In today's On the News segment: Another rural Georgia hospital is closing its doors as that state continues to block the Medicaid expansion; Ohio's Republican governor teamed up with the oil lobby to promote fracking; this year's George Polk Award goes to the investigative journalists who helped Edward Snowden expose massive government spying programs; and more.
I'm Jim Javinsky in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...
You need to know this. Another rural Georgia hospital is closing its doors as that state continues to block the Medicaid expansion. The Lower Oconee Community Hospital does not have enough volume to stay open, yet many of the nearby residents are being refused much need health insurance that would have provided that facility with more patients. This is the fourth rural hospital in Georgia being forced to shut down, which means residents will have to travel about thirty miles if they need hospital care. The Hospital's CEO Karen O'Neal told CBS, "It's a terrible situation, and it's tragic." In Wheeler County, where this hospital operates, one in four residents is uninsured, and more than 40 percent of children live in poverty. The Medicaid expansion would provide these Americans with much-needed healthcare, and it would allow these hospitals to remain open. Republicans have falsely criticized the Affordable Care Act for forcing people to change doctors, but their refusal to expand Medicaid is leaving Americans with no doctor at all. Because of Republican governors and lawmakers, five million people are being denied health insurance, and facilities like this are being denied the income to keep their doors open. It's time for Republicans to expand Medicaid in every state, provide medical insurance to every American, and stop playing politics with people's lives.
In screwed news... Ohio's Republican governor teamed up with the oil lobby to promote fracking. On Sunday, a leaked 2012 document from the Kasich Administration revealed that he worked with corporations like Halliburton to promote natural gas drilling in public parks. The detailed plan also showed that Kasich's administration teamed up with business groups and media to "marginalize" anti-fracking groups and activists. Although the governor's office denied that he had ever seen that plan, an additional document leaked Monday casts serious doubt on Kasich's claim. The governor's Director of Policy, Wayne Struble, sent an invitation to John Kasich's senior staff and officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. That invitation was almost identical to the original leaked document, which promoted drilling in public parks. It's no surprise that a Republican governor supports the fracking industry, but it is shocking to find evidence of them teaming up with the natural gas lobby to create a plan to drill on public land.
In the best of the rest of the news...
This year's George Polk Award goes to the investigative journalists who helped Edward Snowden expose massive government spying programs. On Sunday, Long Island University announced that this year's prestigious Polk Award is being given to Laura Poitras, Ewen MacAskill, Barton Gellman, and Glenn Greenwald. Those journalists worked with whistleblower Edward Snowden to release a series of documents that revealed surveillance programs, and ignited a massive international response. John Darnton, the curator of these awards, said that these journalists "heightened public awareness with perceptive detection and dogged pursuit of stories that otherwise would not have seen the light of day." Along with the brave work of Edward Snowden, these journalists helped start an important debate about privacy, and their work will have an impact for decades to come.
According to RadCast.org, residents and nuclear watchdogs are demanding more information about the radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico, but so far the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not provided them with readings. In addition, RadCast is still seeing radiation levels move up and down with snowfall around our country. Trussyville, Alabama is reporting 33 counts per minute, with spikes of 54, and Salisbury, Massachusetts is averaging 38, with highs of 48 counts per minute. Farmington, Minnesota is sitting at 38 counts per minute, with spikes of 57, and Chico, California is hovering at 29, with highs of 50 counts per minute. RadCast's alert level is 100 counts per minute, however they remind us that there is no such thing as a safe level of radiation.
The Kansas State Senate will block legislation that promoted discrimination. Last week, the Kansas State House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would have allowed individuals to refuse service to same-sex couples, but the Senate will not finalize that legislation. A bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers oppose that bill, and the Senate President, Republican Susan Wagle, said, "my members don't condone discrimination." After the State House passed this legislation 72 to 49 last week, there was enormous pressure from the public and the business community alike. Thomas Witt, the executive director of Equality Kansas, said, "The public outcry by midweek had reached such a volume that the Senate just wasn't going to be able to take it up." Even in Red states, most Americans do not believe that people should be discriminated against because of who they love, and when we speak out, we have the power to stop these hateful laws.
And finally... In honor of President's Day on Monday, the website Goupon decided to offer a special promotion. The site offered $10 dollars off of $40 dollar purchases in honor of Alexander Hamilton issued a press release about their promotion. It read, "The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton – undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country's financial system." While Groupon was half-right – Hamilton is known as the founder of the U.S. Financial system – he never served as our nation's president. It just goes to show that you can't believe everything to read on the internet.
And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, February 18, 2014. I'm Jim Javinsky, in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.