In today's On the News segment: North Carolina's House Majority Leader and ten of his Republican colleagues have sponsored legislation which would establish a state religion; sequester cuts are taking effect all throughout our nation; students at Wilcox County High School in Georgia are still subject to discriminatory separate-but-equal practices; and more.
Jim Javinsky here for Thom Hartmann – on the news…
You need to know this. Republicans in North Carolina say their state can ignore the U.S. Constitution. That state's House Majority Leader and ten of his Republican colleagues have sponsored legislation which would establish a state religion, and they say it's not up to the federal government or federal courts to determine whether or not it's constitutional. Section one of the so-called Defense of Religion Act reads, “the Constitution of the United States of America does not prohibit states or their subsidiaries from making laws respecting an establishment of religion.” According to The Think Progress Blog, the North Carolina Republicans are interpreting the Bill of Rights as only placing limits on the federal government. However, they fail to explain how their legislation does not violate the federal supremacy clause, or the Fourteenth Amendment. The supremacy clause states that the U.S. Constitution “shall be the supreme law of the land.” And the Fourteenth Amendment states “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.” So, in addition to being discriminatory to believers of different religions, North Carolina Republicans obviously don't understand the limits of state's rights. Our fore fathers believed the separation of church and state to be so important that it was addressed first in our Bill of Rights. No matter what Republicans and the Religious Right want to believe, we are not a theocracy.
In screwed news... The sequester cuts are taking effect all throughout our nation. Starting this month, the Environmental Protection Agency will implement its first phase of employee furloughs. The agency's 17,000 employees will start receiving notices of when they'll be required to take time off without pay. Each worker could be forced to take as many as 13 furlough days, as the EPA struggles to implement the across-the-board budget cuts. According to the president of the National Treasury Employee Union, which represents about 2,500 EPA workers, “these employees are middle-class workers who are in the third year of a pay freeze. These furloughs will hurt their ability to pay their bills and serve the public. This is incredibly unfair to them and to the public.” So, in addition to making it more difficult to safeguard our food, the Republican austerity will mean EPA workers have less money to spend, and thus have a negative impact on our economy. The GOP must be thrilled with their handy work.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Despite 50 years passing since the state of Georgia integrated public institutions, students at Wilcox County High School have still been subject to discriminatory separate-but-equal practices. And one group of students are fighting to change that. Although students of all races share classrooms and sports fields, they have different dances for white and black students. So four girls are organizing an inter-racial prom that everyone can attend. The current discriminatory dances are private events, and they are not sponsored by Wilcox High. The school has agreed to allow the integrated prom for all students, but will not help the senior class fund it. Many of us have believed that segregation was long gone in our nation, but it's alive and well in Southern Georgia. However, thanks to the hard work of these girls, the discriminatory practice may soon be over.
It's not like we needed another reason to stand against toxic tar sands oil, but we got one anyway. New research from University of Alberta ecologist Dr. David Schindler has uncovered major deformities in fish downriver from the oil sands development in Canada. He says the malformations bear a striking resemblance to ones found in fish after oil spills in U.S. waters. In an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Schindler said, “In both the Gulf of Mexico and the Athabasca River, the high incidence of malformations and the grotesque appearance of some of the fish make consumers reluctant to eat them.” That's because even the least informed of consumers recognizes that they would be absorbing the same toxins that led to the fish's deformity. We must stop the tar sands oil from destroying our environment, and possibly our entire food supply. We must stop Keystone XL. Join the fight atTarsandsBlockade.org.
And finally… Most people will go out of their way to follow the law, and avoid spending a night in jail. However, 200 law-abiding citizens of Lincoln, Nebraska have actually paid $30 for the opportunity to do so. Starting tonight at 6pm, residents from the community surrounding the new Lancaster County Adult Detention center will spend the night in jail to benefit charity. Each person who paid the fee will be fingerprinted and have their mugshot taken, in addition to sleeping in a locked jail cell overnight. The correction facility staff is using the event as a dry run to test out the new camera systems, plumbing, lighting, and locks throughout the facility. Once everything is tested, the 300,000-square-foot-facility will replace an overcrowded detention center in downtown Lincoln. The proceeds from the voluntary detention will benefit The Child Advocacy Center and Operation Santa Claus, and the participants will be released at 7am tomorrow morning. Over the years, there's been no shortage of the strange things people have done for charity, but spending time in jail for their good behavior may by far be the strangest.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, April 4, 2013. I’m Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.