In today's On the News segment:More than 100 protesters occupied the Florida Governor's office and said they weren't leaving until he asks lawmakers to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in that state; Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representative passed legislation which will raise taxes on the bottom 80 percent of income earners, and give those who earn over a million a $10,000 tax cut; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott had a few visitors yesterday. More than 100 protesters from the group Dream Defenders arrived at his office, and said they weren't leaving until Governor Scott asks lawmakers to repeal the Stand Your Ground law in that state. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, one of the Dream Defenders said, "If the courts aren't going to deal with these issues, we have to call upon our elected officials to make changes." After the death of Trayvon Martin, Governor Scott called a Special Task Force to review the law, however they recommended that it stay in place. Protesters say they are not accepting that recommendation. The group vowed to stay in the Governor's office overnight, and may stay longer if Rick Scott refuses to address their concerns. Governor Scott was out of town during the protest, but his office issued a statement about George Zimmerman's acquittal, saying, that the Martin family accepted the jury's verdict and "the Governor appreciates the service of the six women on the jury who did their duty as part of our country's judicial process." Regarding the Stand Your Ground law, the Governor's office said, "The Task Force listened to Floridians across the state and heard their viewpoints and expert opinion on this law. The task force recommended that the law should not be overturned, and Governor Scott agrees." Florida's Dream Defenders and other Stand Your Ground opponents disagree, and they're not giving up on the fight to repeal this unjust law in their state.
In screwed news... Republicans in North Carolina aren't satisfied with only screwing over women and the unemployed. They want to make life harder for poor people in their state as well. Yesterday, after less than a half an hour of debate, Republicans in the North Carolina House of Representative passed legislation which will raise taxes on the bottom 80 percent of income earners, and give those who earn over a million a $10,000 tax cut. The measure also cut North Carolina's corporate tax rate, and eliminated their estate tax, which will directly benefit top income earners in that state. Yet, Republican lawmakers voted to end North Carolina's August sales tax holiday weekend, which helps parents get kids ready for school, and they eliminated a tax holiday in November, meant to help low-income residents afford energy efficient appliances. As if these changes weren't bad enough, North Carolina Republicans want to cut corporate taxes even more in the coming years, "if tax revenues grow at a strong enough clip." According to the Think Progress Blog, the bill represents the most regressive changes to North Carolina's tax code in 80 years. North Carolina residents say that this is just more of the same from the extreme right-wing lawmakers in their state. This is sure to be a topic during the coming "Moral Mondays" protest.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Anger over government surveillance is creating some strange alliances. Almost two dozen groups have signed on to a lawsuit against the NSA, and they represent a wide range on the political spectrum. Plaintiffs in the case include Progressive groups like Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch, and far-right groups like CalGuns and a major firearms manufacturer. The lawsuit was brought by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and it has brought together a coalition of parties who are typically on opposite sides of almost every issue. The diverse group of plaintiffs paints a clear picture of how the majority of people in our nation feel about government spying – regardless of where they stand on politics. We may be staunchly divided on many issues, but when it comes to privacy, there's strong evidence that Americans of all political stripes will stand together to protect our Fourth Amendment rights.
Legendary musician Stevie Wonder is standing up to "Stand Your Ground" laws. During a concert over the weekend, he made a pledge to his audience that he won't perform in states that have such "shoot first" laws on the books. Stevie said, "for the gift that God has given me, and for whatever I mean, I decided today that until the Stand Your Ground law is abolished in Florida, I will never perform there again. As a matter of fact, wherever I find that law exists, I will not perform." And, he called on his audience to get involved to change these laws. He said, "What we can do is we can let our voices be heard, and we can vote in our various countries throughout the world for change and for equality for everybody." After his statement, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. As those who are working to end Stand Your Ground laws say, we each may be only one person, but together we can fight for change.
And finally... Since July 4th, two-year-old Hazel Hammersley has been stuck in an L.A. children's hospital getting chemotherapy to fight her cancer. In an effort to lift her spirits, Hazel's mother and grandmother spelled out "Send Pizza" in medical tape on her hospital room window. The pair said they were just being silly, and trying to make Hazel smile, so they were quite surprised when 30 pizzas showed up. Apparently, a Reddit user saw the message, and posted a picture of it online. After a couple days, the picture went viral, and pizzas started flooding in to the children's cancer ward at the hospital. The staff and children celebrated by playing music and having a pizza party. However, they kept getting so many pizzas, they posted a message online to ask people to stop sending them. The thank you message on the hospital's blog reads, "You've made a little girl very happy, but no more pizza is needed." Apparently, Reddit users liked the story so much, that they're now sending pizza to children's hospitals all around out country.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, July 17, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.