In today's On the News segment: France will continue its ban of genetically modified food and natural gas hydrofracturing, Colorado looks poised to become the first state to decriminalize marijuana, two new polls show Elizabeth Warren edging out a lead on Republican challenger Scott Brown, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Happy Birthday, Occupy Wall Street. Today marks the one-year anniversary since Americans began highlighting Wall Street's crimes by occupying Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan and eventually hundreds of other cities across the nation. Events and rallies are underway in New York City and elsewhere around the nation to commemorate the occasion, and already there are several reports of more than 70 demonstrators arrested in lower Manhattan. One year ago, Occupy changed the game by changing the national conversation away from deficit-reduction and austerity and toward wealth inequality and job creation. After brutal police oppression, the encampments disappeared from the public eye. But Occupy didn't go anywhere, it's been working under the radar saving Americans from foreclosure, helping students with debt, and helping workers organize. The nation is in a crisis, and, in response, the American people are pregnant with revolution. Occupy was simply the first tactic in the burgeoning, grassroots revolution. What comes next we don't know for sure, but it's absolutely essential to pick up on what Occupy started a year ago, get organized and get active to take on the corporate 1% that have taken over our government and economy and is destroying the American middle class.
In screwed news...a new report reveals exactly why the Occupy Movement is still desperately needed in America. The report, written by an international commission chaired by Kofi Annan, sends a warning to the world's democracies, specifically the United States, about the corrupting influence of corporations and money in the democratic process. As the reports states, "The rise of uncontrolled political finance threatens to hollow out democracy everywhere and rob democracy of its unique strengths." The report directly calls out our Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which has, "shaken citizen confidence in America's political institutions and elections." As our nation attempts to bring American democracy to the Middle East with mixed results, this new report suggests we should be focusing on restoring our own democracy first, which has undergone a corporate coup de etat.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Chicago Teachers Strike is now entering its second week – and will likely continue until at least Tuesday. The teachers have asked for more time for their members to review a new tentative agreement with the city. Meanwhile, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is threatening legal action to forcing striking teachers back into the classrooms – classrooms that are lacking air conditioning, school supplies, counselors, and nurses. But while the labor struggle in Chicago continues, workers secured a big victory in Wisconsin at the end of last week. A Wisconsin county judge on Friday struck down Governor Scott Walker's controversial anti-collective bargaining law – ruling that it violates both the state and federal constitutions. As Judge Juan Colas wrote in his ruling regarding the anti-collective bargaining provision, it will "single out and encumber the rights of those employees who choose union membership and representation solely because of that association, and therefore infringe upon the rights of free speech and association guaranteed by both the Wisconsin and United States Constitutions." This ruling highlights how not only is the war on workers a ploy by Republicans to redistribute wealth to the very top, but it's also completely unconstitutional.
Colorado looks poised to become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana. A new poll by the Denver Post shows a majority of Colorado voters – 51% - supporting Amendment 64, which is on the ballot this November and which will legalize and regulate marijuana like alcohol and tobacco. Support for the amendment is found across every income bracket and age group – except for voters over the age of 65. This is the first independent poll that shows a majority of support for the measure. But people who want to end the drug war shouldn't celebrate just yet. Back in 2010, polls in California showed a majority of support for marijuana legalization, but the measure ultimately failed on election day. Big industries that profit immensely from the drug war, like private prison corporations and the drug, alcohol, and tobacco lobbies are going to spend big bucks in the coming weeks to defeat this measure. Let's hope organized people beat organized money to deal a serious blow to Richard Nixon's failed drug war.
So what does France know that we don't know? During an environmental conference over the weekend, France's political leaders, including President Francois Hollande, announced that their country will continue its ban on genetically modified food as well as natural gas fracking. Europe, as a whole, currently has a ban on most GMO's aside from a single version of Monsanto's franken-corn. But, France is taking the ban a step further – outlawing ALL GMOs. And in regard to fracking, President Hollande said it poses "serious risked to health and the environment" and all permit requests to begin fracking in France have been rejected. Here in America, our grocery shelves are filled with GMOs and fracking is rampant, causing entire cities to be poisoned and even provoking damaging earthquakes. When a government hasn't been completely taken over by corporations like ours, then it still has the power to protect its people from corporate predators. Go to MoveToAmend.org – to reclaim our commons like France has done.
And finally...things are looking up for progressive icon Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. Two new polls released over the weekend show Warren receiving a post-DNC speech bump in her bid to unseat Republican Senator Scott Brown. One poll shows Warren up by 2-points – while another gives her a larger 6-point lead. With other polls taken into consideration, this Senate race in Massachusetts is a dead-heat – and one of the closest in the nation. But Warren being able to stay neck and neck with a guy who's solely doing the bidding of Wall Street proves that her message against corporate personhood and in defense of the middle class is being heard. So let's keep talking about it!
And that's the way it is today – Monday, September 17, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.