In today's On the News segment: The technocrats are turning Greece into a feudal state – and people are dying, war may be around the corner between Israel and Sudan, Wikileaks began releasing more than 100 Department of Defense files exposing military detention policies in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay under the Bush Administration, and more.
You need to know this. Despite getting zero mentions in any of the presidential debates, the fight between Sensata workers and Bain Capital is heating up. Bain Capital is shutting down the Sensata factory in Freeport, Illinois on November 5th, just before the election, and sending 170 American jobs off to China. But the workers who will lose their jobs aren't going down without a fight. Workers have been holding rallies outside the factory for weeks, prompting Bain Capital on Tuesday to issue a threat that if protests continue then Bain would immediately shut down the plant. In response, on Wednesday, workers filed unfair labor practices charges against Sensata – and then attempted a march to the facility to demand a meeting with the plant manager. Reverend Jesse Jackson joined with the workers in the march, but he and thirteen others were arrested outside the plant. Workers have been pleading with Mitt Romney to use his influence to prevent the closing of the factory. But Romney hasn't said a word – and according to 2011 tax returns, he still owns stock in the company and stands to profit from the outsourcing of Sensata. Unfortunately, President Obama hasn't said a word about Sensata either. That's because both parties, by and large, have bought into these neoliberal free trade policies that are decimating American manufacturing. I've said it before, I'll say it again – the first political party to stand up and defend American workers and America's manufacturing base by cracking down on free trade and outsourcing policies will win big at the polls.
In screwed news...the technocrats are turning Greece into a feudal state – and people are dying. As reported in today's New York Times – under austerity, unemployed Greeks are losing their access to healthcare. Before the financial crisis, Greece had a universal healthcare system like the rest of Europe. But in 2011, in order to receive a bailout, Greece passed a law forcing all unemployed Greeks whose health benefits have expired to pay for all medical costs themselves out-of-pocket. Now, half of Greece's 1.2 million long-term unemployed workers have lost health insurance – and are missing out on life-saving medical care. Tragically, that's already the situation in the United States where 40,000 Americans die every due to lack of health insurance. It's time to reclaim healthcare around the world as part of the commons.
In the best of the rest of the news...
More banksters are going to court. This time it's Bank of America that's been hit with a lawsuit alleging blatant fraud during the housing crisis. The Department of Justice is suing the bank for one billion dollars over a program the bank ran appropriately known as "Hustle." Under that program, the Department of Justice alleges that Bank of America dispersed defective mortgage loans to potential homebuyers – and then knowing the mortgages would go bust, sold them off to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac so that taxpayers would take the hit. A Manhattan U.S. attorney handling the case described the suit saying, "The fraudulent conduct alleged in today's complaint was spectacularly brazen in scope...Countrywide and Bank of America made disastrously bad loans and stuck taxpayers with the bill." Suing the banksters for one billion for screwing taxpayers is a good start. But the best way to make sure this fraud won't happen again – is to throw some banksters in jail just like Ronald Reagan did during the Savings and Loan crisis.
Move over Iran, war may be around the corner between Israel and Sudan. On Wednesday, the Sudanese government accused Israel of bombing their military factory earlier in the day. Two people were killed in a massive explosion at the factory, and it's alleged that four Israeli planes launched the strike. Previously, Israel has accused Sudan of taking part in smuggling weapons to Gaza to be used by Hamas forces. But, Israel has yet to claim responsibility for Wednesday's strike. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Sudan's Information Minister had tough words for Israel and hinted at retaliation by saying, "We reserve the right to react at a place and time we choose." Keep an eye on this.
Wikileaks strikes again. Today, the journalistic website began releasing more than 100 Department of Defense files exposing military detention policies in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay under the Bush Administration. Wikileaks is hoping the document dump will help human rights activists build cases to bring accountability to government officials for human rights abuses against detainees. In a statement, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange described the documents saying, "The 'Detainee Policies' show the anatomy of the beast that is post-9/11 detention, the carving out of a dark space where law and rights do not apply, where persons can be detained without a trace at the convenience of the U.S. Department of Defense." It's been nearly four years since Bush and his team of war criminals left office, and the nation is no closer to healing the wounds created by that administrations torturous policies. And they won't heal into these men and women face the music for their crimes against humanity.
And finally...At the behest of civil rights groups that are worried about voter suppression efforts against minorities, the UN-affiliated Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe is dispatching a team of election observers to polling stations across the United States. And now, the Texas attorney general, Greg Abbot, is threatening an international incident by saying he will arrest any election monitors who are within 100 feet of polling states. As Abbot said, "The OSCE's representatives are not authorized by Texas law to enter a polling place...Failure to comply with these requirements could subject the OSCE's representatives to criminal prosecution for violating state law." The OSCE responded with a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calling Abbott's threat "unacceptable" and said that the OSCE has a longstanding agreement with the U.S. to permit election monitoring. Once again, Republicans will stop at nothing to make sure their vote rigging efforts are not stopped on Election Day.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, October 25, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.