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On the News With Thom Hartmann: US Retailers Are Refusing to Help Stop Slave Labor, and More

US retailers are refusing to help stop slave labor.

In today’s On the News segment: Walmart and Gap refuse to join major European retailers who announced their plans to implement a sweeping safety agreement to protect garment workers in Bangladesh; after legalizing same-sex marriage in their state, Democratic state senators voted to allow childcare and personal care workers to unionize; and more.


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

You need to know this. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have made their point – they hate Obamacare. And, just in case anyone didn’t get the message the first 36 times they made that point, they’re about to waste even more taxpayer time and money on one more attempt to repeal the healthcare law. According to the Think Progress Blog, since 2011, House Republicans have spent 15 percent of their time – about 90 hours and over $50 million dollars – on the 36 attempts to repeal Obamacare. All of which were doomed to failure because they’d never make it through the Senate, and they’d be subject to a presidential veto. And this latest attempt – which adds another $1.5 million to the tab – isn’t any more likely to succeed. While our nation is struggling to deal with massive Republican austerity, a sluggish economy, and numerous other pressing issues, GOP House members are wasting yet another day on a meaningless vote. This is not service to out country. This is not leadership. This is pure partisan nonsense that will not do a damn thing to help the Americans they’re supposed to represent. Perhaps the first time House Republicans held this vote, they could claim they were fighting for the will of their small but loud base. And maybe even the second time, or the third. But this is the 37th time they’re wasting our tax money on another meaningless vote. It’s time for the House Republicans to knock it off, and get to work.

In screwed news… U.S. retailers are refusing to help stop slave labor. Earlier this week, major European retailers announced their plans to implement a sweeping safety agreement to protect garment workers in Bangladesh. But Walmart and Gap refuse to sign on to the plan. According to the New York Times, Gap has expressed concerns that “overzealous American lawyers could seize on the agreement to sue American companies on behalf of aggrieved factory workers in Bangladesh.” Walmart opposes “governance and dispute resolution mechanisms,” saying these worker protections are, “appropriately left to retailers, suppliers and government, and are unnecessary to achieve fire and safety goals.” Instead, Walmart will use its own so-called safety plan, which labor groups have characterized as “merely aspirational.” We must stand up for those who aren’t given a voice, and start voting with our dollars to let these companies know we won’t stand for their use of slave labor. If Walmart and Gap refuse to protect workers, we’ll start supporting the companies that do.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Minnesota Democrats are on a roll. After legalizing same-sex marriage in their state, Democratic state senators voted to allow childcare and personal care workers to unionize. Because of a filibuster by Republicans, the debate over the unionization bill lasted 17 hours, from 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to 8 a.m. Wednesday morning. During the lengthy floor fight, lawmakers exchanged numerous heated comments. Minnesota Senate Majority Leader, democrat Tom Bakk, told Republicans that their opposition to the union bill showed how “they just care about the wealthy.” And Republican David Hann, the Senate Minority Leader, accused Democrats of supporting the bill to reward unions for political donations. Eventually, Republicans gave up their filibuster, and the bill passed 35 to 32. Minnesota Democrats just showed our nation how to get things done. Our U.S. Lawmakers need to take a lesson from Minnesota. If they were willing to fight this hard, who knows what they could accomplish.

Yesterday, Senator Chuck Schumer got a call from the White House. The Obama Administration is calling on the Democratic senator to reintroduce his “Free Flow of Information Act” to protect journalists from governmental intrusion on their investigations. The President previously opposed the legislation, saying it posed a threat to national security, but it appears the administration is reconsidering, after the Justice Department secretly obtained Associated Press phone records. According to Senator Schumer, his bill may not have prevented the AP’s phone records from being obtained, “but it might have reduced the chances that the Justice Department would have demanded the records in secret.” The Free Flow of Information Act may not be perfect, but it would provide some much-needed protections for journalists, and it would require government officials to provide a legitimate reason to a judge, for infringing on the freedom of the press. Hopefully, Senator Schumer’s bill can overcome a Republican filibuster. Stay tuned.

And finally… A 7-year-old boy in Wisconsin has a brand-new idea for gun control. Chocolate. The boy, known only as Myles, sent his suggestion to Vice President Joe Biden, President Obama, and his U.S. Representative Gwen Moore. According to Myles, if bullets were made out of chocolate, “nobody would get hurt and nobody would be sad.” Well, the Vice President may have a sweet tooth, because he took the time to hand write a response to Myles. He wrote, “If we had guns that shot chocolate, not only would our country be safer, it would be happier. People love chocolate.” Great work Myles! And we nominate you to be the new National Sweet Tooth Association spokesperson.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, May 16, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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