On the News With Thom Hartmann: G20 Summit in Russia Is Officially Underway, and More

In today’s On the News segment:G20 summit in Russia is being dubbed an international showdown; radiation levels at the Fukushima nuclear power plant are rising at an alarming rate; Oklahoma’s second largest school district is giving up on abstinence only sex education; and More.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. The G20 summit in Russia is officially underway, and it’s being dubbed an international showdown. Although G20 summit typically focuses on the global economy, this year’s event is being dominated by the potential U.S. strike in Syria. Tensions between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin have mounted over possible military action, and tensions don’t appear to be easing any time soon. In recent days, Putin has voiced opposition about US military action in Syria, at the same time that President Obama has been attempting to make the case for war. At a stopover in Sweden on his way to the G20, President Obama admitted that US relations with Russia have “hit a wall.” At the same time that the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee was approving a war resolution, President Putin appeared to be issuing thinly veiled threats about Russia’s response. In an interview on Wednesday, Putin said, “If we see that steps are taken that violate the existing international norms, we shall think how we should act in the future, in particular regarding supplies of such sensitive weapons to certain regions of the world.” Some experts believe that Putin was referring to the possibility of supplying Iran with surface-to-air missiles that the US and Israel oppose. The threat adds even more tension to relations between Putin and Obama, especially since Iran’s military chief said they will back Syrian president Assad “to the end.” As President Obama tries to make the case to Russia and to the international community at the G20 summit for military intervention in Syria, many Americans are making the case against it to lawmakers here at home. The majority of people in our nation don’t want to get involved in this complicated and dangerous scenario, and they are begging their elected leaders to pull us back from the edge of a potential world war.

In screwed news… Radiation levels at the Fukushima nuclear power plant are rising at an alarming rate. On Tuesday, ground readings near the leaking water storage tangs were 20 percent higher than the Saturday before. And, additional leaks have now been reported. The current levels in the contaminated water are high enough to provide a lethal dose of radiation to someone standing near the leaking tanks. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told journalists that the government will “take drastic measures of a maximum scale” and “will definitely resolve the problem.” The Japanese government is planning to freeze the ground surrounding the leaking tanks to prevent ground water from coming in to contact with radiation. But the fact is, no government action, and no amount of money, can repair much of the damage that has already been done. Japanese power company Tepco has been dumping contaminated water into the ocean for months now, and there’s no telling exactly how long storage tanks have been leaking into the ground. This is the danger of nuclear, and there’s no fixing it when nuclear goes wrong.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Oklahoma’s second largest school district is giving up on abstinence only sex education. According to Tulsa’s Channel 9 News, the school district will begin teaching 7th, 9th, and 11th graders the real facts about sex. The move is a response to the high teen pregnancy rate in the district, which is the fourth highest in the entire state. Tulsa Public Schools spokesperson Steve Mayfield said, “Forty-four percent of students who become pregnant or who are married at that age fail to graduate from high school, and that’s something that affects them for the rest of their life.” Despite the fact that Oklahoma has no statewide sex ed requirements, the school district is turning to actual science to help prevent students from traveling down on the wrong path. Mr. Mayfield said that, to his knowledge, no science-based sex ed curriculum has ever been taught in local schools. If that’s the case, it’s likely that students, and many parents and teachers, will greatly benefit from sitting through these new sex education courses.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice announced another discriminatory law that they believe should not be enforced. From now on, the federal government will not continue to implement sections of the U.S. Code Title 38, which prohibits same-sex couples from receiving veterans benefits. Even since the federal Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the Supreme Court, Title 38 has continued to block same-sex couples from receiving the same survival, health care, home loan, and other benefits that their opposite-sex counterparts currently utilize. The announcement comes as a relief to many veterans and their partners, sparing them the legal fees to fight the discriminatory section of the law. And, it means they no longer have to wait to receive equal benefits. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Attorney General Eric Holder explained that “decisions by the Executive not to enforce federal laws are appropriately rare,” but the administration no longer had justification to uphold it. Thankfully, the men and women who serve our nation now will have access to the same benefits regardless of who they love.

And finally… Next time you see an angry post on Facebook, or you receive a flirtatious text from an ex, don’t judge so quickly. According to neurologist Dr. Laura Fine, the person who typed that message could have been sleep texting. No, seriously. Researchers at the Swedish Medical Center say that just as some people have a problem with sleepwalking, a growing number of patients report text messaging or posting on social media sites while they’re unconscious. Dr. Fine says that patients get up in the middle of the night, send out a digital message, and have no recollection of it the following morning. And, she says – the messages might by upsetting. Dr. Fine said, “A person may text an inappropriate message emerging out of their unconscious mind that the conscious person would not want to send.” So, this explains a lot about Yahoo message boards!

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, September 5, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.