In today’s On the News segment: Banksters and technocrats pushing austerity in Greece now have blood on their hands, the corruption of American capitalism by Reaganomic deregulation is on full display at Hostess Brands company, the federal ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged in a US appeals court, the death penalty is on the way out in Connecticut, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The banksters and technocrats pushing austerity in Greece now have blood on their hands. On Wednesday – a 77-year-old retired pharmacist walked up to the Greek Parliament building and shot himself in the head to protest the crippling austerity measures that are ripping apart that nation. The man – whose name has not been released – left behind a note reading, “I have no other way to react apart from finding a dignified end before I start sifting through garbage for food.” His suicide prompted thousands of Greeks to take to the streets in central Athens in fresh new protests against trickle-down austerity. Since trickle-down austerity began in Greece – suicide rates have jumped up 40%. Not only is trickle-down austerity bad economically – it’s bad morally as well. Yet it’s just the thing that the Republican budget written by multi-millionaire Congressman Paul Ryan would bring to the United States.
Workers who make Twinkies are screwed. The corruption of American capitalism by Reaganomic deregulation is on full display at Hostess Brands company. According to a court filing reported on by Dow Jones – Hostess may have violated Bankruptcy laws by looting its corporate treasury to pay executives massive bonuses just before their company went bankrupt. Apparently knowing that the company was about to go under – the Twinkie makers paid out all the company’s remaining cash to their top executives – like CEO Brian Driscoll, who ran off with a 300% salary increase to $2.5 million while running his company into bankruptcy. At the same time – Hostess demanded its workers take drastic pay and benefit cuts – and reneged on its obligations to fund retiree pensions. This is what deregulated capitalism is all about – not running a business in the best interest of the workers, the community, or even the business itself – but instead running it like a personal ATM machine for a handful of fat-cat executives. This is a crime; unfortunately it’s a crime that never goes punished in today’s 1% economy.
In the best of the rest of the news…
For the first time ever – the federal ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged in a U.S. appeals court. The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston is hearing a case to determine the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama decided his administration would no longer defend the law in court – so House Republicans used taxpayer money to hire a high-priced lawyer to prevent gays and lesbians from having the same rights as straight Americans. The showdown in the First Circuit Court means that the DOMA case will likely head to the Supreme Court next year for a final ruling. Considering that the high court has been busy stripping rights away from actual people – and giving them to so-called corporate people – champions of human rights should be cautious. Then again – if two corporations asked the Supreme Court for the right to be married – then something tells me the high court would oblige. Then again – courts shouldn’t have any power at all to determine whether or not laws are constitutional. That should be left up to the people and the Congress.
The death penalty is on the way out in Connecticut. The Connecticut state house is expected to follow the state Senate and pass legislation abolishing the death penalty. Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy has promised to sign the legislation – making Connecticut the fifth state in the last five years to abolish the death penalty. The United States is the only western democracy in the world that still puts its citizens to death – and we do so at an alarmingly high rate. We’re right up there with China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq in how many people we put to death each year – all countries run by authoritarian and/or religious governments. According to our Constitution, we’re neither. It’s time for other states to join Connecticut and end the death penalty – a scar on a criminal justice system.
President Obama signed into law the STOCK Act on Wednesday – prohibiting Members of Congress, thousands of federal workers, and himself from trading stocks based on nonpublic information they may be privy to thanks to their job in government. The Senate passed a much stronger version of the law requiring the disclosure of lobbyists who gather information on Capitol Hill and sell that information to banksters on Wall Street – but Republicans who take money from Wall Street lobbyists stripped that provision out of the House version. Meanwhile, the Republicans’ top Wall Street watchdog in the Republican-controlled House – Financial Services Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus – is under investigation for insider trading.
The city of Detroit has temporarily avoided a state takeover by one of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s so-called “financial managers.” Unfortunately – local democracy is still at risk in the Motor City. On Wednesday night – the Detroit city council approved a plan that would keep the city afloat – and allow elected city officials to retain some of their power. But, it wuld have a financial advisory board selected by Governor Rick Snyder oversee city operations and budgeting, and force Detroit to meet monthly budget requirements. The Governor is also prohibiting the city from negotiating with its employees. If any parts of this new agreement fall through – then one of Governor Snyder’s so-called “financial managers” – his crony dictators – will immediately take over the city. What’s happening in Michigan is very much like the replacement of democratically elected officials with unelected banksters that’s happening right now in Greece and Italy. It’s crisis capitalism at its most destructive.
And finally…Google unveiled its long-rumored “concept eyeglasses” known as “Project Glass.” The futuristic-looking eyeglasses have see-through lenses than can display all the things your smartphone is capable of, like text messages, maps, and photos. The glasses are also voice-activated – so you can walk around appearing to talk to yourself. Google cautioned that the glasses are still a long way from being completed – but some prototypes have left the lab and are being tried out in the real world – so it shouldn’t be too long before people have everything Google has to offer right in front of their eyes – literally. Something tells me Rick Santorum is not too happy about this.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, March 5th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.