In today's On the News segment: The Chamber of Commerce knows that a government shutdown will hurt families and corporations alike; Typhoon Man-yi forced Japan's Fukushimaoperators to release more than 1,000 tons of radioactive water into the sea; the US House of Representatives is in the midst of a food stamp showdown; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The United States House of Representatives is in the midst of a food stamp showdown. House Republicans want to slash the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by nearly $40 billion dollars, and House Democrats are fighting it with all their might. The drastic cuts are almost ten times the amount approved by the U.S. Senate in June as part of the farm bill. At that time, House Republicans stripped food assistance out of the their version of the farm bill, and approved about $200 billion in subsidies for big corporate farms. While the drastic cuts proposed by the House would never be approved by the democratically-controlled Senate, they show just how little some lawmakers care about their fellow Americans. If these harsh cuts were ever enacted, the House plan would eliminate SNAP benefits for 3.5 million hungry Americans, and eliminate states' ability to wave work requirements during times of high unemployment. In other words, no matter how bad our economy ever got, the House plan would force millions of people to go hungry. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the cuts "a new low" for Republicans, and said that all 200 House democrats plan to vote against the proposal. If House Republicans manage to pass these drastic cuts, they will still have to negotiate a compromise with Senate Democrats. And, the upper chamber has sharply criticized the House's cuts as inhumane. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said, "What the House Republicans are saying is this: Get a good-paying job or your family will just have to go hungry." As this debate heats up, millions of Americans are calling Congress, and telling lawmakers to protect this vital program that so many rely on.
In screwed news... On Monday, Typhoon Man-yi brought heavy rain and flooding to many areas of Japan, including the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The storm brought so much water to the plant, it swamped the enclosure walls of the broken reactors, and forced operators to release more than 1,000 tons of radioactive water into the sea. According to a TEPCO official, "workers measured the radioactive levels of the water," and after "finding it was mostly rain water they released it." The company said, "there is a limit on how much water we can store." The news was a harsh reminder of the thousands of tons of radioactive water being stored at the plant since the 2011 tsunami, and the fact that there is no clear plan to stop the ongoing leaks. The Japanese government has pledged to address the problems at Fukushima, and prevent more toxic water from leaking into the ground. There's no way to undo the damage that's been done to Japan or to our oceans, but officials must act fast to keep this disaster from getting much worse.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Even the business lobbyists are against a government shutdown. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is taking aim at House Republicans, and urging them to stop playing games with our economy. The Chamber's top lobbyist, Bruce Josten, said, "It is not in the best interest of the U.S. business community, or the American people, to risk even a brief government shutdown that might trigger disruptive consequences." In a letter to to members, the Chamber called on the House to pass a three-month stopgap measure to keep government spending at current levels. Mr. Josten wrote, "It is readily apparent none of these important issues are ripe for resolution. We therefore urge the House to act promptly to pass a Continuing Resolution to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling, and then return to work on these other vital issues." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce usually sides with big business, even when business interests collide with the will of the American people. But, the Chamber of Commerce knows that a government shutdown will hurt families and corporations alike. Hopefully, this warning will breakthrough to Republicans.
California's plan to fight climate change has been upheld by a federal appeals court. On Wednesday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against fuel producers, who said California's emissions laws violate the Interstate Commerce Clause. The judges ruled that California has the right to develop "innovative, nondiscriminatory regulation to impede global warming." And, the court even recognized California's effort to make polluters pay for wrecking our environment. The ruling stated, "The Commerce Clause does not protect [a fuel producer's] ability to make others pay for the hidden harms of their products merely because those products are shipped across state lines." The case represents a huge win for the environment, however it will likely be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. In the meantime, California will continue implementing their emissions laws. For too long, corporate polluters have gotten out of paying for any of the damage caused by their toxic products. That is finally changing in California, and hopefully more states will follow suit.
And finally... Thursday is International "Talk Like a Pirate Day," and lots of people ARGH getting in on the fun. To help you celebrate, TalkLikeAPirate.com has put together a how-to guide that explains the basics of pirate lingo. The site provides definitions of common pirate phrases, like "ahoy", "land lubber", and "Arrr." And, if you're looking for a mate to celebrate the festivities with, you can even find a few pirate pickup lines. Their top-ten list included lines like, "Come on up and see me urchins," and "I'd love to drop anchor in your lagoon." Of course, number one on their list of pickup lines is "Prepare to be boarded." The site says there's no real point to International Talk Like A Pirate Day, except that "silliness if the holiday's best selling point." After all, everyone needs a reason to be a little silly sometimes, and talking like a pirate is fun, no matter who you arrrrr...
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, September 19, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.