In today's On the News segment: President Obama's lead over Mitt Romney is growing significantly in key battleground states; all hell is breaking loose in Europe, where Spanish and Greek protesters are demonstrating against austerity; our nation's prison industrial complex is sucking our economy dry; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. All hell is breaking loose in Europe. The streets of Madrid resembled a war zone on Tuesday, as thousands of demonstrators surrounded the Spanish Parliament demanding the government resign. There were several arrests and injuries as riot police clashed with the demonstrators. Spain is under immense pressure from billionaires and banksters to slash government spending and pay down its deficit, but those most affected by this sort of Republican-like austerity - like public sector workers and the unemployed - aren't having it. Already, Spain has the highest unemployment rate in the Eurozone, which will only get worse with more Republican-like austerity. Demonstrators called for a national referendum to let the Spanish people – and not banksters – decide their own fate when it comes to paying the nation's debts. To make matters worse, the Catalonia region of Spain called for an early election at the end of November – which could be a vote for independence from Spain altogether, as the region runs into its own financial problems. Meanwhile, on the other side of Europe, workers in Greece are on strike today to protest another round of spending cuts under consideration by the Greek government. Public employees, teachers, medics, lawyers, and even banksters walked off their jobs and took to the streets to protest salary and pension cuts. It's the first such strike since the new Conservative government took power in June. Organizers of the strike were expecting upwards of a million people in the streets of Athens. Government-shrinking, tax-cutting austerity like that preached by Republicans in the United States is literally ripping nations apart in Europe – and it'll do the same thing here in the United States if Republicans win big in November.
In screwed news ... our nation's prison industrial complex is sucking our economy dry. According to Mother Jones magazine, by the year 2030 more than one-third of the prison population in American will be over the age of 50. That's roughly 400,000 inmates. That means a lot more money being sucked into our prison system – as it costs nearly twice as much to care for a prisoner over the age of fifty than one under fifty. With the rise of the prison industrial complex – and it's lobbying firms – tough new laws have been lobbied into existence that stretch out prison sentences to make more money for the private prisons. That makes huge profits for private prison corporations like the Corrections Corporation of America – but it's also ruining the lives of countless Americans and bankrupting state economies. It's hard to be the land of the free – when we have more people in prison that any other nation in the world.
In the best of the rest of the news...
President Obama's lead over Mitt Romney is growing significantly in key battleground states. With less than six weeks to go until the election, New York Times, CBS News, and Quinnipiac polls all have the President leading Romney 53% to 44% in Florida – 53% to 43% in Ohio – and 54% to 42% in Pennsylvania. If Romney loses these states – there's virtually no way he can win the White House. Meanwhile, Conservative media like Drudge and Fox so-called News keep saying the race is a dead-heat, which could suggest the right-wing media machine is already planning its post-election narrative that President Obama stole the election. Given how Fox and Drudge are setting expectations for a Romney win, get ready for some seriously angry white racist voters if Obama wins.
A new report says that global climate change will ruin the world's economy. The report – commissioned by 20 different governments – warns that runaway climate change will lower global economic output by 1.6% a year – which is an annual loss of $1.2 trillion. And by 2030, that number will double – with global economic output dropping by 3.2% every single year. Nations most affected by this are those that rely on fossil-fuels the most like the United States, China, and India. The report also says that economies heavily dependent on carbon-based fossil fuels are responsible for the deaths of five million people a year due to air pollution. This report comes on the heels of a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists that exposed rampant lies about climate changing coming from right-wing media outlets. According to scientists, 93% of Fox so-called News broadcasts on climate change are filled with "misleading statements." And 81% of climate change coverage on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page is also "misleading." As climate change intensifies – the fossil fuel industry is stepping up their disinformation campaign. It's simple – they don't care about future generations – they just care about short-term profits - no matter the damage they're causing the planet in the long-term.
Could Fukushima happen again? A new report by scientists in Spain and Belgium have located 23 nuclear power plants operating 74 reactors in high-risk areas of large tsunamis. The Fukushima nuclear crisis last year was triggered by an earthquake and tsunami. There are still seven plants in tsunami danger zones in Japan. There are 19 plants in China in high risk zones. South Korea, India, and Pakistan also have nuclear reactors in danger zones. The study warns that the Fukushima crisis happened in an advanced nation with a lot of scientific knowledge and technological infrastructure, but the next crisis may not be in such an advanced nation. As the authors of the report write, "If it had occurred in a country less equipped for dealing with the consequences of catastrophe, the impact would have been a lot more serious for the world at large." It's time to stop playing with the loaded gun of nuclear power – especially after seeing what happens when that gun goes off as it did in Japan. We need to build a nuclear-free world. No nukes!
And finally ... if Republicans are serious about paying down the deficit – they should support a carbon tax. A new report by the Congressional Research service shows that a modest carbon tax of just $20 per pound of pollution would cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion over ten years. This is one of the best ways to lower our deficit and curb global climate change. Unfortunately, it'll ruffle the feathers of oil barons. Tragically, if there's one thing we know Republicans care about more than the deficit, it's their investors in the oil industry.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, September 26, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.