Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. According to top administration official, President Obama will not strike Syria without Congressional approval. During an interview on NPR, Deputy National Security Adviser Blinken said, "the president has the authority to act," even without congressional approval, but added, "it's neither his desire nor intention to use that authority absent [of] Congress backing him." And, that approval is looking less and less likely. The Think Progress Blog did an analysis of public statements given by Representatives in the House, and found that only 44 said they will definitely vote to approve military action. More than 200 members of Congress say they will definitely vote against the strike, or that it's highly unlikely that they would support it. Even those senators who support some type of action are looking for an alternative. Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp are circulating a resolution to delay action, and resolve the conflict using diplomatic means. In addition, it's not only the U.S. Congress that opposes a military strike in Syria. United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-moon warned that "ill-considered" military action in Syria could have "tragic consequences" for the Syrian people. President Obama, and those who support the strike, now stand in opposition to the U.N., Russia, China, and some European nations – not to mention a vast majority of the American people. When President Obama was asked Friday about acting without congressional approval, he refused to speculate on how he might act. Perhaps the weight of an international push back, combined with the vocal opposition of Americans, will keep our nation from triggering a potential world war.
In screwed news... The Republican Governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, thinks making poor people starve will somehow create jobs. Brownback is reinstating work requirements for those who receive food stamps, despite the fact that many recipients still can't find work. Most states wave the 20-hour-per-week work requirement during times of high unemployment, but Kansas is reinstating the measure, and kicking 20,000 people off the food stamp rolls. Annie McKay, of the Kansas Center for Economic Growth, said, "Taking someone off food stamp assistance isn't going to suddenly create jobs for them." But, eliminating help for the needy is Governor Brownback's typical approach to poverty. The Republican governor has already kicked 15,000 people off welfare, eliminated tax credits that help low-income Kansans, and shifted that state's tax burden from the wealthy to poor. Republicans like Governor Sam Brownback leave little doubt that "compassionate conservatism" is still a myth.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Although The state of Ohio hasn't legalized gay marriage yet, a federal court has ruled that same-sex marriages performed out-of-state must be legally recognized. For the second time in two months, U.S. District Judge Timothy Black ruled that a same-sex partner has a right to be listed as "spouse" on a death certificate. The two cases involved separate men, who were fighting for the legal and moral right to be listed as a surviving spouse. Judge Black cited the Supreme Court's decision to strike down a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act in his ruling, but recognized that a portion of that law is still being challenged. He wrote, "The issue whether states can refuse to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages is now surely headed to the fore." Many LGBT advocates say that Judges like Timothy Black are helping pave the way for equality in more states, and this ruling provides hope that discrimination may someday come to an end.
With only two months until Virginians will vote for their next governor, tens of thousands of people have been kicked off the voter rolls. According to the Think Progress Blog, about 57,000 Virginians have been flagged as registered to vote in another state. Registered voters are being purged from the voting rolls without notice, or an opportunity to dispute the claim. And, according to at least one Virginia Resident, the list has serious errors. The woman was legally registered to vote in Accomack County, Virginia, yet her name was struck from the rolls without warning. Similar schemes to disenfranchise voters are going on in Texas, North Carolina, Kansas, and other states. Voting rights advocates have their work cut out for them in fighting back against the Republican plan to steal our votes.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine may be on the way to find a cure for Down Syndrome. Scientists have found a way to completely reverse the effects of the disease in mice using a single injection. The injection boosts brain and body growth using a gene known as SHH. Dr. Roger Reeves, who worked on the study, said, "Most people with Down Syndrome have a cerebellum [which is the part of the brain that controls motor functions] that's about 60 percent of the normal size. We were able to completely normalize growth of the cerebellum through adulthood with that single injection." Adjusting the treatment for use in humans is still a long way off, and scientists say it would be complicated, but this is a great start on a possible cure.
And finally... The Northern California County of Siskiyou wants to secede from the Golden State. Earlier this week, the County Board of Supervisors voted 4 to 1 to form a new state called "Jefferson." According to a local paper, a member of the board said "regulation, restriction of rights, lack of representation, regionalism, and restoration of government" are the reasons the county wants to secede. Siskiyou is also inviting surrounding countries in California and Oregon to join them. It's unlikely that statehood will be granted, because of constitutional requirements. And, it's ironic that the newly proposed state would select Thomas Jefferson as a namesake, as it was Jefferson who said, "The cement of this union is the heart-blood of every American."
And that's the way it is today – Friday, September 6, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.