In today's On the News segment: The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union during a ceremony in Oslo, Norway; 70 percent of all outside spending just since Labor Day has gone to Mitt Romney; a guaranteed retirement for Americans is rapidly disappearing; and more.
Shane Farnan in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. So much for keeping the momentum going. The Romney/Ryan ticket walked into a buzz saw Thursday night during the Vice Presidential debate. That buzz saw was named Joe Biden. In stark contrast from President Obama's debate performance last week – Joe Biden was the aggressor all night – not letting one convenient lie from Paul Ryan go unchallenged. Biden exposed Romney and Ryan's plans to voucherize Medicare. He exposed their plans to stick the middle class with a tax hike while giving the super rich a massive tax cut. He exposed the hypocrisy of Paul Ryan criticizing the stimulus act, while at the same time Ryan was writing letters to Biden asking for stimulus funding to create jobs in his Congressional district. He exposed Ryan's previous attempts to privatize Social Security. And he exposed Ryan as belonging to a Party that has been committed to obstruction over the last four years preventing a genuine economic recovery. If Vice President Joe Biden accomplished done thing Thursday night – it was to hype the Democratic base – and give his and the President's re-election campaign some much needed energy and focus with just a few weeks to go until the election.
In screwed news ... the billionaires are ramping up their election spending. Despite watching his running mate get beat up in the debate last night – Mitt Romney can take solace in a whole lot of outside spending that's being funneled into his campaign. According to a report by the Center for Public Integrity – 70% of all outside spending just since Labor Day has gone to Mitt Romney. And Romney has used more than $106 million on negative ads against the President. All of this outside spending is made possible thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. In total – more than $217 million have been thrown into the election just since September 3rd. And in total – outside spending this election has eclipsed all other election going back to 1990 COMBINED. This is a freak show election. Let's hope the American people wake up to the damage that all this money is doing to our democracy. Go to MoveToAmend.org.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the European Union during a ceremony in Oslo, Norway today. According to the Nobel Committee, the EU was receiving the prize for six decades of advancing, "peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." Currently though, the European Union is facing its biggest crisis since it was created. Despite receiving an award for peace – the EU is plagued by violence today – the violence of austerity. Suicide rates are skyrocketing – violent protests have erupted in the streets of Athens and Madrid. And democratic government have been toppled by technocrats who are trying to suck wealth out of working people to pay off banksters' debts. If the Nobel prize is truly about rewarding peace and democracy – then the European Union isn't the best model.
The for-profit motive is making foodborne illnesses even worse in America. Already – 128,000 Americans are hospitalizd – and another 3,000 die every year due to foodborne illnesses. One reason why is the federal government has handed much of its food inspecting duties to for-profit corporations in the private sector. In fact, in 2011 – the FDA only inspected 6% of the nations food producers. Companies hired by food producers inspect the rest. And as Bloomberg News reports – deadly contaminations are often overlooked. For example – for-profit food inspectors gave high marks to an egg producer, a cantaloupe farm, a ground turkey plant, and a peanut processor – certifying that their food was safe. Turns out though, those same growers and producers were actually supplying toxic food. Toxic food that ended up sickening nearly 3,000 Americans and killing another 43 in all 50 states. Our food should be our commons – left up to "we the people" to inspect – and not the so-called free market.
A guaranteed retirement for Americans is rapidly disappearing. Since 1985 – more than 84,000 pension retirement plans have been wiped away in favor of 401k plans that benefit employers rather than employees. 15 years ago – over half of all Americans over age 60 received pension payments. By 2010 – that number had dropped to just 43%. Instead – seniors are relying on 401ks, which are can be decimated during market downturns. The median value of 401k accounts in 2011 was $17,686 – meaning most working people would have to manage to live on just $80 a month for the rest of their life when they retire. We're the richest nation on the planet – it's time to give more attention to giving working Americans a decent retirement than billionaires another tax cut.
The backlash against our nations use of drones is beginning. The Lebanese group Hezbollah has claimed ownership over a drone that was shot down by the Israeli Air Force over the weekend. Hezbollah's leader claimed the drone flew for hundreds of kilometers above Israel gathering intelligence of a nuclear facility before it was shot down. Hezbollah is also promising to launch more drones, saying it is their "natural right" to do so. Drones are fairly easy to manufacture for developing nations. And given the precedent the United States have set with use of drones – launching strikes all around the world in sovereign nations – dangerous times may be on the horizon with a global drone war.
And finally ... Darrel Issa may have just jumped the shark. Speaking to Fox so-called News – Issa, the Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee announced that he will hold hearings into whether or not he Obama Administration cooked the books over last month's jobs numbers. This is a claim first made by former GE CEO Jack Welch who went on to admit he has absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Regardless, Issa now plans to spend taxpayer money to lend credence to the Job Truthers. Anything to distract the American people form the issues that really matter, right?
And that's the way it is today – Friday, October 12th, 2012. I'm Shane Farnan in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.