In today's On the News segment: The Paul Ryan pick has Republican operatives enraged and believing that Mitt Romney just cost conservatives the White House, the European economy did exactly what economists predicted last quarter ... it shrank, Japan is now home to mutant butterflies, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 19 trying to avoid extradition to Sweden and possibly even the United States, and more.
I'm Karl Frisch - In for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Another mass shooting is under investigation in America. This one happened on Monday in College Station, Texas – just blocks from Texas A&M University. The shooter – identified as 35-year-old Thomas Caffall opened fire after he was served an eviction notice by a county constable. That constable, Brian Bachmann was killed in the shootout, as was a bystander. A police officer and another civilian were also shot and injured and are in the hospital. The shooter, Caffall, was fatally wounded when police returned fire. According to the Caffall's mother, her son was dealing with mental difficulties. And Caffall's stepfather admitted that he believed Caffall was "crazy as hell" and a "ticking time bomb." Yet, despite clear indications of mental illness, Caffall had been legally stockpiling weapons – including high-powered assault rifles and bragging about it on Facebook. And on Monday he used those weapons - to no surprise of those who knew him - killing two people. Our nation is obsessed with the rights of gun owners, unfortunately, we're forgetting about the rights of non-gun owners – like the right to not live in a nation plagued by mass shootings where the mentally ill can get military-grade machine guns.
Paul Ryan was regarded as a bold pick to energize the Conservative base, but don't believe the hype. According to a report by Politico, the Paul Ryan pick has Republican operatives enraged and believing that Mitt Romney just cost Conservatives the White House. Not only that, by picking someone who's outspoken about ending Medicare as we know it, Republicans have put keeping and taking majorities in Congress in danger as well as Republican Members of Congress will be unable to run away from their Paul Ryan budget vote. As one unnamed Republican source was quoted as saying, "This is the day the music died." Then again, $3 billion in outside corporate cash funneled in this election to defeat President Obama can certainly keep the music playing for a few more tracks.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The European economy did exactly what economists predicted last quarter...it shrank. Between April and June – the euro zone shrank by .2%. That's yet more proof that austerity isn't working in Europe. Just look at Greece, which saw its GDP shrink by a whopping 6.2% in the second quarter this year – with the jobless rate creeping up to 23.1% and more than half of all 15-24 year-olds out of work. Italy is now pursuing austerity and suffering similar economic pain. At the end of June, Italy's public debt reached a record high, just as their economy shrank .7% in the second quarter. Italy is now headed down the same road as Greece – and the rest of Europe is following in suit thanks to its addiction to austerity. And if Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney win – and are able to bring their austerity agenda to the White House – then the United States won't be too far behind in economic collapse.
Japan is now home to mutant butterflies. Scientists have found three generations of mutated butterflies that were exposed to radiation near the melted down Fukushima nuclear plant. Last September, 240 butterflies were collected around Fukushima and studies show that 52% of their offspring now have genetic mutations like smaller wings and distorted eyes. More troubling, butterflies weren't the only species hanging around Fukushima when it went into crisis. Humans were too – and in the coming years and decades we could witness the human toll that this nuclear crisis has taken in the nation of Japan. We need to begin building a new world – free from nukes.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since June 19th trying to avoid extradition to Sweden and possibly even the United States. But this week, he may finally learn his fate. Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced Monday night that he hopes to have a decision this week on whether or not his nation will grant Assange political asylum. Meanwhile, Wikileaks is under assault after it revealed documents obtained by the Hacktivist group Anonymous detailing a massive surveillance system in America known as TrapWire. Make no mistake about it, speaking truth to power is still a dangerous game.
Last week – an explosion at a Chevron refinery in California forced hundreds of residents in the nearby city of Richmond to go to the hospital for treatment of toxic gas inhalation. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting now that the Chevron officials knew that the pipe failure, which caused the fire, could have been prevented. Last year, Chevron officials noticed unsafe levels of corrosion within the pipe and deemed it necessary for replacement. But, then a decision was made to forego the repairs, and instead deem the pipe safe for service for another five years. Last week, that pipe failed triggering yet another environmental disaster. More proof that we can't trust the oil industry to police itself.
And finally...Joe the Plumber – who is not really named Joe and not really a plumber – thinks he's an immigration expert too. Last week, while attending a fundraiser for an Arizona State Senate candidate, Joe revealed what he'd do about immigration –
Last week, while attending a fundraiser for an Arizona State Senate candidate, Joe revealed what he'd do about immigration – and that is...start shooting! He repeated the mantra the next day at a rally saying, "You heard it here first. Put troops on the border and start shooting, I bet that solves our immigration problem real quick." Yes, as though there isn't enough violence on the border already thanks to America's failed drug war. Maybe Joe should stick to his day job...plumbing.
And one more thing – a quick correction to yesterday's news, which cited numbers from the Economic Policy Institute that Paul Ryan's budget will kill more than 8 million jobs through 2014. That actual number is more than 4 million – with the unemployment rate expected to rise to 11.9 percent if the Ryan plan is enacted. Still! – bad news for our economy.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, August 14, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch - In for Thom Hartmann – on the news.