In today's On the News segment: The global warming heat wave that's been scorching the nation could lead to a food crisis; at least fifteen Republican governors have promised to opt out of the Affordable Care Act; the new Conservative coalition government in Greece is moving forward with harsh, new spending cuts; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The Republicans' plan to destroy the Obama presidency – hatched on inauguration day 2009 – is working. New jobs numbers are out – showing the economy only added a dismal 80,000 jobs in June, which wasn't enough to move the unemployment rate down from 8.2%. The numbers come in well below economists' expectations and suggest the economic recovery is slowing considerably as the effects of 2009's stimulus package wear off. But rather than sign on to more desperately needed stimulus, Republicans would rather watch the economy tank knowing that it improves their election chances in November. On top of that, just like in Europe, we're starting to see the damaging effects of austerity – as once again the public sector shed jobs in June – adding to the more than 600,000 government workers who've been laid off in mostly red states since President Obama took office. This is economic sabotage – and since it's leading to millions of Americans suffering, it's no different than treason.
In screwed news...the Greek people are once again getting a raw deal. Despite promising to renegotiate the bailout deal to soften austerity measures coming down the pike, the new Conservative coalition government in Greece is moving forward with harsh new spending cuts. Even though the New Democracy party supported the bailout and austerity program during the campaign, the Party did promise to soften the austerity blow and have the spending cuts spread out over two years rather than inflicted immediately. But now, in the face of opposition from creditor nations like Germany, Greece is dropping its demands, and accelerating austerity that has already leveled the Greek economy, shooting unemployment up above 20%. At least now, fir the first time since this crisis began, there's an alternative to austerity taking root in nearby France, where the Socialists have taken control and are promising to increase wages for working people, while forcing the super wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes again. Let's hope France succeeds, the whole European continent depends on it.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Republicans Governors around the nation are putting politics ahead of the lives of their constituents. At least 15 Republican Governors have promised to opt-out of Obamacare and not take free money from the federal government to expand their Medicaid programs to cover more of the uninsured. In Republican southern states, adult uninsured populations are projected to shrink by 50% under the expansion. But Governors are saying no way. For example, in South Carolina – where Medicaid expansion would reduce the uninsured population by 76% - Governor Nikki Haley is turning down the funding. The same is true in Louisiana, where Medicaid expansion could cut down on the uninsured by 74%. Studies have shown that lack of health insurance kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. And when a lifeline is offered to these uninsured Americans, Republicans Governors are more than eager to cut it loose.
The United Nations is accusing the world's wealthiest countries of not doing enough to fight global poverty. Citing that the average billionaires' wealth could double over the next 18 years, the UN called for a wealth tax on the world's super rich, in an effort to raise $400 billion a year for help to poor countries. The UN is also calling for a tax on carbon emissions and a tax on financial transactions to raise money. As the author of the UN report, Rob Vos, said "In short, such new financing mechanisms will help donor countries overcome their record of broken promises." Unfortunately, none of these recommendations from the UN are likely to be enacted.
The global warming heat wave that's been scorching the nation could lead to a food crisis. Corn production has slowed under the withering heat, with only 48% of crops nationally considered to be in good or excellent conditions – that's a drop from 56% a week before the record-breaking heat wave. Half of the corn crops in Indiana were deemed to be in poor shape, and only 26% of the corn crops in Illinois were considered to be in good condition. This food shortage is pushing international grain prices back up to levels not seen since the 2008 global food crisis, when more than 250 million more people on the planet flirted with starvation. Climate Change chaos around the globe is just beginning.
For generations, marijuana has been considered the ultimate "gateway drug." But a new study out in the Journal of School Health disproves that theory, and actually find that alcohol – not marijuana – is the ultimate gateway drug. Researchers discovered that the common orthodoxy that marijuana users will move on to try harder drugs is misleading, and that actually, those who start drinking alcohol are the ones more likely to try marijuana and eventually harder drugs. The study showed that seniors in high school who consumed alcohol at least once in their lives were 13 times more likely to sue cigarettes, 16 times more likely to sue marijuana, and 13 times more likely to use harder drugs like cocaine. Researchers concluded that if drug prevention is the goal, then the whole frame needs to be shifted away from marijuana and toward alcohol – one of the most dangerous, yet legal, drugs in America.
And finally...President Obama took a swipe at Fox so-called News on Thursday. While campaigning around Ohio, President Obama stopped at a local bar where a patron informed him that Fox News was playing on the television. The President in jest suggested the patron ought to ask for the channel to be turned since, "the customer is always right." Of course, rumor has it that Fox is already preparing its response to the incident – with a full report blaming one of the President's TV czars for outlawing Fox News, and keeping Americans uninformed about the President's real intention to confiscate everyone's guns and bring Sharia Law to the states. They distort – you decide.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, July 6th, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.
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