On the News With Thom Hartmann: Not Jailing Marijuana Users Saved Philadelphia Over $2 Million, and More


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. More debt-limit negotiations at the White House last night – still no deal. President Obama is trying to get Republicans on board with a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan – that includes $3 trillions of spending cuts mostly targeting working families and $1 trillion in revenue raisers from rich people. Even though Republicans are getting 75% of what they want in this compromise – they still won’t make a deal. But after hearing what Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – the second most powerful Republican in the country – had to say in an interview Sunday morning before the negotiations – it’s no wonder why. Asked if making President Obama a one-term president is still his single most important goal as he said it was last year – McConnell said, “that is true. That’s my single most important political goal, along with every active Republican in the country.” What we are seeing unfold in our nation right now is the Republican Party dragging America into complete collapse – just so they can win the White House in 2012 and privatize Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security – and give their millionaire and billionaire corporate buddies another fat tax cut. Welcome to Reaganomics on steroids.

Our unequal society is killing off hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. A new study by the American Journal of Public Health takes a look at how certain social factors contribute to early deaths. Looking at just the year 2000 – the study found that 245,000 Americans died because they didn’t receive a quality education. More than 160,000 Americans died because of a lack of social support. And – nearly 120,000 people died because of income inequality. Yet – Republicans are worsening the education system by gutting public schools – worsening our social supports by pushing for cuts to the social safety net – and worsening wealth inequality with their massive tax cuts for the rich. We’re not talking about political differences anymore – we’re talking about life and death – and the disease of inequality that’s infecting America.

In the best of the rest of the news…

More bad news for Rupert Murdoch’s infotainment media empire. A report out of the UK says that Murdoch’s now-shuttered tabloid “News of the World” attempted to pay off a New York police officer for access to the phone records of a 9/11 victim – the offer was rejected by the police officer. In other bad news for Murdoch – it looks like the media mogul’s bid to buy British broadcaster BSkyB could be blocked by the UK Parliament following the “News of the World” phone hacking scandal. BSkyB is a very-profitable pay-TV satellite in the UK – and a gem that Murdoch has had his eyes set on for a while. Meanwhile – here in the US – Murdoch’s NewsCorp could face a $100 million bill from the US Department of Justice that may soon be launching an investigation into NewsCorp for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act after it was learned that “News of the World” routinely paid off corrupted British police officers. No word yet if the Justice Department or FCC are yet looking into deliberate spins and lies over at Murdoch-owned Fox News.

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No resolution in sight for the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan – at least not anytime soon. A Japanese expert on nuclear power plants admitted over the weekend that it would take 10 years to remove the radioactive fuel rods from the crippled nuclear plant. Using what happened at Three Mile Island as a guide – nuclear expert Koji Okamoto admitted that the accident at Fukushima is 20 times worse than the accident at Three Mile Island and will thus require a lot more time to clean up. The area will be a deadly-zone for thousands of years.

Add Rick Santorum to the list of Republicans willing to sell their soul to the radical right just to pick up a few extra votes in Iowa. Last week – Michele Bachmann inked her name to a now infamous pledge put out by the right-wing religious organization – The Family Leader – that asserts African American children are WORSE off today under, “the nation’s first African American President” – than they were under slavery. The pledge also compares same-sex marriage to bigamy – warns of Sharia Law – and – get this – bans pornography. But not to be out-crazied by Bachmann – Santorum put his “John Hancock” on the pledge as well on Friday. Even the organization itself has since removed the slavery references in the pledge – acknowledging they could be “misconstrued.” But Bachmann and Santorum had no problems with the language. We have top Republican Presidential candidates signing pledges to run America like a theocracy. Will some sane Republicans please reclaim the Party?

If lawmakers really want to reduce the debt – then end the “War on Drugs.” Last year – the city of Philadelphia changed their law enforcement approach to marijuana – and stopped jailing people for having less than 30 grams of marijuana. Now – the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office admits this new approach has saved the city over $2 million. A lot of savings can be found when a city doesn’t need to pay for defense attorney’s prosecutors, and lab tests just to bust someone for having some pot on them. Police also admit that more relaxed marijuana laws have had no effect on the city’s quality of life. We need to take a lesson from Philadelphia – and end Richard Nixon’s Drug War.

Crazy Alert! A slippery criminal. Ohio police are looking for a banana accused of assaulting a gorilla. That’s right – a man dressed up in a gorilla costume for a promotional stunt was standing outside a cell phone store in Strongville, Ohio – when out of nowhere another man – this one dressed up in a banana suit – ran up and attacked the gorilla – knocking him to the ground. After the altercation – the banana man fled the scene. Unclear what the motive of the take-down was – beyond the ironic retribution of a banana getting the best of a monkey. Which means anyone dressed as a rabbit today – should be on the lookout for menacing carrots.

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