On the News With Thom Hartmann: We May Be Only Days Away From Launching an Attack on Syria, and More

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In today’s On the News segment: Military action in Syria seems all but certain, and air strikes could happen as early as Thursday according to senior US officials; Utah has spent more than $30,000 dollars testing welfare recipients for drug use, but only identified twelve people using drugs; Starbucks won’t use Obamacare as an excuse to slash employee hours and benefits; and more.


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

You need to know this. We may be only days away from launching an attack on Syria. On Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the use of chemical weapon attacks on civilians was “undeniable,” and that the Obama Administration was prepared to hold the Syrian government accountable. On Tuesday, world leaders in the U.S., Britain, and the United Nations told Syrian rebels to expect an attack on President Bashar al-Assad’s military forces. In an interview with the BBC, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the United States military is “ready to go,” and said, “we are working with the United Nations.” At this point, military action in Syria seems all but certain, and air strikes could happen as early as Thursday according to senior U.S. officials. However, U.S. lawmakers are divided on how to proceed, and many are calling on President Obama to reconvene Congress ,and gain approval before ordering any military action. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, along with Democrat Bill Nelson, support a military strike in Syria, but a large, bi-partisan group of lawmakers disagree. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee said, “While the use of chemical weapons is deeply troubling and unacceptable, I believe there is no military solution to the complex Syrian crisis.” And, Republican Congressman Scott Rigell posed the question, “What does this look like a month out, six months our, a year out?” This situation is evolving rapidly, and it’s unlikely that these important questions will be answered before a decision is made about a military strike. There is no easy solution here, and it’s likely that action against Assad could make matters even worse. All we can do now is watch closely, and hope that our elected leaders work together to agree on the best action. Keep an eye on this.

In screwed news… The state of Utah has spent more than $30,000 dollars testing welfare recipients for drug use, but only identified twelve people using drugs. Essentially, taxpayer money was wasted to enforce the new drug screening law that passed last year, which requires anyone receiving financial assistance to complete a written questionnaire, and then uses those results to demand drug screenings. The state gave 4.730 welfare applicants the written test, and selected 466 of those individuals for drug tests. Out of those tested, only twelve actual drug users were identified. When similar procedures were used in other states, they proved to be nothing but a waste of time and taxpayer money. But, Utah enacted the measure anyway. This law does nothing except humiliate welfare recipients, and treat people as if it’s a crime to be poor. Hopefully these results will expose the program for what it is – just another way to discourage anyone from collecting financial assistance they need to survive.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The CEO of Starbucks won’t use Obamacare as an excuse to slash employee hours and benefits. In an interview with Reuters, Howard Shultz said that just because other restaurants and chains are slashing hours and spousal benefits, does not mean that he will follow suit. He said, “Starbucks will continue maintaining benefits for partners and won’t use the new law as an excuse to cut benefits or lower benefits for its workers.” Long before Obamacare, Starbucks offered health insurance to employees who work at least 20 hours, and Shultz says the company spends more on healthcare than they do on coffee. But, he has always refused to cut benefits his workers rely on, and he isn’t about to start now because of the new healthcare law. In the past, Shultz has advocated raising the minimum wage, said his company supports marriage equality, and told opponents of gay marriage that they are welcome to sell their Starbucks stock. So, it’s no surprise that, once again, Howard Shultz and Starbucks are standing up for workers’ right to healthcare, even as other companies use the law as an excuse to cut benefits.

On Tuesday, the Michigan state Senate voted 20-18 to expand Medicaid coverage under Obamacare. The measure now has to return to the Michigan House of Representatives, and hopefully move on to Governor Rick Snyder for his signature. If the bill is finally approved, Michigan residents who make up to 138% of the poverty line may be eligible for Medicaid, which means 400,000 Michiganders could be covered. Governor Snyder broke with fellow Republican governors when he announced support for the Medicaid expansion, and it stands a good chance of passing that state’s legislature. If Rick Snyder can come around, there may be hope after all that someday, low-income residents in red states may have access to Medicaid as well.

And finally…Last Wednesday, a Vancouver woman realized that her bike had been stolen. She reported the matter to police, who told her that there wasn’t much they could do to recover the stolen property. However, just one day later, she found that the thief had posted an ad for her bike on Craigslist. After calling the police again, who still refused to help, the woman took matters into her own hands. According to the story she posted on Reddit, she met with the thief, and asked if she could take the bike for a test ride. He responded “yeah, but don’t take off.” So, she hopped on her bike, did a circle around the parking lot, and then kept riding all the way to her friends waiting car. She said the guy looked around for her, got freaked out, and then took off running. Perhaps next time the guys swipes someone’s bike, he’ll think twice before trying to sell it online.

And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, August 28, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.