In today's On the News segment: The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has been quietly settling charges out of court; Schools around our nation are crumbling; Residents of Byron, Maine unanimously voted against mandatory gun ownership; New York state judge has struck down Mayor Bloomberg's supersize soda ban; and More.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The LA Times reports that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which is responsible for investigating and prosecuting bank procedures has been quietly settling charges out of court – and out of the view of the American public. The purpose of the FDIC is to insure deposits and regulate banks, but instead the agency has helped the banksters avoid trial for their crimes since the 2008 financial meltdown. Since 2007, the FDIC has settled numerous charges of bankster wrongdoing, but has agreed to a "no press release" clause in settlement agreements, so the big banks have avoided public scrutiny. A spokesman for the FDIC said they only announce the settlements "when damage payments are large and media interest [is] intense." However, the FDIC didn't announce a $54 million settlement with Deutsche Bank for causing the collapse of The Independent National Mortgage Corporation, known as IndyMac. And that settlement is just part of the $787 million the FDIC has recovered since 2008. The "no press release" clause may have allowed the FDIC to avoid the expense of taking on the big banks in court, but the practice also allowed banksters to get away with alleged crimes, like money laundering, foreclosure fraud, and mortgage fraud. The settlements simply become a cost of doing business for the banks. It's time to hold the banksters accountable. If too-big-to-fail means too-big-to-jail, then break up the banks and charge the banksters for their crimes.
In screwed news... Schools around our nation are crumbling. According to a new Government Accountability Office assessment, it would cost over $270 billion to get our nation's school buildings back to their original condition. And the cost jumps to $542 billion to modernize and update the buildings. Rachel Gutter, director of the U.S. Green Building Council, said, "when we talk about a quality education, we talk about the 'who' and the 'what' – teachers and curriculum – but we don't talk about the 'where.' That needs to change." We can't provide students a quality education when their classroom is crumbling around them. Students are our future, and investing in their education should be a national priority. That investment needs to include our nation's school buildings.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Residents of Byron, Maine unanimously voted against mandatory gun ownership. Even the man who proposed the measure, Bruce Simmons, voted against requiring every household in the town to own a firearm and ammunition. Despite the failed proposal, Simmons and backers of the measure said they accomplished what they had set out to do, which was to issue a "statement to the federal government that they can't take our guns away." But Byron isn't the only town that's considered such a law. Sabbatus, Maine also voted down a similar proposal, and a city leader in Nelson, Georgia has put forward a mandatory-gun-ownership proposal as well. While the rest of the nation is fighting for commonsense gun regulations, gun-nuts in cities like these are trying to mandate gun ownership. Thankfully, the residents of Byron and Sabbatus said "no way" to the nonsense proposal, let's hope Nelson, Georgia does the same.
A New York state judge has struck down Mayor Bloomberg's supersize soda ban. According to the Think Progress Blog, the judge overturned the law because of "uneven enforcement" throughout the city, which he believed rendered the regulation ineffective. Although New Yorkers would have been banned from purchasing more than 16 ounces of sugary drinks at restauraunts, they still had the option of going to convenience stores, which were exempt from the ban, or purchasing several drinks at a time to get their sugary fix. Bloomberg's supersize soft drink ban may not have been perfect, but it was a great start in getting New Yorkers to be more aware of one of the leading causes of obesity – sugary soft drinks. Even though the measure is on hold for now - pending a possible appeal, it prompted a national discussion about portion control and the dangers of supersize sodas. Don't think this small set back will stop Mayor Bloomberg in his fight for a healthier New York.
Despite an austerity-induced unemployment rate of over 26%, Greece must cut another 150,000 public sector jobs in order to receive additional financial assistance. That nation must cut 25,000 of those jobs by the end of the year, and has until 2015 to implement the additional workforce reduction. These layoffs are mandated even after Greece has cut public sector wages by as much as 20%, and the job cuts won't prevent that nation from having to implement more austerity in the future. This is exactly the opposite of what Greece should be doing to fix their economy. No nation, in the history of the world, has ever cut it's way to prosperity – and Greece won't be the first to do so. The high unemployment rates, social service cuts, and shrinking GDP we see in Greece are exactly what we can expect here if we don't put a stop to austerity. Hopefully the Greek people will continue to fight against these measure, and hopefully we can stop them here before it's too late.
And finally... An Indiana woman is suing her church for banning the NASCAR-themed headstone, which she had built for her late husband. Sharon Carr spent $9,600 on the monument, which is a granite couch-shaped headstone, decorated with images of a dog, a deer, and logos from NASCAR and the Indianapolis Colts. St. Joseph Catholic Church has refused to allow the headstone, saying it is not "an appropriate monument in our historic cemetery." So, Mrs. Carr is suing the church, saying they never produced any guidelines before she had the unique headstone created. No word yet on whether Justice Scalia will deem the headstone a perpetuation of redneck entitlements.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, March 12, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.