In today's On the News segment: The National Rifle Association's new president will lead the charge against new stricter gun laws in several states, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Unregulated capitalism is cancer on our nation. Like tumors, greed has metastasized, strangling once-healthy parts of our economy, and our social safety net. A new piece on Alternet lists several ways this cancer capitalism has taken hold. For starters, the hoarding of wealth by the banksters and the 1% has diverted resources away from nutritional aid programs. Twenty people in our country collected a whopping $73 billion in investment income – all taxed at a lower rate than working Americans. Compare that with the fact that President Obama couldn't even get $1 billion to improve childhood nutrition in our schools. And, while cancer capitalism has lead to higher-than-ever corporate profits, it hasn't translated into good jobs for college grads. Because of rising tuition costs, the average student graduates with $26,000 of student loan debt, and adding to that burden, high-unemployment allows the corporate elite to underpay workers, and hoard a larger share of profits. In addition, tax-dodging corporations have drained much-needed revenue out of our society like a tumor choking off the blood supply to our economy. According to Alternet, tax exemptions and corporate loopholes drain nearly a trillion dollars from "the body of our society" every year. And, the worst parasite of all is the unrestrained corporate purchase of our politicians. Cancer capitalism has left voters feeling weak and powerless, while Congress repeatedly represents only the will of the corporate elite. We must stop this cancer before it spreads into every last inch of our national body. Just like conquering any type of cancer, we must attack this problem from all sides, from getting money out of politics, to regulating Wall Street, to breaking up the monopolies that have too much power over our government. We can do all this, and we must.
In screwed news... Incoming NRA president, Jim Porter, will lead the legal fight to challenge recent gun laws in several states throughout our nation. The Alabama lawyer will replace current president David Keene. Keene told the Washington Times that Porter is a "perfect match" for the NRA, as it shifts its focus to court-room challenges. Keen said, "as we are likely to win most of the legislative battles in Congress, we will have to move to courts to undo the restrictions placed on gun owners' rights in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Colorado." Apparently, the NRA only respects state's rights in those states that refuse to place any limitations on gun sales and ownership. And, they don't respect the 90% of Americans that support background checks and many other modest reforms to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. This is just more evidence that the NRA doesn't work for its members, it only does the bidding of gun manufacturers.
In the best of the rest of the news...
In an attempt to score another landmark achievement for green energy, two pilots are hoping to make the first around-the-world trip in a solar-powered airplane. The pair started the project back in 2003, with a 10-year budget of over $100 million, and the help of Swiss engineers and Belgian researchers. The plane, dubbed the Solar Impulse, took off on the first-leg of the journey on Friday, leaving San Francisco Bay on a slow-speed flight to Phoenix. They expect to make several stops on their trip across country, as they wait for favorable weather, and they expect to make it to New York's J.F.K. International airport in about two months. Although the plane may not break any speed records, it represents a huge breakthrough in the use of green energy. The Solar Impulse is a test model for a more sophisticated plane that the pair hopes to build next, which will allow for higher speeds and longer flights. One of the pilots spoke to reporters before the first flight, and said, "If we don't try to fly today using renewable energy, we never will."
Over the weekend, there were several big developments in Syria. First, reports were released that Israel attacked Syrian missile sites, which may have been supplied by Iran. According to Israeli radio, the Netanyahu government aimed to avoid tension with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and "if there is activity, it is only against Hezbollah, not against the Syrian regime." At the same time, however, many here in the U.S. were calling for attacks against the Assad regime, as a response to the alleged use of chemical weapons. U.N. human rights investigators have since declared that it was rebel forces, and not the regime, that used the nerve agent Sarin. The conflicting reports and high-tensions are the exact reasons why President Obama must tread carefully in his decisions about Syria. We must not let the war-hawks push us into another unnecessary military action. We're still fighting in the Middle East a decade after George Bush lied us into war, and we must not repeat that mistake again.
And finally... Mr. Ed has nothing on this horse. Metro Meteor, a 10-year-old retired race horse, is now a best-selling painter in Pennsylvania. After retiring from the track because of bad knees, Metro was adopted by a local artist and his wife, who decided to teach the horse to paint. By holding a paintbrush in his teeth, Metro swings his head to create colorful abstract painting, which have sold for as much as $2,000 a piece. According to his owner, there are 120 people on a waiting list to purchase one of Metro's paintings. A portion of the proceeds go to help a local animal shelter, and the rest is used to cover the medical expenses for the arthritis in Metro's knees. According to the owner's website about Metro, "Art scholars are not going to have lengthy discussions trying to decipher the hidden meaning to Metro's paintings. He is a horse." It looks like George Bush isn't the only one to take up painting in his retirement.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, May 6, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.