In today's On the News Segment: Despite what you might have seen on cable news networks FOX News and CNN, the Supreme Court upheld Obama's health care plan today, banksters and Members of Congress have been downplaying JPMorgan Chase's sudden loss of $2 billion, Arctic sea ice is at its lowest level ever for this time of year, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Despite what you might have seen on cable news networks Fox News and CNN, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare today – ruling that Congress does have the power to penalize Americans who don't buy health insurance – which was how the individual mandate works. Chief Justice John Roberts was the swing vote – siding with the four justices on the left to uphold the law. So just like that – the Right's arguments that President Obama shredded the constitution with his health reform law – go up in smoke. But for progressives out there – this ruling means we have to keep fighting. Ultimately what happened today was that the Supreme Court reinforced our current healthcare system, which relies on private, for-profit health insurance companies. If we're going to truly fix our nation's healthcare system – we have to get rid of the for-profit motive. President Obama took the first step, making sure we're all in this together – that everyone is contributing to everyone's healthcare. Now it's time to go further – time to push for Medicare part E – Medicare for All.
In screwed news...down the street from the Supreme Court, Republicans in the House of Representatives will vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his refusal to hand documents pertaining to an ongoing law enforcement investigation over to small-time criminal and richest man in Congress Darryl Issa. This is the culmination of Issa's crusade to embarrass the White House over the Fast and Furious non-scandal that Republicans have turned into a giant conspiracy theory. The timing of today's vote – which will be overshadowed by big health care news on all the networks except Fox so-called News – suggests that the Republican leadership doesn't have too much faith in Congressman Issa's witch hunt. Not only that – Republicans may be covering their own butts with this vote against Holder. As a Fortune magazine expose on Fast and Furious published Wednesday revealed – ATF agents were unable to stop guns from flowing into Mexico because of laws lobbied for by Republicans and the NRA, which made it virtually impossible to seize even illegal guns. Today's vote is a sham, and an embarrassment to the nation.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Banksters and Members of Congress have been downplaying JP Morgan Chase's sudden loss of $2 billion, and arguing that the loss doesn't mean Wall Street needs more regulations. But now, the New York Times is reporting that the $2 billion dollar bet gone bad might actually turn be a $9 billion bad bet. It's now come out that internal models at the bank project losses as high as $9 billion over the bungled trade. Right about now, Congress should be kicking itself for not pressing JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon harder over what exactly went wrong at the bank. Instead – since Dimon has paid off most Members of the House and Senate Financial Committees – our lawmakers kissed his butt. Let's not make the same mistakes twice – time to regulate Wall Street and turn banking into a safe and boring business once again.
Some had hoped that recent elections in Greece and the formation of a new government there may bring some stability to the financial crisis gripping the nation. But nearly two weeks after the vote, that's clearly not happening, as austerity pushes Greece deeper and deeper into desperation. This week, a group of armed gunman broke into the Microsoft's Greek headquarters and set the building on fire. Also, the Greek Supreme Court had to be evacuated twice after bomb threats, and this year suicide rates in Greece have doubled. As the Center for Economic Policy Research warned in a recent report, ""From the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s to anti-government demonstrations in Greece in 2010-11, austerity has tended to go hand-in-hand with politically motivated violence and social instability." Clearly – this storm is far from over.
The evidence of global climate change continues to pile up. New information from the National Snow and Ice Data Center show that Arctic sea ice is at its lowest level ever for this time of year. Fifty-seven thousand square miles of ice have disappeared – which is more than double the normal rate. There are several dangers to the rapid loss of ice in the Arctic – including changing salt levels in the ocean, which could have major implication on the Gulf Stream and weather patterns. Also, melting ice could lead to the release of methane that could accelerate the warming of the planet, while warmer water is killing off things like phytoplankton, wreaking havoc on the global food chain and threatening the survival of the species on top of the food chain...humans.
The heat is turning up on Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. London Metro police delivered a letter to the Ecuadorian Embassy on Thursday – where Assange has been holed up for more than a week seeking political asylum in Ecuador. The letter warned Assange that he is in violation of his bail agreements and that he has until Friday to turn himself in to London police. Currently, the government of Ecuador is reviewing Assange's application for political asylum – which is based on fears that Assange could be extradited to the United States to face charges of espionage and treason – crimes punishable by death. Keep an eye on this story.
And finally...the fate of Obamacare will play a big role in the Presidential election, but what about the looming threat of an alien invasion? A new survey by National Geographic found that 65% of Americans believe President Obama could better handle an alien invasion of Earth than Mitt Romney. But Romney will likely tout his credentials in saving Earth from an alien invasion by assuring the American people that he knows some alien spaceship owners.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, June 28, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.