In today's On the News segment: Shell Oil has been drilling in the Arctic since Sunday despite documents revealing problems with its blowout response systems, casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson stands to save $2 billion under Romney's tax plan, authorities in Florida are looking for a Republican strategist believed to have been involved in running a fake Democrat in a Congressional primary, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The nation remembers 9/11 today, and is reminded about the utter failures of the Bush administration leading up to the attacks. As a new op-ed published last night in the New York Times uncovers, the Bush administration was repeatedly warned in the months leading up to the attack that terrorists were operating in America and determined to carry out an attack. But rather than doing anything about it – the Bush Administration dismissed the warnings as mere distractions pushed by Saddam Hussein, even though there was absolutely no proof of any coordination between Bin Laden and Hussein. The incompetence – and downright negligence – of the Bush administration is staggering – and Americans paid dearly for it. It's now been 11 years since the attacks – and since then we've seen 11 years of continuing war, 11 years of continuing surveillance, and 11 years of continuing disintegration of our civil liberties. Today we honor the victims who lost their lives on that day, but as a nation we must also recognize the profound impact the decisions our leaders made in the months and years after 9/11 that have made our country less safe, destabilized the planet, and shredded our constitution. Let's hope that future memorials to this day aren't clouded by war, anger, and xenophobia.
In screwed news...the Chicago Teachers Union strike entered day two today. And while Conservatives – and some Democrats – are criticizing the teachers for going on strike instead of looking out for students – the facts about Chicago's school system reveal why such a strike is absolutely necessary. You would think there would be one school nurse per school, but not in Chicago – where the public school system only has 202 nurses to serving 684 schools. There are currently only 370 social workers employed at Chicago public schools – despite over 15,580 homeless students attending public schools in the district. There's a shortage of school counselors as well – with only 731 counselors employed. That's well short of the 1,600 counselors as recommended by the American School Counselors Association. On top of all of that, only 25% of Chicago elementary schools have full-time art and music instructors. And a third of all schools don't have libraries. The Chicago Teachers Union is on strike to highlight the dire situation public education is in in Chicago, as funding is slashed to pay for more for-profit private schools. Of all the players in this dispute, the teachers are the only ones actually looking out for the best interests of the students.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Another story of Republican election-rigging. Authorities in Florida are looking for a Republican strategist who is believed to have been involved in a campaign to run a fake Democrat in a Congressional primary in order to help the Republican incumbent win. Last week, Republican operative Ana Alliegro's apartment was raided by police and she was scheduled to speak with prosecutors – but she never showed up and her attorneys have no idea where she is. She's alleged to have worked with Justin Lamar Sternad – a congressional candidate in the 26th district in Florida – who was running as a Democrat. However, financial records indicate that Sternad may have received as much as $46,000 in cash from the Republican incumbent in the district, Congressman David Rivera – indicating he was a dummy candidate used just to weaken the actual Democrat in the race, Joe Garcia. With Republicans focused on voter fraud, which virtually never happens, they are simultaneously working hard to commit election fraud – which does happen quite often.
A new report by the Center for American Progress reveals exactly why a billionaire like Macau casino-tycoon Sheldon Adelson is willing to spend huge amounts of money to get Mitt Romney elected. Adelson has promised to spend at least $100 million helping Romney win this election. That sounds like a lot of money – but considering the tax breaks he'll get during a Romney presidency – it's nothing. According to the CAP report – Adelson stands to save more than $2 billion in taxes under Romney's plan. Thanks to Romney's cuts in the top income tax rate, dividends tax rate, and capital gains tax rate – Adelson stands to win big. Not only that – his heirs do too – as a repeal of the estate tax , which Romney is proposing, will give the Adelson heirs nearly $9 billion more in inheritance. So – as Adelson has said before, his $100 million contribution isn't a contribution at all – it's an investment. In fact, it's an investment with an 11,000% return. Now we can all see why the oligarchs are so happy with the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
Shell oil has begun drilling in the Arctic. On Sunday, the corporation's Noble Discoverer punched holes 1,400 feet deep off the coast of Alaska to prepare for oil extraction. Unfortunately, the company may not be prepared to handle a disaster like the BP Gulf oil spill in 2010. The watchdog group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, obtained documents through a FOIA request showing that tests on Shell's blowout response systems failed to prevent an environmental disaster. The group is calling on the U.S. Government to halt Shell's plans for continued drilling. Let's hope we don't get fooled again.
And finally...residents of Tampa, Florida have one more thing they can thank Republicans for, two weeks after the RNC came to town. And that's never-ending surveillance. In preparation for the RNC, a two million dollar surveillance system – complete with 60 cameras – was installed in the city to monitor crowds for suspicious activity and persons of interest. The RNC is now long gone – but the cameras are still in place. Although, they're turned off – they can be flicked back on at any moment, which is concerning members of the city council. As one councilwoman, Mary Mulhern, said, "This is a huge thing. We'll have many dozens of security cameras overhead. We don't want permanent surveillance." The city has called a council meeting for September 20th to address the Big Brother issue.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, September 11, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.