In today's On the News segments: Wisconsin Republicans want to peek into your bank account when you're out of work, and more.
Jim Javinsky here - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Eleven days after a deadly tornado hit the city of Moore, Oklahoma, five more tornadoes hit that state, killing at least 13 people, and injuring more than one hundred. Among the lives lost were three Discovery Channel storm chasers, Carl Young, and Tim and Paul Samaras. The storms hit just as roads and highways were jammed with rush hour traffic, leaving many people stuck in the path of approaching twisters. At least one of the tornadoes was classified an EF3, with winds up to 165 miles per hour. The storms also dumped softball-sized hail and over eight inches of rain on the Oklahoma City region, causing flash floods and stranding many residents in malls, businesses, and other areas throughout the city. The neighboring state of Missouri was also hit by the massive EF3 twister, which damaged at least 170 homes. For years now, scientists have been warning us to expect massive storms fueled by warmer weather and higher levels of moisture in the atmosphere. While environmental experts will not link any one storm directly to global warming, they agree that these super hurricanes, devastating floods, and monster tornadoes are the undeniable result of climate change. Scientists warn that if we continue to pump more and more carbon pollution in our atmosphere, these storms will continue to grow in power and frequency. This is the new normal, and without immediate change it will it get even worse.
In screwed news... U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston has ordered Google to comply with FBI-issued National Security letters, and violate our privacy. Back in March, that same judge ruled that these so-called "National Security Letters" were unconstitutional. Yet, only two months later, Judge Illston ruled in favor of the FBI, and ordered Google to hand over user information. The case in March was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which challenged the FBI's demand that National Security Letter recipients refrain from notifying anyone – including customers – about the requests for private information. Judge Illston ruled that the FBI's demand was a violation of free speech rights, and thus the letters were unconstitutional. In the more recent case, Google was challenging 19 NSA letters, but after reviewing sworn statements from FBI officials, the Judge said she was satisfied the letters were issued properly. Many Americans are concerned about privacy violations by our government. They are hoping Google will appeal this ruling, and fight for our right of privacy.
In the best of the rest of the news...
People in the E.U. have said "No" to GMOs. For the third year in a row, Monsanto will not apply for approval to sell genetically modified seeds in Europe, because of low demand from farmers, and strong public opposition. A company spokeswoman said, "As long as there's not enough demand from farmers for these products, and the public at large doesn't accept the technology, it makes no sense to fight against windmills." Currently, eight European Union nations have banned Monsanto's genetically modified corn and other crops. Only Portugal, Spain, and a few Eastern European countries allow GMO corn, and public protest against the crops continues throughout the E.U. Monsanto's announcement comes just a few months after another GMO producer, BASF, gave up on getting approval to sell genetically modified potatoes in Europe because of strong opposition. The people of the E.U. have maintained a united front against GMO producers, and their efforts are proving that organized people can and will defeat organized money.
Republicans in Wisconsin want the right to peek into your bank account when you're out of work. A new bill is moving quickly through that state's legislature, which would require banks doing business with the state to disclose the personal financial information of people who may owe money to the unemployment system. This proposed law would allow officials to freeze bank accounts, and recover over-paid unemployment funds, even when those over-payments were made because of a government error. The bill also proposes other changes to Wisconsin's unemployment system, including cutting benefits on those completing vocational training, and denying benefits to someone who refuses a job offer – even if that job only pays minimum wage. Governor Scott Walker and his Republican cronies have waged economic war on unions and workers, and now it appears they're going after the unemployed. Will the people of Wisconsin take a stand to protect those who can't afford to protect themselves?
And finally... The Biblical story of Noah's Ark has raised questions, even for the most devout believers. If you've ever wondered how Noah found two of every animal, or how it is he fit them on the boat, the creators of Kentucky's Creation Museum want millions in tax breaks to help answer your questions. That's right, they've designed a $150 million dollar theme park called "The Ark Encounter," and they're asking Kentucky taxpayers to foot $37 million dollars of the bill. The park would include a 500-foot-long wooden ark, and other Old Testament attractions, like a Tower of Babel, and a "Ten Plagues" ride. So far, the designers have about $25 million dollars, which is only enough to start building the ark, but the required permits won't be ready until November. So, it appears it will take more than 40 days and 40 nights to construct this Old Testament theme park.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, June 3, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky - in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.