On the News With Thom Hartmann: Keystone XL Pipeline Has Been Put on Hold by the State Department, and More

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. The Occupy Burlington movement in Vermont is dealing with the aftermath of a suicide within its camp. Yesterday – the day before Veterans Day – a 35-year-old military veteran shot himself in the head. As one occupier said, “This person clearly needed more help than we were capable of giving him here at this park.” The suicide highlights a disturbing reality on this Veterans Day of just how our nation treats its military heroes. There are currently more than 900,000 homeless Vets in America – and many of them have nowhere else to go than the hundreds of Occupy encampments around the nation…and even that – as we found out yesterday – tragically – isn’t enough to save them. Meanwhile – in Portland a showdown between police and patriotic occupiers might be on the agenda this weekend. The city’s mayor told occupiers they have until 12:01am Sunday morning to leave the park they’ve been camped out in for the last 6 weeks. The mayor cited safety and sanitation concerns, as the Occupy site has become a magnet for Portland's homeless. The police crackdowns that have characterized the 99% movement – from New York City – to Oakland – to Berkeley – will likely continue through the weekend in Portland.

Yesterday – Jefferson County, Alabama filed bankruptcy – and became the latest victim of the high crimes on Wall Street. The decision made by Jefferson county to file bankruptcy represents the largest-ever municipal bankruptcy in American history. In a twisted scheme of corruption and financial manipulation – mega banks JP Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs allegedly paid off elected officials to invest in junk bonds to help finance a new sewer system. But when the junk investments went bust – so too did Jefferson County – running out of money. Meanwhile – the mega banks were unscathed – making enormous profits off of fees. From ripping off customers with fine print and overdraft charges – to swindling an entire county – it’s all in a day’s work for the banksters on Wall Street. That’s why all need to get out there and OCCUPY SOMETHING!

In the best of the rest of the news…

In a rare act of bipartisanship – the Senate yesterday passed two pieces of President Obama’s American Jobs Act…although they were the two pieces least likely to change the nation’s high unemployment rate. By a vote of 95-0 – the Senate approved a bill that gives tax credits to businesses to hire veterans – and a bill that gives a tax break to government contractors. Since neither bill asked millionaires and billionaires to sacrifice a little more and pay their fair share in the name of job creation – Republicans supported the legislation. However the more robust job creation measures – like aid to states to hire more cops, firefighters, and teachers – and spending to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, have all been filibustered by Republicans. But with yesterday’s vote – Republicans can pretend that they’re negotiating – and pretend that they’re interested in fixing the economy – while at the same time holding to their agenda to crash the economy ahead of the 2012 elections.

On the heels of troubling new Census numbers showing that more than 49 million American live in poverty, there’s a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities – or CBPP – that shows the situation could be a lot worse…that is, if Republicans get their way. While Republicans campaign against critical social safety net programs – from Medicare to Social Security – the new report by CBPP shows that the number of Americans living in poverty would DOUBLE without the social safety net. More than a quarter of Americans – more than 28% – would be living in poverty and desperation if indeed Republicans succeed in destroying the New Deal as they intend to do if they win the next election. Without the social safety net – welcome to neo-feudalism. It’s time to remember what the purpose of government is – and that’s to create and nurture a healthy middle class – Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit Of Happiness – not to just insulate transnational corporations and a few millionaires and billionaires.

Welcome to Gitmo – officially the world’s most expensive prison. According to a new report by the Miami Herald, Guantanamo Bay – by leaps and bounds – outspends any other prison in the entire world. Despite an operating budget of $139 million last year, Gitmo only houses 171 detainees, which means roughly $800,000 is spent locking up each so-called terrorist. That’s thirty times more expensive than the average costs in other prisons. And while we may be able to put a price tag on the operations at Gitmo – what we can’t put a price tag on is the bad reputation the prison facility gives our nation around the rest of the world. It’s time for Republicans to drop their filibuster against shutting down Gitmo – so that we can save money and begin restoring our image around the world.

Put the pipeline on hold. Approval for the controversial, and extremely dangerous, Keystone XL pipeline has been put on hold by the State Department. According to a report by Reuters – it looked all but guaranteed that the transnational pipeline to pump toxic tar sands oil from Canada down to Texas would be approved by the White House. But now, there’s a glimmer of hope for environmentalist – and all Americans who don’t want natural parks coated with oil. The State Department is re-examining the pipeline – meaning it likely won’t be until 2013 that a final decision is made on whether or not to approve it. With the nation mobilized against Wall Street – it’s no longer far-fetched in this day and age that a grassroots environmental movement – as we’ve seen with the opposition to the Keystone Pipeline – can be successful in backing down the oil barons in Texas.

Crazy Alert! From having no bars to being behind bars. A 48-year-old Illinois man was arrested yesterday after he called 9-1-1 five different times to report a serious emergency…his I-Phone wasn’t working! That’s right – after the fifth call complaining about his I-Phone to a 9-1-1 dispatcher – police arrived at the home of Michael Skopec to find out just what the heck was going on. They found him – heavily intoxicated – and arrested him on charges of obstructing and resisting a peace officer. At least in prison, Skopec will have access to a phone that works…although he'll be allowed just one call.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, November 11th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.