows that the right-wing austerity measures are only making the situation worse. Harsh spending cuts have caused massive layoffs in Spain, and more people out of work means less money fueling their economy. Unfortunately, Spain is finding out the hard way that they can’t cut their way to prosperity. In order to turn things around, they must start investing in their nation and putting citizens back to work. Here is the U.S., we should be paying close attention to what happens when austerity measures are imposed on an already-struggling economy. If we don’t act quickly to reverse the Republican spending cuts here, we could very well end up breaking unemployment records right here at home.

And finally… You may not need another reason to avoid fast food, but we have one for you anyway. Back in 1999, David Whipple wanted to use a McDonald’s hamburger to show friends how preservatives effected it’s decay. Well, the chemical preservatives worked so well that after 14 years that hamburger remains virtually unchanged. The CBS show “The Doctors” examined the burger and said that aside from the disintegration of the pickle, there were no signs of mold, fungus, or odor. Mr. Whipple said that he considered selling the hamburger on eBay, after being offered nearly $2,000 dollars on the online auction site, but he decided to keep it for educational use. And, he said he now uses it to convince his grandchildren not to eat fast food. A hamburger that doesn’t decay for 14 years is a perfect example of the dangers of preservatives, and it’s also interesting to note that fast food isn’t even appetizing to bacteria.

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