On the News With Thom Hartmann: South Africa Is Reeling After Police Kill 34 Striking Miners, and More

In today’s On the News segment: South Africa is reeling after police opened fire on striking miners Thursday, killing 34 people and wounding 78; suicides among active duty US Army soldiers doubled in July compared to the month of June; the Obama Campaign offered to drop the tax scandal issue if Mitt Romney would just release five years of tax returns, but Romney declined; and more.


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

You need to know this. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is slated to give a big speech at the Republican National Convention – but let’s hope the topic isn’t economics. According to new numbers released by the Labor Department – Christie’s economics cost his state 12,000 jobs in July – and New Jersey’s unemployment rate ticked up to 9.8% – well above the national unemployment rate. That’s the highest mark since 1977. Clearly, this is an indication that Governor Christie’s austerity agenda isn’t working. Similar poor jobs numbers have been seen in Wisconsin too – where Governor Scott Walker’s austerity agenda has been a failure as well. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as the devastating effects of austerity have been on clear display in Europe for years – and economists are warning that the entire continent is headed toward a “Lost Decade.” The question for austerity-happy Republicans like Governor Chris Christie is: why do they want to commit Americans to a lost decade, as well?

The Bush recession has hit non-college educated workers the hardest. A new study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown shows that more than 5 million workers without a college degree have lost their jobs since the economy went into meltdown in 20-08. To make matters worse, it’s increasingly more difficult to obtain a college degree in America. As Bloomberg News reports, since 1978 the price of a college degree has increased by more than 1-120% – much higher than most other essentials like healthcare, housing, and food. If this trend continues, then people born today should expect to spend more than $400,000 on a college degree by the time they become of age. College has now become a luxury only for the rich – and not a tool that anyone can use to achieve the American Dream – like it used to be. In order to create a more egalitarian economy and bring back the middle class – we need to do what other developed nations are doing: make college free.

In the best of the rest of the news…

South Africa is reeling after police opened fire on striking miners Thursday, killing 34 people and wounding 78. The massacre caps off a week-long strike with workers demanding a monthly-salary increase from $625 to over $1,500 – and calls to nationalize South Africa’s mines. Police defended their actions, saying non-lethal force like water cannons and tear gas was used first, but after miners wielding machetes rushed a police line, they had no other choice but to open fire. An official investigation has been launched. The struggle working people are facing isn’t just exclusive to South Africa or the United States – it’s a global struggle up against the forces of globalism and transnational corporate power.

The Pentagon announced that suicides among active duty US Army soldiers doubled in July compared to the month of June. A staggering 26 soldiers committed suicide last month – more than double the 12 soldiers who killed themselves in June. Since the Army began documenting suicides on a monthly basis – last July was the deadliest ever recorded. So far this year, 116 Army soldiers have committed suicide – which is on pace to surpass last year’s total of 167. As the U.S. Army’s vice chief of staff, General Lloyd Austin said, “Suicide is the toughest enemy I have faced in my 37 years in the Army.” Afghanistan is our nation’s longest war – and the toll it’s taking on our soldiers in painfully obvious. Time to end our wars and bring our troops home.

A Federal court in Washington, DC has slowed Florida Governor Rick Scott’s attempts to keep Democratic voters away from the polls in November. Last year – the Republican state legislature slashed the number of days for early voting from 12 to 8. But on Thursday, a federal court overturned that change ruling that it disproportionately affects minorities who rely on early voting. As the court said, “We conclude that we cannot preclear Florida’s early voting changes at this time because the State has failed to satisfy its burden of proving that those changes will not have a retrogressive effect on minority voters.” Back to the drawing board for Governor Scott, he only has a few months to figure out a way to rig the election for his Republicans buddies.

The standoff continues outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London – one day after Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum. The UK’s Foreign Minister – William Hague – announced that Ecuador’s decision changes nothing – and that British authorities are still committed to extraditing Assange to Sweden to facing questioning on sexual assault allegations. In other words, the UK is refusing to grant Assange safe passage out of their country to Ecuador – as international law recommends. Hague also warned that this saga could continue – with Assange being holed up in the embassy for months or even years. Speaking truth to power always has consequences.

And finally… Mitt Romney’s tax return-gate isn’t going away anytime soon. Today – the Obama Campaign reached out to Mitt Romney with a deal: just release five years of tax returns, and they’ll drop the issue. The Romney campaign rejected the deal, and once again claimed that Romney has paid at least a 13% tax rate – still well below what most working Americans pay – each year for the last decade. That claims runs counter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s allegations that Romney paid a zero-percent tax rate over the last ten years. One thing is for certain though – if Romney and Ryan win the White House – then Romney will pay a close to zero percent tax rate – as the Paul Ryan budget recommends. In other words, these guys are running for President to give themselves a giant tax break. Do they have your vote?

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, August 17, 2012. I’m Jim Javinsky, in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.