In today's On the News segment: Federal Judge Katherine Forrest struck down the controversial indefinite detention provision passed and signed by President Obama on New Year's Eve last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act; today, the Pennsylvania high court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the state's controversial Voter Suppression ID law; new census data reveals that the number of uninsured Americans declined for the first time since 2007; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Unrest spread to Yemen today – as an angry mob stormed the U.S. embassy in Sana'a – tearing down the American flag, burning it, pelting the building with rocks, and smashing windows. So far reports indicate that no one inside the embassy was injured. Just like the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Egypt and U.S. consulate in Libya on Tuesday, officials believe this attack in Yemen was prompted by the anti-Muslim film made here in the United States insulting the prophet Muhammad. However, new reports are suggesting that the attack in Libya that claimed the life of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other diplomats may have been pre-planned for 9/11 by a terrorist organization. These recent attacks against American diplomatic interests are straining ties between the United States and foreign leaders. In an interview with Telemundo on Wednesday, President Obama said that he doesn't consider the current government in Egypt an "ally." And the U.S. military is deploying two warships, marines, and drones to Libya in response to the attack on the consulate. Egypt, Libya, and Yemen are all nations that got swept up in the Arab Spring and today are in the midst of revolution, which is never easy. And decades of U.S. meddling in those nations – propping up kleptocrats, conducting military operations, and syphoning off resources – leaves our interests in the area vulnerable to these sorts of attacks. Let's hope we as a nation don't fall into the same trap of overreaction and military misadventure that characterized the Bush administration, and which Mitt Romney and his Neo-Con advisers are calling for today.
In screwed news ... all eyes in Pennsylvania are on the state Supreme Court. Today – the Pennsylvania high court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to the state's controversial Voter Suppression ID law. This is the last stop for those opposed to a law that could kick more than a million Democratic voters in the state off the rolls ahead of November. A lower court upheld the law in August. In the city of Philadelphia alone, nearly half the entire city could be blocked from voting for not having the proper ID under this law. And those most affected are minority voters who tend to vote for Democrats. Meanwhile in Florida, Governor Rick Scott announced his state will restart its voter purge effort, which so far has been rife with errors leading to eligible voters being notified they are being removed from voting rolls. This is nothing more than right-wing election-rigging and it's up to the courts now to put a stop to it. It's also up to "we the people" to get active and start fighting for a federal right to vote.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Civil liberties advocates led by journalists and writers Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, and Noam Chomsky secured a big victory yesterday. Federal Judge Katherine Forrest struck down the controversial indefinite detention provision passed and signed by President Obama on New Year's Eve last year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Judge Forrester agreed with the plaintiffs that the provision could chill the First Amendment and leave journalists vulnerable to indefinite detention if they associate with terrorist organizations while trying to cover stories. The Obama Administration is appealing the ruling, but as Chris Hedges said in a recent interview with the Village Voice, "IF they appeal, we'll fight them, and we'll keep fighting them, and we'll fight them until we win."
Republicans want us to rely on the rich to get us out of this bad economy – that's why they're pushing for more and more tax cuts for people like Mitt Romney. But a new study by economist Owen Zidar reveals that tax cuts for the rich really don't stimulate economies. Zidar examined states with a lot of rich people that had just recently passed a tax cut for those very same rich people, expecting to find significant economic growth as Republicans argue would happen. But that didn't happen. What Zidar found was that a tax cut for the top 10% highest income earners only yielded a .13% increase in GDP over two years. That's basically no growth at all. On the flip side, a tax cut for the bottom 90% led to a nearly 3% increase in GDP over two years. This study confirms what's become obvious to more and more Americans over the last three decades – which is that Reaganomics doesn't work. Demand drives economies. Working people with money in their pocket to spend creates economic growth – not rich people who stash their extra cash in the Cayman Islands. All trickle-down economics does is create a nation of peons.
A shocking new poll reveals just how effective anti-Hispanic messaging on the Right has been. The poll – conducted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition finds that 30% of non-Hispanics believe that more than half of all Latinos in America are undocumented immigrants. In reality – only about 18% of the Latino population in America is undocumented – not anywhere near a majority. But with constant demonization of immigrants coming from the Right – it's no wonder that Americans believe that illegal immigration is a bigger problem than it really is. We do need comprehensive immigration reform in America, but pinning our nation's problems on hard-working Latino citizens won't get us there. And considering that non-whites will soon have a majority in this nation – much to the dismay of people like Pat Buchanan –Republicans are vilifying Latinos at their own political peril.
And finally ... Obamacare is working! New census data reveals that the number of uninsured Americans declined for the first time since 2007. Between 2010 and 2011 – after Obamacare was passed – the number of uninsured Americans dropped by 1.3 million. Not only that – Americans have saved $2.1 billion in health insurance premiums, thanks to reforms under Obamacare. Yet, Mitt Romney today is running on a campaign to repeal Obamacare...at least until he flip flops again.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, September 13, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.