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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Inmates in Austerity-Wracked Cyprus Donate $11K to Volunteer Health Clinic, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Ohio Supreme Court justice says problems with modern-day debtors’ prisons can and should be addressed, and more.

In today’s On the News segment:

Jim Javinsky here – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news…

You need to know this. Despite the fact that Americans want Medicare and Social Security protected, President Obama has once again included cuts to those vital programs as part of his new budget proposal. As he’s done previously, the President has offered up a change to cost of living increases – called the chained CPI – which reduces benefits paid to seniors, veterans, and the disabled. A new report from Alternet highlights several facts that the President should consider before asking the poor to bear the brunt of more budget cuts. According to the report, half of American workers are “not at all confident” that they will be financially stable in their retirement, and the majority of Americans have only $25,000 or less saved for retirement. Adding insult to injury, these cuts come on top of the decline of pensions in our nation, as over 84 thousand pensions have disappeared since 1985. And with that decline of pensions, we saw a rise in 401(k) retirement plans, however that experiment has been a complete disaster. According to Alternet, “401(k)s are volatile, complicated, expensive, and inadequate,” and they don’t provide retirement security for workers. These are only a few of the reasons why President Obama must take Medicare and Social Security off the table. Many Americans rely on this basic benefit to survive as they get older, and benefit reductions will only make it more difficult for them to make ends meet. There is nothing “grand” about this “grand bargain.” Let’s stand together to fight these cuts. Call the White House and demand President Obama take our social safety net off his chopping block.

In screwed news… Our nation outlawed the use of debtors’ prisons in 1833. However, people in Ohio are ending up in jail for their inability to pay fines. According to an investigation by the Ohio ACLU, people in that state are being locked up because they can’t pay court costs and fees. The report said, “The use of debtors’ prison is an outdated and destructive practice that has wreaked havoc upon the lives of those profiled.” And, at least one Ohio Supreme Court judge agrees with the ACLU. Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor responded to the ACLU’s request for the court to intervene, and said, “you do cite a matter that can and must receive further attention.” Jailing people for their inability to pay a fine is illogical and inhumane. A person can’t go out and earn the necessary funds when they’re locked up in jail, and Ohio is simply punishing people for being poor. Thankfully, the ACLU is working to stop the resurrection of debtors’ prisons.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Our democratic process is under attack, but the top law enforcement official in our nation is fighting to protect our right to vote. Last week in New York, Attorney General Eric Holder said the Department of Justice will pursue legal action against state officials who attempt to rig the electoral college. He spoke forcefully, saying, “Recent proposed changes in how electoral votes are apportioned in specific states are blatantly partisan, unfair, divisive, and not worthy of our nation. Let me be clear again: we will not sit by and allow the slow unraveling of an electoral system that so many sacrificed to construct.” His comments were aimed at Republican officials in several states, who are working to change the way electoral college votes are counted. If they succeed with their election-rigging plans, it would virtually guarantee Republicans win the White House in 2016, and beyond. Thankfully, Attorney General Holder is ready and willing to fight back against those who threaten our democracy.

As the economy of Cyrpus suffers because of turmoil in the banking sector, a surprising group of citizens have started raising money to help the poor. The Associated Press reports that prison inmates have donated over $11,000 in cash to help keep open a volunteer clinic which serves needy families. The wife of one of the inmates said those serving time believe access to medical care is equally as important as food to families trying to survive that country’s economic collapse. A Cypriot parliament member who received the donated money said, “I was deeply moved by the inmates’ moral depth, even in their circumstances.” These donations are an amazing display of human compassion… something that appears to be lacking in the austerity measures being imposed throughout the E.U. by the European Central Bank. Leaders in European nations could learn a thing or two from these inmates, and we can all work to demonstrate that same concern for our fellow man.

And finally… When most people imagine their wedding day, they picture something romantic and elegant. However, there’s a new option that some in Las Vegas can now consider…a Denny’s restaurant. That’s right, you can now have your special day in the home of the famous Grand Slam breakfast. For a small fee of $95 dollars, you can celebrate your nuptials with a bottle of champagne and a Pancake Puppie wedding cake. An Iowa couple was the first to tie the knot inside the Las Vegas restaurant, and Denny’s has had “many inquiries” from couples wanting to pledge their love over an order of Moons Over My Hammy. No word yet on whether other locations will offer wedding services, but it’s unlikely. As they say, “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas,” and that probably includes pledging your eternal love via a “Just Married” t-shirt from Denny’s.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, April 8, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky, in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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