In today's On the News segment: Public-sector employment is at its lowest level since 1968, Texas is preparing to execute a mentally disabled man tomorrow, new report tallies teaching job losses at 200,000-300,000, and more.
Jim Javinsky here in for Thom Hartmann– on the news...
You need to know this. For the second time in two weeks, the nation is reeling from a mass shooting. This time it was in Oak Creek, Wisconsin where a gunman walked into a Sikh temple armed to the teeth and opened fire – killing six people. We may never know the shooter's motivation since he was killed as well. According to early reports – the shooter was an Army veteran who may have been a white supremacist. Eyewitnesses report the shooter had a 9/11 tattoo on his arm. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence released a statement reminding Americans just how common mass shootings are now in America saying, "There have now been 61 mass shootings since the tragedy last year in Tucson and 100 school shootings since the one at Columbine High School. Tomorrow, another 32 Americans will be murdered by guns." But beyond gun violence, this latest mass shooting may also be a result of growing Islamophobia in America. The shooting occurs just weeks after Congressional Republicans led by Michele Bachmann warned of an infiltration of the U.S. government by the Muslim Brotherhood. And while Sikhs are not Muslims – that distinction is often lost on the frightened and the naïve who are whipped into action by Islamophobes and encouraged to "take their country back." Keep an eye on this story.
When you hear Republicans yell about how President Obama is expanding the size of government – they're either lying or they're uninformed. According to new numbers released by the Labor Department, government employment is now at its lowest level since 1968. In other words, government is smaller than it's ever been in nearly a half-century. That has a lot to do with Republicans pushing austerity at both the state and federal level – laying off hundreds of thousands of public workers since President Obama took office in 20-09. Just last month, 9,000 government workers lost their job in addition to the 680,000 government workers who've been laid off over the last three years – the worst three years for government employment in history. Unlike Presidents Bush and Reagan who INCREASED government employment to fight back a recession, President Obama has been forced by Republicans to cut government employees – which is hampering any sort of robust recovery.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Speaking of public sector layoffs, the United States has become no place for teachers. According to research done by the Hamilton Project, our nation has lost more than 200,000 teaching jobs – and perhaps as many as 300,000 – since 2009. These layoffs are occurring at the state-level – where cash-strapped states don't have enough money to fund education budgets, and Republican governors are pushing for tax cuts for the rich rather than investments in the future. No nation has ever achieved prosperity by investing in more billionaires than more teachers.
Seven minutes of terror turned into seven minutes of accomplishment last night as the Mars Curiosity rover touched down on the red planet to begin two years of experimentation into whether or not the planet once held life. The Mars Science Laboratory – as it's officially called – lifted off from Earth last November – and ended its several hundred million mile journey at roughly 1:30 am eastern time - touching down flawlessly on the Martian surface in an area known as Gale Crater. Unfortunately, this may be NASA's last ditch effort at space exploration, as the future of space travel includes budget cuts and a new partnership with the private sector focusing on commercial space exploration – rather than scientific discovery. As in, space will soon be the place where billionaires can cut a fat check and take a ride in orbit.
Despite the Supreme Court ruling in 20-02 that executing the mentally disabled violates the eighth amendment of the Constitution – Texas is poised to execute a mentally disabled man on Tuesday. 54-year-old Marvin Wilson killed a police informant in 1992, is mentally disabled, and has a reading and writing level comparable to a seventh-grader, with an IQ of 61. Despite a scientific consensus proving that, the state of Texas has its own criteria to determine mental disabilities – and Wilson doesn't pass the test. According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the factors Texas used to determine mental disability are, "based on false stereotypes about mental retardation that effectively exclude all but the most severely incapacitated." As a result, a man is going to die tomorrow, and Texas Governor Rick Perry gets to carve another notch in his belt.
And finally...the nation of Iceland is taking the lead when it comes to breaking up the big banks. Icelandic lawmakers are pushing legislation to force banks to split up their business – separating commercial banking practices from risky investment banking practices. That's similar to what the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 did in this country – creating an unprecedented 5 decades of economic growth without a serious financial crash. That act was officially repealed in 1999, setting up the financial disaster of 20-07 and 20-08. If Iceland succeeds in breaking up its big banks, then according to Bloomberg News, it will be the first western nation since the global economic crisis to take these necessary steps to turn banking back into the boring, useful, and safe industry it used to be. Let's hope policy makers in the United States are paying attention.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, August 06, 20-12. I'm Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.