On the News With Thom Hartmann: Low Income Residents in Washington Losing Homes for as Little as $44, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The President will sit down for interviews with six major news networks tonight, and call on Congress to approve the military strike; since 2005, investors have seized almost 200 homes in low-income areas in Washington DC, and about one out of every three were debts under $1,000; Sen. Elizabeth Warren denounced the United States Supreme Court as “an instrument of the wealthy”; and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. On Monday night, President Obama will make his case to the media for military action in Syria. The President will sit down for interviews with six major news networks, and call on Congress to approve the military strike. His task is complicated by strong opposition from members of Congress, and a vast majority of the American public. And, his case for war is being challenged further by new reports from the German press – reports that conflict much of the so-called evidence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is behind the chemical weapons attacks. According to the Guardian Newspaper, press reports in Germany allege that Assad did not order the attacks, and, in fact, blocked requests from his commanders to use chemical weapons against rebel forces. However, the Guardian states that these German intelligence findings actually support the Obama Administration claims “that elements of the Assad regime, and not renegade rebel groups, were responsible for the attack.” These new reports strengthen international suspicions that President Assad is no longer in full control of the Syrian military, but they also make President Obama’s case for war even more difficult to prove. Conflicting intelligence reports call into question the information being presented to Congress, who will start debating a military strike this week. Intelligence reports given to U.S. lawmakers could be inaccurate, or, at the very least, incomplete. And, according to a New York Times op-ed by Congressman Alan Grayson, our lawmakers aren’t even permitted to verify the case for war that they’re being given. President Obama faces an uphill battle to gain the support of our elected leaders, and our fellow Americans, for military action in Syria. And, with this new information contradicting American intelligence, the President’s climb for congressional approval just became a lot steeper.

In screwed news… Low-income residents in Washington, DC are losing their homes over debts as small as $44 dollars. According to the Washington Post, that city is auctioning off property tax debt, and investors are buying it up, jacking up the bills with interest and other charges, and then foreclosing on people’s homes. Since 2005, investors have seized almost 200 homes in low-income areas, and about one out of every three were debts under $1,000. The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue said property owners would not be inclined to pay their tax bills without the program, but opponents says that investors are preying on vulnerable homeowners. Many of the homes they foreclosed on belonged to elderly people, some of whom were dying in hospice care, or being treated for Alzheimer’s in nursing homes. City officials recently changed the program, to stop auctioning off tax debts of less than $1,000, but housing advocates say they won’t stop fighting until they get more protections for low-income home owners.

In the best of the rest of the news…

On Sunday, Senator Elizabeth Warren spoke to a crowd about the “corporate capture of the federal courts.” Speaking to attendees of the AFL-CIO convention, Sen. Warren denounced the United States Supreme Court as “an instrument of the wealthy,” that typically sides with corporate interests. She said, “You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.” During her speech, Senator Warren railed against corporate power, unfair trade deals, and the need for more regulation to protect American consumers. According to Politico, the tone of her speech was grim, but she closed with a heartfelt promise. She said, “I am proud to stand with you, to march with you, to fight with. Our agenda is America’s agenda, and if we fight for it, we win.”

The Boston Public School system wants to make sure that every child has enough to eat. Starting this year, all Boston-area public schools will serve free lunch to every student, regardless of their family’s income. According to the school district, last year about 80 percent of students already qualified for free lunch, but income guidelines left many kids just out of reach of a full meal. This new policy in Boston is part of a national program called “Community Eligibility Option,” and it’s also helping kids in Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, and parts of New York City. The program will remove the social stigma for kids who rely on free meals, and ensure that fewer children are going hungry. Many Americans think this is common sense… we are the richest nation in the world, and every child in our country should have enough to eat.

And finally…The neighborhood around Westboro Baptist Church is about to get a lot more fabulous. The non-profit group Planting Peace has a new idea to increase awareness of LGBT-youth issues. Recently, the group bought a home near the church, painted it in rainbow colors, and set up the “Equality House,” And now, they’re planning a “Drag Walk” around the neighborhood to raise money for charity. Their announcement reads, “On October 26th, Planting Peace will be hosting the first annual Equality House drag themed walk-a-thon. We are inviting you, your family, and your friends to come out and parade with us around the Westboro Baptist Church with us, whether in costume or not.” Aaron Jackson, the co-founder of Planting Peace, said that while the event has a fun theme, its main intent is to raise awareness of LGBT concerns and suicide rates among LGBT teens. He said, “Although we intend for everyone to go ‘all out’ and have fun with this event, the cause itself is a very serious one.” Just as they did with the “Equality House,” Aaron Jackson and Planting Peace will bring national attention to important issues. And, if, in the process, they happen to make the Fred Phelps a uncomfortable, well that’s just an extra bonus.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, September 9, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.