On the News With Thom Hartmann: Japanese Protesters Take to the Streets Against Nuclear Reactors, and More

In today’s On the News segment: On Monday, Republicans in the Senate joined together to filibuster and kill the latest attempt by Democrats to inject transparency in our elections; also on Monday, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Appeals denied a stay of execution request for Warren Lee Hill; serious doubts are being raised about the safety of offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean; more than 100,000 protesters took to the streets against recent decisions to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Transparency?! We don’t need no stinkin’ transparency! On Monday, Republicans in the Senate joined together to filibuster and kill the latest attempt by Democrats to inject transparency in our elections. Despite receiving a majority of votes in the Senate, the DISCLOSE Act, which would have forced any political organization spending more than $10,000 in our election to disclose their donors, didn’t get the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster. Just like in 2010, corporate organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and the NRA were able to either intimidate or bribe enough Senators to vote “no” and preserve their ability to raise and spend unlimited funds from who or whatever they’d like – including Saudi princes, Chinese business tycoons, and, heck, even dictators like Mahmoud Ahmedenijad. Even previously staunch supporters of campaign finance reform like Republican Senators John McCain, Olympia Snowe, and Scott Brown voted against the DISCLOSE Act, now that they realize all the outside secret cash is benefiting many more Republicans than Democrats this election cycle. We already know shady, foreign money is being funneled into this election. According to an investigation by the PBS and ProPublica, Mitt Romney’s biggest donor Sheldon Adleson, who made his fortune running casinos in Chinese Macau and did business with known Chinese gang members, yet Mitt Romney is gladly accepting Adelson’s help to defeat President Obama. Meanwhile, two of Paul Ryan’s biggest donors are Swiss Banks! Welcome to American democracy in the 21st century – up for sale to the highest anonymous bidder.

In screwed news…all signs point to a slow down in the economic recovery, which means Republicans are giving each other high-fives. Retail sales – a key part of our economy – have dropped for three straight months now. These numbers suggest what most economists have been saying since day one – that this is a demand crisis, since workers don’t have enough money in their pockets to spend. On top of that, a new report by the Economic Policy Institute reveals that the Republican austerity measures that have killed more than a million public sector jobs are also killing jobs in the private sector. Looking at the economic multiplier effect, every single government job that is lost causes an overall reduction in consumer spending in the economy, and thus pain for the private sector. As the EPI concludes, “for every dollar cut in salary and supplies of public-sector workers, another 24 cents is lost in purchasing power throughout the rest of the economy…This means that the public sector being down 1.1 million jobs has likely cost the private sector 751,000 jobs.” Unemployment would be a full percentage point lower – if not more – if only Republicans had not sabotaged our economy. Bottom line, when Republicans like Romney and McConnell talk about the bad economy – they’re bragging!

In the best of the rest of the news…

With questions still lingering about the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia last year, that state is about to wade into another execution controversy. On Monday, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Appeals denied a stay of execution request for Warren Lee Hill, despite evidence and a court-ruling that Hill is mentally retarded. The Supreme Court has outlawed the execution of the mentally retarded, yet the Parole Board is moving forward with the execution, scheduled for Wednesday. Hill’s attorney slammed the decision saying, “[t]his shameful decision violates Georgia’s and our nation’s moral values and renders meaningless state and federal constitutional protections against wrongful execution of persons with mental retardation.” Hill will have one last appeal attempt with the Supreme Court before he is scheduled to die.

Serious doubts are being raised about the safety of offshore drilling in the Arctic Ocean. After restrictions on drilling in the Arctic were lifted, Shell Oil is preparing to set up shop in one of the harshest drilling environments in the world. But, a series of recent events highlights the dangers inherent in this task. According to a report by the Los Angeles Times, an environmental disaster in Alaska was nearly averted last weekend when an oil rig operated by Shell lost its anchor and came dangerously close to running ashore at Dutch Harbor. This incident comes on the heels of the Coast Guard refusing to certify Shell’s 37-year-old oil spill-response barge over safety concerns. Yet, our government is prepared to let Shell drill in the Arctic – a place of extreme and unpredictable weather, where containing an oil spill is virtually impossible. Did we learn nothing from the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill?

No nukes! That was the message coming out of central Tokyo on Monday as more than 100,000 protestors took to the streets against recent decisions to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. Amid widespread criticism, Japan restarted a nuclear reactor earlier this month for the first time since the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis began back in March of 2011. Monday’s demonstrations pointed to a recent report that exposed nuclear plant operators, TEPCO, and the Japanese government both ignoring crucial warnings that predicted something like the Fukushima nuclear crisis, and concluded that the disaster was therefore “clearly man-made.” Japan knows what it feels like to get burned by nuclear power – that’s why hundreds of thousands of people are in the streets. Unfortunately, if we don’t have this same sort of public action in American against nuclear power, it’s just a matter of time we get burned, too, by the world’s most dangerous and expensive form of electricity generation.

And finally…it was just a matter of time before this happened – the man with the world’s largest penis met the TSA. Jonah Falco, who’s been featured in several documentaries touting his 13-inches of manhood, was trying to catch a flight out of San Francisco earlier this month, when the TSA noticed a strange bulge in his pants. Falco was immediately subjected to one of those infamous TSA “groin checks.” Falco said in the future, he’ll just wear bike shorts so that agents clearly know what the situation is. After the TSA inspection, it was determined that Falco was not actually carrying a weapon in his pants…at least not literally.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, July 17th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.