In today's On the News segment: Yesterday, the city of Moore, Oklahoma was devestated by a monster tornado; Apple may also be the biggest tax-dodger in history; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Yesterday, the city of Moore, Oklahoma was devestated by a monster tornado. The two-mile wide twister claimed the lives of dozens of people, and injured hundreds. And, the number of fatalities will likely rise as search and rescue operations continue. Oklahoma's Lt. Governor, Todd Lamb, said that Monday's tornado was like "a two-mile wide lawnmower blade" that shredded everything in its path, and it hit one of the most populated areas in that state. This is another unfortunate example of the "new normal" - the devastation left in the wake of mega-storms, that are fueled by hotter temperatures, and increased moisture in the atmosphere. This is what life is like in the never-before-experienced world with over 400 parts per million of carbon in our atmosphere. We can expect more extreme hurricanes, wildfires, droughts, floods, and even massive tornadoes. We're living in an atmosphere that no human, in the history of our species, has ever existed in. What will it take to make us wake up to the damage we're inflicting on our world, and the dangerous conditions we've fostered by pumping endless amounts of carbon into our atmosphere? How many lives need to be lost before we try to prevent these extreme weather events from getting even worse? We can't quickly reverse the damage that's been done, but, we can work to prevent these super storms from becoming even more deadly. We have to stop pumping carbon into our atmosphere before we reach an even more dangerous parts-per-million threshold. For the safety of our country, and our world, we must make the switch to green energy.
In screwed news... In addition to being the third most profitable company in the world, Apple may also be the biggest tax-dodger in history. Today, Apple's chief executive will face Congress, in a hearing about his company's tax-avoidance scheme. According to the New York Times, Apple got out of paying billions in taxes throughout the world by using "a web of subsidiaries so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen." Apple's corporate headquarters are located in Cupertino, California, yet, when it comes to tax liability, they're essentially stateless. Congressional investigators found that Apple's various subsidiaries have allowed them to get out of record keeping, paying taxes, or even submitting a tax return anywhere in the world. Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the committee holding today's hearing, said, "Apple successfully sought the holy grail of tax avoidance. It has created offshore entities holding tens of billions of dollars, while claiming to be tax resident nowhere." Thankfully, Apple is finally going to have to answer for their tax-dodging, but we need to fix the system that allowed this to happen in the first place. If companies want to do business in our nation, utilize the American commons, and profit off of hard-working Americans, then they need to pay for the right to be here. It's time to close the loopholes, and make every company pay their fair share.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Last week, the Senate Agriculture Committee approved the FARRM Act of 2013, which includes a four billion dollar cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly referred to as "food stamps." Yesterday, that bill was introduced in the full Senate, and one lawmaker is going to great lengths to convince his colleagues to reject all of the proposed cuts. Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut will attempt to eat for one week, using only $3 dollars a day, which is about the same amount that SNAP recipients have to survive on. In addition to the four billion in cuts proposed by the Senate Agriculture Committee, the Republican-led House Agriculture Committee wants to see another $20 billion cut from the program. Senator Murphy won't have to deal with other difficulties experienced by those who rely on SNAP benefits, like social stigma, but his effort will demonstrate how hard it will be for the vital program to absorb these draconian cuts proposed by Congress. It's shameful that Congress is even considering cuts to SNAP, which exists solely to ensure people aren't starving in the streets, all so they don't have to ask the wealthy to pay a little bit more in taxes. Hopefully, lawmakers will learn something from Senator Chris Murphy's experience, and reject all cuts to this important program.
The AFL-CIO doesn't like Facebook. At least, that's the gist of an email alert the labor federation sent out yesterday to union members and immigration activists. According to the AFL-CIO, a series of amendments offered to the immigration bill "undercut protections for both aspiring citizens and U.S. Workers." The amendments were submitted by Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, and the AFL-CIO says they would allow tech companies to "fire American workers and bring in new immigrant workers at lower wages." In the email, AFL-CIO's Ana Avendano wrote "Everbody loses here – American workers aren't offered jobs they are qualified for and immigrant workers are hired at the lowest wage possible." They are urging activists to contact Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy – call him and tell him you stand with the AFL-CIO.
And finally... Many of us have experienced the embarrassment of a butt dial, however, two California men found themselves in jail after their cellphone mishap. One of their phones accidentally dialed 911 from a pocket, right at the exact moment the pair was breaking into a car. The 911 operator who took the call heard one of the men say, "get the bolt and give me the hammer just in case," and then heard a window shatter. Little did the men know that as they drove away, police were already in the area searching for them based on the clues the dispatcher was providing. The pair was arrested, and charged with burglary. Perhaps they'll think twice before breaking into a car again, or at least consider that somebody may be listening.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, May 21, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.