In today’s On the News segment: The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has filed a lawsuit in two cities claiming that voters violated a state law by banning fracking; workers and activists delivered a petition to the Massachusetts State House to put paid sick time before voters on the 2014 ballot; leaders around the world spoke of their admiration for Nelson Mandela's life-long work as a political activist; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Yesterday, the world lost a great man. Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95. In addition to being South Africa's first black president, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist and human rights icon throughout much of his life. He even spent 27 years locked up as a political prisoner for trying to fight the apartheid in South Africa. As the news of his passing broke, leaders around the world spoke and issued statements to express their condolences, and their admiration for Mandela's life-long work as a political activist. President Obama spoke after the announcement, saying Nelson Mandela was "a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice." The President said, "I cannot imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set." South African President Jacob Zuma said, "His tireless struggle for freedom had him the respect of the world. His humility, his compassion, and his humanity lent him their love." Throughout his life, Nelson Mandela fought the entrenched system of racial oppression, and inspired millions to stand up to human suffering. And, in his later years, he openly spoke out against the Iraq War, racism in America, and the ongoing war on unions. He also spoke strongly against inequality, saying "Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life. While poverty persists, there is no true freedom." It is nearly impossible to encapsulate the life and work of this great man in few sentences. We can pay our respects to Nelson Mandela by carrying the torch for his iconic work, and continuing his fight to end poverty, racism, and oppression throughout the world. In the words of Mandela, "Sometimes it falls on a generation to be great. YOU can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom."
In screwed news... Last month, four cities in Colorado voted to ban fracking, but the fossil fuel industry is refusing to accept defeat. The Colorado Oil and Gas Association has filed a lawsuit in two of those cities claiming that voters violated a state law by banning fracking. The Broomfield Balanced Energy Coalition has also filed a separate suit in another city accusing officials of mishandling ballots. According to Gary Wockner, the director of Colorado Clean Water Action, "The [fossil fuel] industry spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to buy the election, and they were not successful. Now they're trying a last ditch effort." The Colorado Oil and Gas Association alone spent more than $600 thousand dollars fighting the fracking bans, and they're willing to spend thousands more trying to fight the democratic process. The voters of these Colorado cities were clear – they do not want the fracking industry moving in next door – and the fossil fuel industry shouldn't be using our court system to overrule the people's vote.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Thursday's fast-food strike has gotten a lot of media attention, but a lesser-known fight for workers' rights happened earlier this week in Massachusetts. On Tuesday, workers and activists delivered a petition to the Massachusetts State House to put paid sick time before voters on the 2014 ballot. The group, Raise Up Massachusetts, says that there are almost one million workers in Massachusetts who don't get paid if they take a day off because they're sick. Massachusetts requires 70,000 signatures to get questions on the ballot, but workers and activists collected almost 270,000 in support of the measure. Raise Up Massachusetts also collected enough signatures to put a minimum wage increase before voters, but that may come sooner than the 2014 election. The Massachusetts State Senate recently approved an increase to the minimum wage to $11 dollars an hour, and set it to increase automatically with inflation. Measures like these can help make life better for minimum wage workers in Massachusetts, and we need to fight for similar bills nation wide.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels today are pretty similar to yesterday, but a few areas are reporting elevated readings. In the East, Chicopee, Massachusetts is sitting at 44 counts per minute, with spikes of 65, and Philadelphia is also at 44, with spikes of 66 counts per minute. In the Midwest, Frederic, Wisconsin is reporting levels of 46 counts per minute, with spikes of 67, and Colorado Springs is at 61, with spikes all the way up to 81. In the Southwest, Tucson, Arizona is hovering at 49 counts per minute, with spikes of 72, and levels in Taos, New Mexico are up to 87 counts per minute. The Northwest is slightly calmer, with Seattle, Washington at 32 counts per minute, and North Porthland, Oregon at 33, with spikes of 55 counts per minute. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and some areas of our nation are closer to that number than they would like to see.
And finally... A group of scientists is giving "Climate Models" a whole new meaning. Most researchers and science geeks who hear that term think of computer programs, but Francesco Fondella and Rebecca Fowler want you to think "pin-up." The pair teamed up to create a new "Climate Models" calender featuring scientists dressed up to represent their fields of study. They used Kickstarter and a grant from the Awesome Foundation to fund the project, which they hoped would become a new mechanism for communicating climate science. Their Kickstarter campaign explained the project saying, "Scientists use climate models – computer programs that simulate the interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice – to learn what will happen to climate in the future. The Climate Models calender uses scientists as models to teach climate science." Who knows, maybe using sexy scientists could really warm people up to learning about climate change....
And that's the way it is today – Friday, December 6, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.