In today’s On the News segment: House Republicans passed a measure in support of the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act, Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s days of racial profiling may be numbered, recalled Gov. Scott Walker is now trying to use tax dollars to bribe voters, and more.
You need to know this. On the same day that President Obama and the nation took a major step forward toward marriage equality – Republicans in the House of Representatives tried to drag the nation backward. Hours after the President’s endorsement of marriage equality – House Republicans passed a measure in support of the discriminatory Defense Against Marriage Act – known as DOMA – which is a federal ban against same-sex marriage. The Republican measure also forbids the Department of Justice from using taxpayer funds to oppose DOMA. Even though Wednesday was a historic day for the nation – with the President of the United States coming out in support of marriage equality for this first time in history – it’s clear that this will be a long battle before the LGBT community finally gets full civil rights. And we’ll need the President’s leadership – and grassroots pressure on all lawmakers until victory is achieved.
In screwed news…a coalition of progressive groups is trying to keep democracy alive in Michigan. The Stand Up for Democracy coalition collected 226,000 signatures to put Republican Governor Rick Snyder’s “financial managers” law on the ballot for repeal in November. But their efforts were squashed when two partisan officials on the state Board of Canvassers last month refused to certify the signatures – because, they said, the font on the petition was the wrong size. Two other officials on the Board approved the petition – but the deadlock prevents the ballot initiative from moving forward. Now the coalition is fighting back – appealing the decision of the state Board of Canvassers – and trying to give Michiganders a say on whether or not their Governor can take over a city – then appoint a crony to fire all the elected officials, break union contracts, and cut back on public services like cops on the beat and street lights. For those listening in Michigan – this movement needs you.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s days of racial profiling may be numbered. The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it’s planning to file suit against Arpaio – alleging that America’s so-called toughest sheriff is violating the civil rights of Latinos. In settlement negotiations – the Justice Department offered a court-appointed monitor to train Arpaio’s officers in how to make constitutional traffic stops without violating civil rights – but Arpaio’s office refused – thus making a lawsuit inevitable. The allegations lodged against Arpaio include racially profiling Latinos, responding to racially charged citizen complaints, and punishing Spanish-speaking inmates. There’s also the separate issue of Arpaio’s office failing to investigate more than 400 sex-crimes – some including children – since 2007. Arpaio likes to call himself America’s Sheriff – but he has no idea what our nation’s values really are.
Bank of America’s annual shareholder meeting this year is occupied. Thousands of protesters marched to the scene of the shareholder meeting on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina to raise awareness about Bank of America’s corruption of our government, ties to the dirty coal industry, and illegal foreclosure practices. In response – the City Manager of Charlotte declared the shareholder meeting an “extraordinary event” meaning local law enforcement could limit free speech, profile, and randomly search demonstrators. While the marches and demonstrations were peaceful, there were reports that four people were arrested. Meanwhile – inside the meeting – shareholders voted for more disclosure of the bank’s lobbying efforts. Unfortunately, the measure failed to pass. Bank of America is just the most recent bank to see its shareholder meeting targeted – last month – hundreds of people rallied outside a Wells Fargo’s shareholder meeting, leading to 24 arrests. The bankster’s hijacking of our economy and democracy is no longer taking place in the shadows – it’s out in the open and the people are fighting back. Let’s keep it up.
Desperate to keep his job in Wisconsin – recalled Governor Scott Walker is now trying to use tax dollars to bribe voters. With Wisconsin having the worst record of job creation in the entire country – and Walker losing in the polls to his recall opponent – Democrat Tom Barrett – Walker announced a $100 million investment in economic development in Milwaukee’s poorest areas. That money will be used to reoccupy foreclosed homes and gives loans to small businesses. It’s an initiative pushed by President Obama and championed by Democrats in the state – but opposed by Walker back when his job was safe and he claimed the state didn’t have enough money for job-creating investments. Barrett responded to the timing of Walker’s investment – saying, “I question the sincerity of that, when it comes 36 days before the recall election…it raises the question of whether this is about creating jobs in Milwaukee, or this is about saving Scott Walker’s job.” Since $25 million in campaign contributions from oil barons and banksters isn’t enough so far to keep Walker’s job safe – maybe $100 million in taxpayer money will be.
Time for Climate Change deniers to plug their ears and hum to themselves. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is out with a new report showing that the last twelve months – from May 2011 to April 2012 – are the warmest twelve months ever recorded, with an average temperature 2.8-degrees above the 100-year average. And, already, in just the first four months of 2012 – the average temperature has been 5.4-degrees above the long-term average – also the hottest such period since recordkeeping back in 1895. Unfortunately – American lawmakers beholden to big oil are paid to ignore the data.
And finally…The Washington Post is reporting that Mitt Romney bullied a presumed gay student while he was in high school. According to a former close-friend of the presumptive Republican nominee – while attending the prestigious Cranbrook School in 1965, Romney followed the student to an empty room, pinned him down, and then cut his hair, while the student cried for help. In a recent interview – Romney didn’t deny the story – and instead promised that he is, “a different guy now.” Though he is a guy who still doesn’t think gays and lesbians shouldn’t be able to marry who they love.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, May 10, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.