In today’s On the News segment: Millions of insurance policies are being canceled across the nation and while blame shifts from insurance companies to Obamacare, Americans still suffer; we have more prisons than schools in the US; for the second time in two decades, conservation groups have stopped uranium mining in the Grand Canyon; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Millions of insurance policies are being canceled across the nation, and while companies are blaming Obamacare – it appears that plain old greed is the real reason. Consumers in California say that their insurance company caused their cancellations, to jack up their premiums under the ACA. Paul Simon and Catherine Corker are suing Anthem Blue Cross in their state, claiming that the company tricked them into giving up their “grandfathered plans” – which they could have kept even after the healthcare law. Their lawsuit states, “Blue Cross concealed information about the consequences of switching plans and intentionally misled its policyholders to encourage the replacement of grandfathered policies.” Just like President Obama said, if these customers liked their healthcare plans, they could have kept them under the healthcare law. But, Blue Cross enticed customers to change policies in 2011, which meant their plans were no longer “grandfathered-in” to the healthcare law. When they were invited to switch plans, customers were not told that they would lose their right to keep their plans, and were not given accurate information about future price increases. And now, Mr. Simon and Ms. Corker want the courts to stop Blue Cross from canceling more plans without allowing customers to switch back to their original policies. If this happened in California, we can only wonder how many more cancellations are the result of the same deceptive tactics.
In screwed news… Our nation has more prisons than we have schools. In fact, we have so many prisons, that if being locked up was considered a job, it would be one of the most popular jobs in America. According to data from the Justice Department, in 2012 there were more than one and a half million inmates in state and federal prisons, and many more if you count inmates in city and county jails. However, there were only about 815,000 constructions workers, 750,000 auto mechanics, and less than a million public schools throughout our nation. We’re spending trillions to lock people up, while education budgets are being slashed throughout our nation. And, when people are incarcerated, they can’t work, and can’t contribute their tax dollars or their production to our economy. It’s time to rethink our national priorities. It makes no sense to incarcerate more people than we educate.
In the best of the rest of the news…
For the second time in two decades, conservation groups have stopped uranium mining in the Grand Canyon. Mining efforts were previously halted back in 1992, but earlier this year, mine owner Energy Fuel Resources, restarted their operations in the canyon. Environmental groups, along with the native-American Havasu Tribe, sued to stop operations – and Energy Fuel Resources agreed to halt their mining activities. Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust, said, “The Canyon Mine threatens irreversible damage to the Havasupai people and [the] Grand Canyon’s water, wildlife, and tourism economy, to this closure is very good news.” However, like previous closures, this could be a temporary victory. Under current policy, so-called “zombie mines” – can reopen without even conducting a new environmental analysis. Conservation groups are thrilled that the Grand Canyon is safe for now, but they say it’s time to block this mine permanently, and protect one our nation’s most prized landmarks for future generations.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels in most areas of our nation are fairly typical today, and they will likely remain that way until the jet stream shifts again. However, there are a few areas of concern. Readings in Frederic, Wisconsin are averaging 51 counts per minute, but levels are spiking at 73, and Tucson, Arizona is seeing spikes of 68. Salisbury, Massachusetts is hovering at 68 counts per minute, but hot rain is being reported, with spikes of 134 – well past the 100 count-per-minute alert level according to RadCast. Our corporate media virtually ignores this important information, butRadCast.org is always working to keep us informed.
Security software provider Arbor Networks alleges that they uncovered an attempt to hack Healthcare.gov. Because of the website’s other technical glitches, it’s hard to determine if people had trouble accessing the exchange because of this hack, or because of existing problems. Marc Eisenbarth, the research manager for Arbor Networks, said that there are obvious political motivations behind the attack. The message they uncovered reads, “Destroy Obama Care,” and calls the healthcare law “an affront to the Constitutional rights of the people.” The experts say that a simple hacking program like the one they found is unlikely to take down the website, but of course, Republicans are using it as an excuse to try and delay access to the exchange. Representative Mike Rogers, chairman of the House intelligence committee, said that Healthcare.gov should be taken down until a more detailed security review can be completed. But, considering that trillions are pumped into numerous security agencies in our country, Americans would be shocked to learn that those agencies can’t handle a simple denial-of-service hack.
And finally… For years, Right-wing media has railed against the evils of SpongeBob Squarepants, but suddenly they’re praising the cartoon sea sponge. On an upcoming episode, SpongeBob gets fired from his job at the Krusty Krab so that his boss can save a whole five cents. Rather than sitting around and collecting unemployment, SpongeBob is determined to find another job. Breitbart.com praised the cartoon icon for not “mooching off the social services of Bikini Bottom,” and the New York Post cheered that “our hero doesn’t end up on food stamps.” In the past, Fox so-called News and others have attacked SpongeBob for supporting workers rights, defending the environment, and what the right has called “promoting homosexuality.” Apparently, these outlets believe that wanting to work is exclusively a conservative value, and SpongeBob is now their hero. They may have missed the point, that most people would prefer to be working rather than unemployed – regardless of social safety net benefits. But, it’s great to see the Right finally embracing a pro-gay, pro-worker, pro-environment mascot – even if he happens to be a sea sponge.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, November 8, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.