On the News With Thom Hartmann: Judge Rules NDAA “Indefinite Detention” Provision Unconstitutional, and More

In today’s On the News segment: college graduates see high unemployment, nuclear contamination fears in Japan increase, a Washington lawmaker is barring women from an abortion bill hearing, JPMorgan Chase reports an additional $1 billion loss, and more.

TRANSCRIPT

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. The highly-controversial indefinite detention provision signed into law by the President at the end of last year has been ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. District court judge in New York. The provision allows the military to detain anyone indefinitely if they are suspected of associating with terrorists – whether they realize it or not. But that law was challenged by a group of journalists and whistleblowers – including Chris Hedges, Noam Chomsky, and Daniel Ellsberg – who argued the law violated the First Amendment – since journalists often come in contact with terrorist organization and thus under the law could be subject to detention. On Wednesday night, Judge Katherine Forrest agreed with the plaintiffs in the case, ruling that the law is unconstitutional – violating the First Amendment rights of the press and the Fifth Amendment right of due process. Meanwhile, as a new version of the NDAA is being debated in Congress, brave members on both sides of the aisle are arguing that there should be no indefinite detention provision in it, invalidating the previous NDAA. We need to return to the values our nation was founded on, which include bravery and due process – and not fear and medieval imprisonment techniques.

Young people are screwed. A new study by the Economic Policy Institute found that wages for young college graduates dropped 5.4% in the last ten years after rising 19% under President Clinton. Currently – nearly half of college graduates in America are unemployed or underemployed and drowning in a trillion dollars of student loan debt. Studies have shown that college graduates entering the job market in a strong economy will earn far more in wages over the course of their life than graduates entering the job market during poor economic times. It’s crucial that our lawmakers direct economic stimulus toward the next generation of leaders, inventors, and entrepreneurs with student loan debt relief, jobs programs, and lower education costs. They’re the ones we should be helping, and not the Romney super-rich who Republicans like Paul Ryan are currently trying to give a $3 trillion tax cut to.

In the best of the rest of the news…

As Greeks run to the bank to pull out euros in preparation for a possible bankruptcy, economic meltdown, and exit from the Euro – the nation of Spain is also starting to collapse under trickle-down austerity. New economic numbers show Spain fell back into a recession in the first quarter of this year – with its economy shrinking by .3%. Spain has the fourth biggest economy in the Eurozone, but tops the list when it comes to unemployment with a staggering 24.4% of the nation’s workforce out of a job. Even though austerity is clearly not working – the Spanish government remains committed to lowering deficits through severe budget cuts and eliminating the social safety net. Stay tuned – Greece is in free fall now – but Spain will almost certainly be next.

More signs now that the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan is still ongoing. Sludge samples taken from Tokyo Bay reveal that radioactive cesium contamination has increased in some areas by 13-times since measures were taken last August. Health officials claim the radiation levels pose no immediate risk to the population – but could get worse as contaminated fish filled with radioactive isotopes travel up the food chain into the world’s restaurants and dinner tables. Meanwhile, in the United States – the Associated Press is reporting that nuclear regulators have quietly watered-down US planning for nuclear emergencies. Despite nuclear plants all around the nation ageing beyond their recommended operational lives – nuclear regulators have reduced evacuation zones around them, required fewer exercises for accidents, and relaxed training for emergency officials. In other words, we’re less prepared today to deal with a nuclear disaster than we were before Fukushima happened. This should trouble us all – and remind us that the only safe type of nuclear power – is no nuclear power.

Somewhere, right-wing whacko Pat Buchanan – the self-appointed champion for White America – is trembling in a closet. According to new census data – for the first time ever – minority births have surpassed white births in the United States. The minority population rose to over 36% – and is now projected to surpass America’s white population by as early as 2040. This might explain the rush by Conservatives to pass radical anti-immigration laws that deny young Latinos an education and a job – as well as the rolling back of social safety net programs that lift minorities up, giving them a shot at the American dream. White racists around the nation are seeing their privileged position in our economy under threat – and are working to keep surging minorities down.

A group of men in Congress are trying to take away the rights of women in the nation’s capital. Republican Representative Trent Franks is pushing legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy for women living in Washington, DC. To make matters worse – Mister Franks is barring DC’s only elected lawmaker – Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton – from testifying at the hearing on the bill. He won’t say if she was denied because she represents the district being targeted, or because she’s a woman. After all – Republicans in the House have a history of denying women a voice on issues that affect them most – like a few months back when Congressman Darryl Issa held a hearing on contraceptives but didn’t allow one woman to testify. Not one woman is on this Republican-led committee.

And finally… JP Morgan Chase’s gambling losses continue to rise – jumping from $2 billion to now $3 billion. And while President Obama and Democrats are trying to use this latest case of bankster irresponsibility to argue for more Wall Street regulations – Mitt Romney thinks everything is just fine. In an interview on Wednesday – Romney weighed on the JP Morgan Chase debacle saying this is, “the way America works” and there’s no need for more regulations. So says the guy who wanted Detroit to go bankrupt, and brags that he likes firing people. You’d almost think Romney wants the banksters to take down the economy again. Oh wait, that’s exactly what he wants, since a bad economy is his best chance at winning in November.

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