On the News With Thom Hartmann: Movement Against Standardized Testing Grows, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The NRA’s enemies list includes major health, education and law enforcement professional organizations, and more.

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

You need to know this. If the NRA, and its foaming-at-the-mouth leader, Wayne LaPierre weren’t scary enough, it turns out the gun-happy organization has now created an enemies list. As the ThinkProgress blog points out – the NRA’s “Nixonian enemies list” is comprised of individuals, and organizations, that have “lent monetary, grassroots or some other type of direct support to an anti-gun organization.” The list includes medical organizations, that often have to deal with gun violence first hand in hospitals, like the American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association. The list also includes educators, who are now too often the victims of gun violence, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. Law enforcement groups tasked with patrolling gun violence also made the list, like the National Association of Police Organizations. So, too, have religious organizations, and even several musicians, like Art Garfunkel, Frank Zappa, and Boyz 2 Men. Apparently, MacGyver even made the list. And the NRA’s descent into madness continues.

In screwed news…if at first you don’t succeed at rigging an election, then try, try, try again. After a few legislative defeats, and several prominent Republicans coming out against plans to rig the Electoral College in several blue states, it looked as though Republicans had come to their senses about pursuing these blatantly undemocratic tactics, to try and steal the election. But Republicans in Pennsylvania have now said, “not so fast.” According to the New Castle News, Pennsylvania’s Republican state Senate leader, Dominic Pileggi, will introduce legislation that divides the states Electoral College votes proportionately, based on the popular vote – rather than the winner-take-all system, that’s currently in place. Had this plan been in effect last November, Mitt Romney would have received 8 of Pennsylvania’s Electoral College votes, rather than the zero he actually received. While this won’t benefit Republicans quite as much as the last scheme, which doled out Electoral College votes based on Congressional districts, it will still make it much more difficult for Democrats to win the White House in future elections. That’s why this effort in Pennsylvania, cannot be ignored.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Super Bowl 47 is in the books – and the Baltimore Ravens captured their second world championship on Sunday night. In what was dubbed “The Har-bowl” with two competing Harbaugh brothers coaching both teams, the Ravens were able to hold off a huge comeback in the second half by the 49ers. The game didn’t exactly go off without a hitch though. A massive power outage in the stadium, at the start of the second half, delayed the game by more than a half-hour. It’s also worth mentioning that the Superdome in New Orleans, which hosted last night’s game, was renovated to accommodate the Super Bowl, thanks in large part to $470 million of taxpayer funds, following Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately most of the financial gains from hosting the Super Bowl won’t go to the taxpayers, but instead billionaire sports-team owners.

We don’t need no standardized tests! Across the nation, more and more teachers are fighting back against mandatory standardized testing. Over the last few decades, the use of standardized testing in our schools has exploded, as part of the corporate school reform agenda. These tests do little to improve the actual education of students, but do funnel huge profits to standardized testing companies. In Seattle, teachers at three schools have come forward saying the will sit out this year’s mandatory testing. Teachers in Providence, Rhode Island and Portland, Oregon have also stood up against their states’ standardized testing regime. And in Illinois, the Chicago Teachers Union launched a new campaign last week, to eliminate certain types of standardized testing. This movement is growing – stay tuned.

In the post-Bush Great Recession economy, it’s harder and harder for Americans to have a good retirement. According to a new survey by the organization – Conference Board – two-thirds of workers between the ages of 45 and 60, are now planning to delay their retirement. That’s a big jump from 2010 – when only 42% of workers had plans to put off their retirement. Job losses, low salaries, and declining home values are some of the main reason why Americans can no longer stick to their retirement plans.

Vending machines at school may soon disappear. The USDA has proposed a new rule, which could go into effect as early as next year, that would ban most candy, sugar-filled drinks, and greasy foods from being sold in our schools. The new rule would require schools to provide snacks that have less than 200 calories. Over the next 60 days, the USDA will take comments and feedback about the proposed rule. According to data, local and state regulations on unhealthy vending machines may have played a role in slowing childhood obesity rates.

And finally… Abbottabad, Pakistan will forever be remembered as the city where Osama Bin Laden was found, and eventually killed in his compound, by U.S. Special Forces. But the local government wants the city remembered for something else – namely – an amusement park. Pakistan is planning to build a $30 million amusement park and zoo in Abbottabad. The entire complex will span 500 acres, and include restaurants, attractions, and other touristy clubs. The local government says its decision to build the park has nothing to do with the 2011 Bin Laden raid at all – and is strictly about promoting tourism.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, February 4th, 2012. I’m Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.