In today's On the News segment: The Obama administration is on track to deport more than 2 million undocumented immigrants by 2014; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie continues to screw over working people in his state; 234 college campuses around the US have taken up the fossil fuel divestment campaign; and more.
Jim Javinsky here - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. New jobs numbers show the economy added 157,000 jobs in January, but the unemployment rate still ticked up to 7.9% as more people entered the workforce. Today's jobs report came in slightly below expectations – and follows a GDP report this week showing that our economy contracted .1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, thanks in large part to government austerity. However, revised jobs numbers from last year show the economy did better than previously thought, with an average of 181,000 jobs created each month. But, with trillions of dollars in spending cuts looming, and the same sort of austerity that's plaguing Europe set to soon take hold here in the United States, 2013 may not be nearly as rosy of a year for jobs. Buckle up for a bumpy ride.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to screw over working people in his state. Earlier this week – he vetoed legislation to increase the minimum wage to $8.50 an hour. But, that's not the only way Christie has denied help to the middle class. He also vetoed two key housing assistance bills, which would have brought much needed relief to struggling homeowners. One bill would give the state authority to purchase foreclosed homes, and transform them into affordable housing for people who lost their homes in the Bush Great Recession. The other bill would have provided assistance to unemployed, and underemployed, homeowners to make mortgage payments. In 2012, New Jersey outpaced every other state in the nation, when it came to homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments – meaning while the housing situation may be slowly improving around the nation – it's getting worse in New Jersey. And in just one week, Governor Christie has slammed the door on millions of residents in his state, who could have used higher wages, and a little help staying in their homes.
In the best of the rest of the news...
One way to stop Big Oil from running roughshod over our economy, is to just stop investing in them. That's the goal of a national divestment campaign, launched by organizations like 350.org, that is trying to fight off global warming by encouraging schools and cities to shift their investments away from fossil fuels. Already, over 234 college campuses around the nation have taken up this divestment campaign – and the city of Seattle is poised to become the first city in the nation to divest of fossil fuels, too. Right now, the city's public worker retirement system holds huge investments in oil giants, like ExxonMobil and Chevron, but the city's mayor, Mike McGinn, wants to change that. In a letter, McGinn wrote, "Climate change is one of the most important challenges we currently face, as a city and as a society...I believe that Seattle ought to discourage these companies from extracting that fossil fuel, and divesting the pension funds from these companies is one way we can do that."
Congress kicked the can down the road again on Thursday – passing a three-month extension to the debt ceiling. That means this fight will resume again in the three months. Meanwhile, Congress now turns its attention to another can that was kicked down the road last month – the "sequester" of $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, that Congress pushed backward a few months at the beginning of the year. It's difficult to run a government effectively when you're constantly up against 3-month deadlines – and it might be one reason why Congress has seen its lowest approval rating ever, since Republicans took control of the House in 2010.
Congress will soon take up immigration reform – but President Obama is on track to hit an ominous milestone when it comes to deportations. A new report out of the University of California-Merced, shows that the Obama administration is on track to deport more than 2 million undocumented immigrants by 2014. That would be more deportations under President Obama than occurred under all the Presidents, from 1892 to 1997 combined! This strict deportation policy is breaking up families, and condemning thousands of American children to life in foster care. This is why comprehensive immigration reform is desperately needed.
And finally...today is the 10th anniversary of the break-up of the space shuttle Columbia, as it re-entered the atmosphere. And a former NASA flight director has come forward, stating that personnel on the ground knew the shuttle, and crew, would not survive re-entry, yet decided to not inform them. According to Wayne Hale, personnel knew the shuttles heat shield sustained significant damage on takeoff, that would likely lead to a disaster upon re-entry. But rather than informing the crew, Hale claims NASA personnel made the decision to allow the shuttle to come back to Earth, instead of orbiting in space indefinitely until the crew ran out of oxygen. Hale's revelations were published in his blog on Thursday. Children of the deceased astronauts will be commemorated in a ceremony today, to recognize the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, February 1st, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.