In today's On the News segment: Fossil fuels aren't just threatening our environment, they pose a major risk to our economy as well; 47 million hungry Americans will see cuts to their SNAP benefits; Syria has completed a major milestone in their work to destroy chemical weapons; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Starting today, 47 million hungry Americans will see cuts to their SNAP benefits. Five billion dollars is being slashed from the program, leaving the poor to survive on even less. Families who are already struggling to make ends meet will see their food stamp benefits drop by an average of $36 dollars per household. That may not sound like a lot, but it's a huge difference to a family trying to feed themselves on an average of $278 dollars a month. According to the Congressional Budget Office, 87 percent of SNAP recipients live in households with children, seniors, and people with disabilities. And, at least 900,000 veterans relied on food stamps as of 2011. These people are not takers like many Republicans claim, these are our children, our parents, our neighbors in need, and those who devoted their lives to protecting this country. Many of them even work hard at regular jobs, but they just can't survive on the slave labor wages that are paid by so many corporations. Senate Democrats managed to fend off more extreme food stamp cuts proposed by House Republicans, but $5 billion dollars is still too much to take away from needy families who can't afford to eat. In the history of our nation, we have come together after tragedies. We have stood up for those who can speak for themselves. And, we have decided that people don't go hungry in the streets in the richest nation on Earth. It is simply un-American to break those promises now, and our lawmakers must know that we wont stand for it.
In screwed news... Fossil fuels aren't just threatening our environment – they pose a major risk to our economy as well. According to former Vice President Al Gore, and his longtime business partner David Blood, companies and wealthy individuals must stop investing in oil and gas. They say it's not just a moral issue, it's a financial one. The so-called carbon bubble has been inflated because investments in toxic fuel sources are far larger than possible returns. But, the fossil fuel industry has denied this fact like they deny climate change. As oil and gas becomes more expensive, and more difficult to extract, the carbon bubble could burst, and create an world-wide financial crisis. Vice President Gore, and many other experts, are calling on companies to divest from fossil fuels before it's too late. Even Bill McKibben of 350.org said, "The carbon bubble that looms over our world needs to be deflated soon. As with our fiscal crisis, failure to do so will cause enormous pain – pain, in fact, almost beyond imagining."
In the best of the rest of the news...
This week, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service delivered a petition to the U.S. Senate – and it was signed by more than 42,000 people. The environmental group collected signatures in opposition to a little-known bill called S.B. 1240 – which activists have nicknamed the "Mobile Chernobyl" bill. The measure was introduced earlier this year, and it calls for the development of so-called "consolidated interim storage" facilities to house our nation's stockpile of spent nuclear fuel. And, it would allow the transportation of this nuclear waster via our national highway system. The idea was first purposed back in the 1990's, but federal studies determined that the high number of ground shipments made a dangerous accident inevitable. It's unclear why 20 years later, with more road traffic, a crumbling infrastructure, and even more nuclear waste, this would suddenly be a good idea. Finding a new place to store nuclear waste doesn't make it any less dangerous to our environment, or our communities. No nukes!
Syria has completed a major milestone in their work to destroy chemical weapons. That nation has completely dismantled their equipment for producing poison gas. Although there is still a lot of work to be done to destroy the 1,000 tons of chemicals and weapons, Syria met the first critical deadline one day ahead of schedule. The announcement was made by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, who said their team was satisfied about the progress. The next stage of the process requires Syria to submit a plan for the total destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, which must be approved by next month. It appears that they are on track to meet that goal as well. The OPCW made this milestone possible, and the international community owes them enormous thanks.
According to RadCast.org, quite a bit of our country is seeing higher than average radiation levels. Radiation levels in cities near the East Coast, like Durham, North Carolina and Charleston, West Virginia, are experiencing spikes over 50 counts per minute. Areas in the South West, like Borger. Texas and Chandler, Arizona are hitting levels in the mid-60s. And, some central states are seeing even higher levels even. Spikes in Spearfish, South Dakota are hitting 65 counts per minute, Craig, Montana is reaching 66, and Frederic, Wisconsin is averaging 60 counts per minute – with spikes at 98. RadCast.org reminds as that the alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they're following levels closely to keep us informed.
And finally... Representative Marsh Blackburn is really worried about footwear freedom. At Wednesday's House Committee hearing on Obamacare, the Tennessee Republican claimed that the healthcare law is taking away peoples' choices. She said, "What's the next thing going to be? You can't buy that Solo cup? You can't buy an inexpensive blouse? You can't buy a pair of shoes that costs less than another pair?" Even though her point was ridiculous, she proclaimed that she plans to fight back. She said, "I am not going to sit here and let them get by with this." Perhaps instead of pointing out the obvious – that no one is coming after our shoes or our Solo cups - we should all be relieved that Marsha Blackburn is on the job, protecting our right to buy cheap footwear!
And that's the way it is today – Friday, November 1, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.