In today's On the News segment: DOJ announced Friday it would not press charges against Goldman Sachs, the FBI is investigating another possible hate crime against Muslims in Chicago, a massive surveillance system known as "Trapwire" is up and running in major American cities, and more.
I'm Karl Frisch - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. The tickets are set – Mitt Romney will be running for president alongside Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Ryan is the powerful House Budget Committee Chairman who this year authored the most radical budget to ever pass the House of Representatives. Newt Gingrich referred to the Ryan Budget as "right-wing social engineering" – and it's an appropriate description, since it decimates the poor – with more than $3 trillion in cuts to programs for low-income Americans. It slashes the Medicaid program on which so many working families depend on – cutting it by one-third over the next ten years. It ends Medicare as we know it, raising the eligibility age and turning guaranteed health insurance for seniors into a voucher program that will result in seniors paying more than double what they currently pay in out-of-pocket costs. It screws college students with huge cuts to Pell Grants that will affect more than one million Americans. Yet despite all these cuts, Ryan's budget doesn't balance itself for several decades. That's because it also includes massive tax cuts for the rich – giving an average tax cut of a quarter-million dollars each year – while raising taxes on all Americans who make less than $30,000 a year. And it includes preserving billions in taxpayer subsidies to transnational oil corporations. According to the Economic Policy Institute – the Ryan Budget would kill more than 8 million jobs over the next several years – taking the unemployment rate to nearly 12% by 2014. Over the next few months, some political pundits will comment on how "bold" or "courageous" Paul Ryan is for taking on sacred cows like entitlement programs. But there's nothing "bold" or "courageous" about giving more tax cuts to the rich while crippling programs that help the poor. That's exactly what's been going on for thirty years in America, and Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney want to finish the job that Reagan started – the complete destruction of the middle class.
In screwed news, as Romney and Ryan try to drag America into feudalism, America's intelligence agencies have already dragged us into a surveillance state. According to emails belonging to the intelligence security firm, Stratfor, that were hacked by the group Anonymous – a massive surveillance system known as "Trapwire" is up and running in major cities across America. While the details are still scarce, Trapwire works by collecting data from thousands of security cameras in cities all across America – encrypting that data – and sending it to a central database where it's aggregated and sifted through to find potential threats – or whatever else law enforcement and intelligence agencies are looking for. Trapwire is up and running in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and right here in Washington, DC.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Goldman Sachs is gonna skate. The Department of Justice announced on Friday that it would not be pressing charges on the Wall Street giant after a more than a yearlong investigation into the banks' trading practices during the mortgage crisis. Despite Senate testimony back in April of last year proving that executives at Goldman preyed on customers and sold off investments that they knew were bogus, the Department of Justice concluded its investigation failing short of the "burden of proof" it needed to file charges against the banksters. So once again, high crimes in the financial sector go unpunished in America's two-tier Justice System.
The FBI is investigating a possible hate crime after a man fired two shots from a high-powered rifle at a Muslim Education Center near Chicago. Five hundred Muslims were inside the center at the time praying. The shooting comes just hours after Republican Congressman Joe Walsh – who represents the area – went unhinged and warned, "There is a radical strain of Islam in this country – it's not just over there – trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat, and it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11. It's here. It's in Elk Grove. It's in Addison. It's in Elgin. It's here." We can't know for sure if the shooting was prompted by Congressman Walsh's inflammatory words – just like we can't know for sure if the Sikh temple shooting last week was a result of Congresswoman Bachmann's warning about Muslims infiltrating the government. But we do know the constant hyping of Islamophobia on the airwaves by Members of Congress who should know better can potentially drive lone wolfs into violent action. In fact, there's a term for that – it's called Stochastic Terrorism.
Racial profiling could be rampant at airports across America. According to a new report by the New York Times, managers at Boston's Logan Airport instruct their TSA personnel to racially profile Middle Easterners, blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities. It's part of a behavior detection program created after 9/11 – meant to use trained behavioral experts to engage passengers in security lines and try to detect any unusual behavior. But this month, 32 officers filed written complaints alleging that the program is motivated strictly by racial profiling. Not only that – management required officers to meet a certain threshold of arrests and detentions. The TSA is responding with its own investigation into the issue, but the same program at Logan Airport is a model for more than 160 other airports across the nation.
And finally...one last bit of information regarding Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan – he's the most extreme veep nominee in a century. Based on an examination of Ryan's voting record in Congress, Ryan is more Conservative than any GOP Vice Presidential nominee in a century – and also farther from the political center than any Democratic VP nominee as well. He's even more Conservative than Dick Cheney. In other words, Paul Ryan may end up making Sarah Palin look like Ralph Nader. Stay tuned.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, August 13, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch - In for Thom Hartmann – on the news.