In today's On the News segment: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce new legislation to break up too-big-to-fail banks, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. People around the world are recognizing the danger of nuclear energy. Over the weekend, 500 protesters marched down Main Street in Brattleboro, Vermont to rally against the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The group gathered in opposition to what they claim is the illegal operation of the plant, which is owned by Entergy Nuclear. The plant has been opperating without the state's required certification of public good, and has been plagued with with technical problems. Protesters carried signs reading "No more leaks, lies and lawyers," and demanded that the plant be taken off line. Meanwhile, half a world away in Tokyo, Japanese researchers announced that a type of shellfish has disappeared in waters near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. And scientists say that the species that remain have high levels of radioactive material inside their bodies. Researchers state that the disappearance of the shellfish is linked to the nuclear disaster, and is not a result of the 2011 tsunami. These two events illustrate the dangers of nuclear energy, regardless of the location of the plant, or the regulations imposed on plant operators. One nuclear disaster can leave an area uninhabitable to people or animals, as we saw after Chernobyl, and as we're seeing at the Fukushima site. It shouldn't take a catastrophic event within our own borders to make lawmakers wake up to the danger of nuclear energy. Plants around our nation are outdated, under-regulated, and extremely dangerous. It's time to end the use of nuclear power. No one has ever reported a solar energy meltdown, or a toxic spill from a wind farm. For the sake of our planet, our nation, our economy, and our safety, let's make the switch to green energy. No nukes.
In screwed news... The revolving door that so often lands Wall Street executives in the Obama administration apparently goes in two directions... It turns out, that some high-level government officials are trading in their federal paychecks for huge salaries back in the banking industry. Former DOJ Criminal Division Chief Lanny Breuer recently exited the DOJ after failing to mount a single prosecution against any banksters on Wall Street. Such a dismal record would seem to warrant a career change but instead Breuer is being rewarded by the banksters he so ably protected. Breuer is now cashing in on his poor oversight performance, to the tune of $4 million bankster dollars. It appears that Mr. Breuer's refusal to prosecute companies that are "too big to fail", was nothing more than his ploy to secure a well-paid gig with those same firms after leaving the DOJ. According to Truthout, this move exemplifies more than just a revolving door, but rather a "dereliction of legal responsibility." In an interview with the Corporate Crime Reporter, the President of the public interest group, Better Markets, said, "nothing is more corrosive to the American people's trust in government than the revolving door where too many officials turn their so-called public service into multimillion dollar riches." This move, and all of Mr. Beuer's decisions at the Department of Justice, should be investigated. It's time to prosecute the banksters... and if Lanny Breuer turned a blind-eye to their illegal tactics, then it's time to hold him accountable too.
In the best of the rest of the news...
If only we had more Senators like Bernie Sanders. As news broke of a DOJ employee cashing in on his too-big-to-fail policy, Senator Sanders announced he will introduce legislation to break up the big banks. The legislation would instruct Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to compile a list of banks, hedge funds, and insurance companies that he deems too big to fail. Lew would have 90 days to put together a list financial institutions that could have a catastrophic effect on the stability of our economy. The proposal would then give the Treasury Department one year to break up the banks and financial institutions. According to Senator Sanders, "If an institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist. No single institution should be so large that its failure would cause catastrophic risk." It's no secret that Wall Street banksters have way too much power over our economy, and our government, but with Senators Bernie Sanders on the job, they may not have that power for long.
At the exact same time the Obama Administration is nearing its approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, two separate crude oil spills provided a bold reminder of why the President must reject the tar sands project. Last Wednesday, a train carrying toxic tar sands oil spilled nearly 15,000 gallons in Minnesota. Only two days later, the ExxonMobil "Pegasus" pipeline ruptured, leaking approximately 10,000 barrels of oil, and forcing the evacuation of 22 homes. Officials are now trying to clean up both sites, which were exposed to the world's dirtiest oil. Pegasus can carry more than 90,000 barrels of crude oil between Texas and Illinois, and it is dwarfed by the larger Keystone pipeline, which will carry nine times that amount. These two events, in less than one week, show that the oil industry is not equipped to deal with the dangers of Keystone XL. The President must prevent the toxic tar sands oil from being pumped over precious land, through our nation's communities. Call the White House today and tell President Obama to say NO to Keystone XL.
And finally... April Fool's Day pranks are a time-honored tradition, "shared" between many friends and co-workers. However, in today's technological age, major corporations are getting in on the game. This morning, Google punked internet users by announcing that it would be shutting down it's YouTube service, and introducing a new technology called Google Nose - "the new scent-sation in search." A Twitter blog also made a fake announcement, that said users who wanted vowels in their posts would have to purchase them. And Scope mouthwash released internet ads about a new bacon-flavor, with a tag-line reading, "For breath that sizzles." Apparently, some YouTube users were upset about the service going down, but the biggest outcry was that Scope's new bacon flavor wasn't a reality.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, April 1, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.