In today’s On the News segment: The ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan is prompting that government to take action and rid the nation of nuclear power; the Republican Study Committee is reaching out to ALEC and plans to host a joint gathering at the Heritage Foundation to exchange ideas for the future; the United States is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to educating children; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The Arab Spring turned ugly in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, as angry crowds stormed U.S. diplomatic buildings killing Christopher Stevens – the U.S. Ambassador to Libya – and three other American diplomats. The deadly attack occurred on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as an angry mob firing machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades stormed the building and set it on fire. Stevens is the first U.S. Ambassador to be killed on duty in more than 30 years. The attack in Libya occurred just hours after angry protestors stormed the U.S. Embassy in Egypt – climbing the walls, taking down the American flag, and hoisting up a black Islamic banner. Both attacks were prompted by a movie made here in the United States by a California filmmaker who claims to be both American and Israeli. The movie depicts the prophet Muhammad as a fraudster and womanizer – something that is deeply offensive to the Muslim faith. The film was promoted by anti- Muslims organizations and a trailer for it was posted on Youtube sparking the outrage. According to the filmmaker, who is now in hiding in the United States, he made the film to show that Islam is a “cancer.” President Obama strongly condemned the attacks and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released a statement saying, “we are heartbroken.” On the other hand, Mitt Romney and Republicans have used this tragedy to launch political attacks on the President – claiming that he sympathizes with the attackers. Of course Romney has employed the same foreign policy hacks and Islamophobes who served under George W. Bush. This all demonstrates the damage Islamophobia at home can do to our troops and diplomats abroad. And while we can’t make judgments on millions of Egyptians and Libyans based on the senseless acts of an angry mob any more than we can condemn Los Angeles for the riots after the Rodney King beating – we can say there are deep grievances that go way beyond religion in these nations that must be resolved before the dreams of the Arab Spring can finally be fulfilled.
In screwed news … the Republican Party is embracing the corporatocracy. Roll Call is reporting that the Republican Study Committee is reaching out to the American Legislative Exchange Council – or ALEC – and plans to host a joint gathering at the Heritage Foundation to exchange ideas for the future. For those who don’t know – ALEC is a Koch-funded corporate thinktank where corporate executives write legislation, which is then handed off to Republicans lawmakers to get passed. ALEC is responsible for shoot first laws, Voter Supression ID laws, and anti-tax laws. Until now, ALEC has been very influential on a state level. But with Republicans in Congress reaching out to ALEC – it looks like the corporatocracy will now have a lot more influence on federal policy, too.
In the best of the rest of the news…
The United States is falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to educating children. A new report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that the United States ranks a dismal 28th out of 38 developed nations when it comes to enrolling kids in early childhood education. In America, only 69% of four-year-olds are enrolled in education programs – compared to 95% in nations like France, Mexico, and Spain. It just so happens that the United States also spends far less public money on early education programs than other developed nations in Europe. Our priorities in America must be re-ordered if we want to compete in the global economy this century. Educating our young children should rank above giving more tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires like Mitt Romney.
The U.S. military announced that a Gitmo detainee was found dead in his cell on Monday. The cause of his death is unknown and an official investigation has been launched. He is the ninth Gitmo detainee to die while incarcerated at the controversial prison camp – and it should be noted that he had not been charged with any crime nor had he been scheduled for any trial. There are still nearly 170 prisoners at Gitmo – and many have not been charged with any crimes whatsoever. The President promised to close Gitmo – and has tried – but Republicans in Congress have blocked those efforts repeatedly over the last three years. As long as Gitmo stays open, the United States will have a scar on its human rights record.
More than 300 people were killed in Pakistan in two factory fires. The deadliest fire occurred in a garment factory in Karachi on Tuesday night, killing at least 289 people. These fires draw attention to the poor record of workplace safety conditions in Pakistan, where factories don’t have emergency exits, safety equipment, or fire sprinklers. This happened in the United States, back in 1911 when the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire killed 146 garment workers in New York City due to poor safety conditions. Republicans want to get government out of business, and repeal regulations that ensure workplace safety. Let’s hope that what happened in Pakistan and what’s happened in our own past reminds them that the government does have a role making sure workers are safe.
And finally … the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan is prompting that government to take action and rid the nation of nuclear power. According to a Japanese newspaper – the Japanese Prime Minister is expected to announce a permanent shutdown of all nuclear power in the nation within the next three decades. Hundreds of thousands of protestors have flooded the streets of Tokyo in recent months calling for an end to nuclear power. Now it appears their government is listening to them. Just like the government of Germany is listening to its citizens and abandoning all nuclear power by 2022. So for those of us in the United States who want no nukes – this means we need to speak a lot louder.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, September 12, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.