On the News With Thom Hartmann: The IRS Can Go After People Who Stash Fortunes Overseas, and More

In today’s On the News segment: The Southern District Court of New York says the IRS can go after people who stash fortunes overseas; Japanese officials want to lower the cost of decontaminating the area around Fukushima by changing the way the nuclear radiation will be measured; the Rolling Jubilee has eliminated nearly $15 million dollars of American debt; and more.


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

You need to know this. The Southern District Court of New York says the IRS can go after people who stash fortunes overseas. U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood authorized the agency to issue summonses that require Citibank and New York Mellon to hand over information about U.S. taxpayers who’ve been evading federal taxes. By stashing millions in undisclosed accounts overseas, many of the ultra-rich have avoided paying their fair share, but that may soon be over thanks to Judge Wood. The Court also granted permission for so-called “John Doe” summons to be issued to Bank of America, JPMorgan, and HSBC. The IRS will use these John Doe summons to identify tax fraud perpetrators, who lie about their overseas income and assets. For far too long, the rich have stashed huge fortunes in tax havens overseas, and contributed as little as possible to our commons. With new international tax agreements – like the one signed earlier this year between the US and Switzerland – and the IRS now able to investigate overseas tax fraud, the corporate elite may soon have a tougher time skipping out on contributing to our country. It is our commons, and our production, that allowed many of those at the top to become wealthy, and they should pay for the privilege of doing business here. Thanks to Judge Kimda Wood, the IRS can now hold accountable those who attempt to evade their legal – and moral – responsibility to pay their taxes.

In screwed news… Japanese officials want to lower the cost of decontaminating the area around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Rather than using different clean up methods, or negotiating prices, they’re simply changing the way the nuclear radiation will be measured around that site. The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved a change to the way radiation doses are measured around Fukushima, and that change will result in lower readings, even though the amount of radiation hasn’t gone down. Using the lower readings, Japan hopes to convince evacuees to return to their homes, and reduce costs for cleaning up the area. Observers says that if the proposed change is instituted, it would further damage public trust. Already, many people in that nation question whether they’re being given accurate information about the dangers of radiation exposure, and officials suddenly saying everything is fine will likely be met with doubt.

In the best of the rest of the news…

In just one year, the Rolling Jubilee has eliminated nearly $15 million dollars of American debt. The Occupy Wall Street’s Strike Debt movement has spent $400,000 to purchase old debts, and simply abolished it, to free people from their back-due bills. The movement started back in November of 2012, when the group started raising money to purchase old medical debts, and issued letters to individuals saying that those bills would no longer haunt them. Originally, Strike Debt hoped to buy debt cheaply enough to get a 20 to 1 return – writing off $1 million dollars of debt for every $50,000 that they spent. However, they’ve been able to buy debt more cheaply than expected, and abolish more than 37 times the amount that they purchased. Outside of helping individuals, the original purpose of Strike Debt was to raise awareness of the predatory secondary debt market, and highlight how many people are suffering under the weight of past medical bills. What they have done is nothing short of heroic, and hopefully they’ll continue this important fight.

According to RadCast.org, the radiation waves we heard about yesterday continue to bring erratic levels to different areas of our country. Today, levels in Eastern Colorado are hitting 57 counts per minute, and spiking at 75. In the Southwest, Chino Valley, Arizona is hovering at 55, with spikes at 70 counts per minute, and Henderson, Nevada is seeing spikes of 59. Closer to the East Coast, Charleston, West Virginia is seeing 43 counts per minute, with spikes of 56, and Huntsville, Alabama is hitting 42, with spikes at 57 counts per minute. RadCast also reports that there was a safety equipment failure last week at a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Richland, Washington. Although personnel at the plant say that any radiation release was “negligible”, some uranium particles were released in that area because of the failure. The corporate news won’t report on this vital information, but thankfully RadCast.org is working to keep us informed.

And finally… Ford Motor Company wants nothing to do with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. After the embattled mayor admitted to using crack cocaine while in office, some of his supported created shirts that said “Ford Nation” – and they used the well-known oval logo in their designs. The car manufacturer quickly vowed to protect their iconic image from being misused in support of Mayor Ford. A company spokesman said, “Ford did not grant permission for use of its logo. We view it as an unauthorized use of our trademark and have asked it to be stopped.” Somehow, despite the drug use and his refusal to step down, the Toronto mayor still has supporters. No news on whether Chevy has warned Rob Ford’s supporters to stay away from their tag line – “built like a rock” – but we doubt that they’d approve.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, November 14, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky, sitting in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.