Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Detroit is broke. On Thursday, the Motor City became the largest in U.S. history to file for bankruptcy. After decades of factory closings, and a massive decline in population, even Governor Rick Snyder's little dictator – Kevyn Orr – couldn't save the city from financial ruin. Now that Mr. Orr has moved Detroit into bankruptcy court, creditors will be forced to accept pennies on the dollar for the city's debt. Of course, Governor Snyder and Mr. Orr are calling for huge cuts to Detroit's union and pension contracts, which they've been after for some time. Even before the bankruptcy, Mr. Orr tried to convince these groups to accept 10 cents on the dollar, and blamed public unions for the city's financial strain. Because the pension groups refused the so-called offer, Mr. Orr and Governor Snyder are blaming the bankruptcy on public workers. In a press release yesterday, Governor Snyder wrote, "Despite Mr. Orr's best efforts, he has been unable to reach a restructuring plan with the city's creditors. I therefore agree that the only feasible path to a stable and solid Detroit is to file for bankruptcy protection." In a press conference today, Mr. Orr indicated that secured creditors will be favored over unsecured – translation – Detroit workers are screwed. Governor Snyder has offered no alternatives other to throwing workers under the bus, like investing in the city by creating jobs and repairing infrastructure, which could be done using state funds. Instead, Snyder and Orr will use three decades of Reaganomics, outsourcing, and wage decline to destroy public unions and sell the city off in parts. And, it won't be long before Republican lawmakers in other states catch on, and use forced austerity measures to do the same in their states.
In screwed news... Only weeks ago, thousands gathered at the Texas State Capitol to protest a radical anti-abortion bill. Well, Republican lawmakers in the Lone Star State must like all the attention, because they're considering an even more extreme version of that law. The previous bill banned abortion after 20 weeks, and will shut down the majority of abortion clinics in that state. Although the measure was just signed into law Thursday morning, a few hard-right state legislators think it doesn't go far enough. So, State Representatives Phil King, Dan Flynn, and Geanie Morrison filed their own version of the law, which would ban abortion after just six weeks. The so-called "fetal heartbeat" bill would criminalize abortions after the first half of the first trimester, before many women even know that they are pregnant. It's not clear if state lawmakers will attempt to pass this extreme anti-choice legislation, but it's likely that the protests in Texas aren't coming to an end any time soon.
In the best of the rest of the news...
After spending 2.3 million taxpayer dollars in legal fees, Republicans in the House of Representatives are finally giving up on the Defense of Marriage Act. In 2011, when the Justice Department announced they would no longer defend the discriminatory law in court, Republican lawmakers jumped into the fight to keep same-sex couples from getting married. But, since the Supreme Court recently ruled that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, House Republicans won't continue spending our tax dollars to defend it. The attorney representing the group of lawmakers withdrew from a case in which US service members were suing for military benefits for same-sex partners. As the Defense Department has already announced that those benefits will be provided, there wasn't much of a fight left for the Republican lawmakers. The fight for equality is still ongoing in the states, but at least our federal tax dollars are no longer being used to defend discrimination.
It's not just low-wage fast food workers that are standing up for their right to a living wage. On Thursday, under-paid federal workers walked off the job at Washington, D.C.'s Union Station. They went on strike for the third time in eight weeks to protest poverty wages. Workers are taking part in a campaign called "Good Jobs Nation," to put pressure on the federal government for allowing private-sector partners to pay employees less than they need to survive. According to the National Employment Law Project – known as "NELP", about 75 percent of these workers make less than $10 dollars an hour, and nearly half rely on public assistance programs to get by. The NELP reports that the federal government has more low-wage workers than Wal-Mart and McDonalds combined. Democratic Representatives Keith Ellison and Eleanor Holmes Norton joined striking workers, and they are urging President Obama to put an end to these poverty wages. One of the striking workers, said, "We're all just trying to reach the American Dream." As more workers around our nation stand together and speak out, hopefully that dream will soon be possible.
And finally... Uber is the latest thing for on-demand car services. And in response to the current heat wave, they're now also the latest thing for on-demand ice cream. Today only, Uber users in 35 cities, can not only place an order for a car, but they can use Uber apps to request that an ice cream truck come to their location. The only requirement is that users purchase a minimum number of ice cream treats, and make their requests between 11AM and 5PM. The company tried out the special event last year, and they were overwhelmed by the response. So this year, they expanded the offer to more cities, to help more of their users beat the heat. Despite the amazing response, the promotion will only run one day, as a company spokeman said, "We are not going to be an ice cream delivery company." On-demand ice cream may sound like child's fantasy, but for today, it's a real life possibility for people suffering in extreme heat. Parents, keep a close eye on all your smartphones.
And that's the way it is today – Friday, July 19, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.