In today's On the News segment: Organizers in Alaska have obtained enough signatures to put recreational marijuana up for a vote this coming August; Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has introduced a proposal to guarantee every high school senior in his state can go to a community college or technical school for free; there's new legislation aimed at putting government back in the hands of the people; and more.
I'm Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Money has corrupted our political system, but there's new legislation aimed at putting government back in the hands of the people. On Wednesday, Democratic Representative John Sarbanes introduced the Government By the People Act, and it's already been endorsed by at least 30 progressive organizations. According to Demos, this legislation would increase "the power of small contributions that ordinary citizens can afford to give." The new bill has four key provisions, including creating the Freedom from Influence Fund to match small contributions 6-to-1, and providing a $25 dollar tax credit for individuals who make donations. The Government by the People Act would also increase matching funds in the last two months of a general election to counter outside spending groups, and it would create People PACs to join the voices and power of ordinary citizens. Karen Flynn of Common Cause said, "The Government by the People Act is a shot of powerful medicine for the cancer of big money growing within our body politic." We should not give up on the fight to overturn the Citizens United ruling, and our nation must proclaim that money is not speech. But, this act can help restore the political power of real Americans. Corporations and billionaires do not deserve more speech than the rest of us, and our politicians should answer to all voters – not just their big-money donors. The Government by the People Act will help make this possible, and we can call on our lawmakers to make this bill a reality.
In screwed news... Last year was one of the 10 warmest years on record, and our future could be even hotter. According to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, global temperatures are on a path to keep rising for generations to come. WMO Secretary-General Michael Jarraud said, "Our action – or inaction – to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases will shape the state of our planet for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren." As Mr. Jarraud explained, every recent decade has been warmer than the previous one, and it's time to take immediate action if we want any chance at reversing this warming trend. If we don't act fast, we could be right around the corner from the next mass extinction. For the sake of our planet, and our species, it's time to get serious about climate change.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The governor of Tennessee wants everyone to go to college. Governor Bill Haslam – a Republican – has introduced a proposal to guarantee every high school senior can go to a community college or technical school for free. This proposal is part of Governor Haslam's "Drive to 55" campaign, which is a plan to ensure that 55 percent of Tennessee residents have some sort of advanced degree. In his State of the State address on Monday, Governor Haslam said, "We are committed to making a clear statement to families that education beyond high school is a priority in the state of Tennessee." Governor Haslam is setting an important example, and hopefully more states will follow his lead.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are calm in most regions today, but waves of radiation may cause some high spikes in the coming days. Ithaca, New York is reporting 41 counts per minute, with spikes of 69, and Charleston, West Virginia is averaging 42, with highs of 68 counts per minute. Frederick, Wisconsin is sitting at 45 counts per minute, with spikes of 75, and Lakewood, Colorado is hovering at 63, with highs of 91 counts per minute. Oakland, California is reporting 30 counts per minute, with spikes of 49, and Seattle, Washington is averaging 30, with highs of 54 counts per minute. RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, however they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.
Another state may be on it's way to re-legalization. Organizers in Alaska have obtained enough signatures to put recreational marijuana up for a vote this coming August. If this measure is approved by the voters, Alaska would be the third state to pass a law legalizing pot for recreational use. The initiative in Alaska is modeled like the new law in Colorado, and it would remove criminal penalties for pot use, and regulate its distribution. Alaska joins the growing list of states considering legislation and ballot initiatives to put an end to the era of cannabis prohibition, and it looks like our nation is finally moving away on Nixon's failed drug war. These measures are closing the door on a dark chapter of our history, and moving us back towards full marijuana legalization.
And finally... You know things are bad for a creationist when even Pat Robertson is calling them a joke. The televangelist responded to a debate between creationist Ken Ham and Bill Nye "The Science Guy," and said, "Let's be real, let's not make a joke of ourselves." While Pat obviously believes in the story of creation, he does not believe that the world is only 6,000 years old. He said, "There ain't no way that's possible. To say that is all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense, and I think it's time we come off of that stuff and say this isn't possible." It's great to see that Pat's finally embracing science. Perhaps now he'll rethink that whole "gay marriage causes hurricanes" thing.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, February 6, 2014. I'm Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.