On the News With Thom Hartmann: Labor Is Dealt Two New Blows, and More

In today’s On the News segment: Thursday, two separate events illustrated just how extreme the war on labor has become; climate change deniers continue to encourage the destruction of our environment; Pope Francis condemned the world’s “cult of money” for oppressing the poor; and more.


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

You need to know this. For decades, unions have been fighting to preserve workers’ rights, but that fight just got a lot more difficult. [Thursday], two separate events illustrated just how extreme the war on labor has become. First, Republican judges on Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down President Obama’s recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board. On the same day, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee held a contentious confirmation hearing on current NLRB board appointments. The hearing served as a blatant reminder that nearly every judge and nominee appointed by President Obama has been blocked by Republicans. So, on a single day, right-wing judges rendered the NLRB impotent, and Senate Republicans may obstruct NLRB confirmations, leaving it powerless to protect workers. Without these confirmations, the NLRB will be powerless to enforce workers’ rights to form a union, stand up to abusive working conditions, and force employers to actually negotiate with unions. The Obama Administration has appealed a similar ruling from the D.C. Circuit Court to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the High Court has shown in multiple cases that it favors businesses over workers. The only way to fight this is to demand that the Senate confirms these NLRB appointments, so that the agency can again enforce these vital labor laws. We must demand it. Call your Senators today and tell them to confirm all of Obama’s NLRB appointments.

In screwed news… Climate change deniers continue to encourage the destruction of our environment. Oil companies, big business alliances, and Republican law makers are petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to gut Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Specifically, they want the Court to reverse its 2007 decision, Massachusetts v. EPA, which upheld the EPA’s right to regulate carbon. The petitioners include noted climate-science skeptics Texas Governor Rick Perry, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and Representatives Michelle Bachmann and Marsha Blackburn. Along with groups like the American Petroleum Institute, and the world’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, these Republican lawmakers are calling on the Justices to remove limitations on carbon emissions, and weaken the Clean Water Act. The Justices are expected to decide whether or not hear the case later this year, which seems likely given the conservative makeup of the Court. Keep an eye on this.

In the best of the rest of the news…

When it comes to views on income inequality, America’s Senator, Senator Bernie Sanders, may have a like-minded activist in the Vatican. In a major speech yesterday, Pope Francis condemned the world’s “cult of money” for oppressing the poor. The Pontiff said, “while the income of the minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling.” This is the same message that Senator Sanders has been spreading for years; that the top one percent are getting richer, while the rest of us find it harder just to get by. Senator Sanders commended the Pope, saying, “I applaud the pope for speaking out on these enormously important issues.” Today, low-income workers all over the world are struggling to get by with less money, and their rights are slowly being chipped away. Pope Francis is calling on financial and political leaders to fix the global financial system, and Senator Bernie Sander is leading the fight here at home. The Pope said, “money has to serve, not to rule.” Help make that a reality by joining Bernie Sander’s at MoveToAmend.org.

The Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works has advanced Obama’s nomination for head of the EPA. Yesterday, Gina McCarthy was quickly approved by the committee in a 10 to 8 vote along party lines. McCarthy’s confirmation should now move to the full Senate, but Republican Senator Roy Blunt has a hold on her nomination. Republicans have been boycotting a vote on McCarthy’s confirmation, citing complaints about EPA practices. The committee’s top Republican, David Vitter, said he would support a full Senate vote without a filibuster, if “major additional progress” is made on a list of demands he submitted to Miss McCarthy. In typical Republican fashion, it appears Senator Vitter has created a moving benchmark, which can be cited later as a reason for GOP obstructionism. Considering we recently passed the 400 parts per million threshold of carbon in the atmosphere, it’s vital that a new leader of the EPA is confirmed. Gina McCarthy has made it through one round, now let’s hope the process continues.

And finally… A butcher in Seattle has a new spin on high-quality meat. BB Ranch, and their butcher, William von Schneidau, have introduced “pot pigs” in celebration of marijuana legalization in Washington State. Schneidau teamed up with a local cannabis farmer, who’s donating the leftover pot stems, seeds, and stalks, which are then added to the pigs’ diets for fiber. The website for BB Ranch states that proceeds from a celebratory “pot pig dinner” will go to local charities that support sustainable local farming and the culinary arts. Unfortunately, SeattleMet News says you won’t get intoxicated from eating the meat, but the pigs are a bit more mellow because of their diets. BB Ranch is certainly using a new take on sustainable farming, and they’re putting a whole new meaning to the term “pot-bellied pig.”

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, May 17, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.