In today's On the News segment: It looks like Progressives may be able to claim a victory; there are still massive problems at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant; more than 1,000 medical professionals say that fracking must be stopped; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. It looks like Progressives may be able to claim a victory. According to the Associated Press, “The White House says President Obama's upcoming budget proposal will not include his past offer to accept lowered cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs.” In other words, the next budget won't include so-called “Chained CPI.” That cost-of-living calculation would have lowered Social Security benefits by an averaging $70 dollars a month, or about 6.5 percent over 20 years. If it was enacted by Congress and the President, it would have been a huge cut to seniors, veterans, and the disabled. Ever since President Obama offered chained CPI in exchange for higher taxes on the rich, Progressives have been fighting hard to protect Social Security. They've argued that instead of balancing the budget on the backs of the poor and disabled, we should lift the cap on Social Security taxes and close corporate loopholes that cost us billions. If this AP report is true, Progressives should claim this victory, and keep fighting to make the rich pay their fair share.
In screwed news... There are still massive problems at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant three years after the 2011 tsunami. Yet, we're going to build more nuclear plants right here at home. On Wednesday, one hundred tons of highly radioactive waste water leaked from a storage tank at Fukushima – and that's just the latest spill. TEPCO says that the toxic water overflowed from a storage tank after a valve was left open by mistake. The ongoing disaster at Fukushima proves that there is no such thing as safe nuclear energy, and many nations have begun moving away from nuclear since these problems began. However, here in the US, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz just announced a $6.5 billion dollar loan to build two new nuclear plants in the state of Georgia. Our world should be coming together to help solve the crisis at Fukushima, and eliminating the use of nuclear energy in every nation. Instead, we're going to build even more of these dangerous power plants. We can't wait for the next nuclear disaster to make our voices heard. No nukes!
In the best of the rest of the news...
If Walmart workers made a minimum of $10.10 an hour, it would only cost customers about one penny. According to a new analysis by Bloomberg News, raising the minimum wage at Walmart would cost the company about $200 million dollars a year. If the retailer passed 100% of those costs on to customers, the average prices of a $16 item – like a DVD – would only increase one cent. If the corporation decided to take some of those costs out of their massive profits, customers would see even less of a price increase. And, if Walmart opted to pay workers more instead of spending billions to buy back their own stock, every one of their employees could make more than $25,000 dollars a year without any price increase for customers. According to one company spokesperson, Walmart may support increasing federal minimum wage, but they have not yet made a decision. Higher pay for low-wage workers would mean that both their customers and their employees have more money to spend, and it can be done without raising prices on consumers. Perhaps Walmart will finally see that a higher wage can be a win-win for the company and for workers.
According to RadCast.org, dangerous radiation is being detected in air filters a half-mile away from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
Plutonium and Americium have been detected in air samples, and RadCast says that the situation is much worse than officials are letting on. However, radiation levels in most other areas of our country are dropping, except where we're seeing heavy snowfall. Durham, North Carolina is reporting 29 counts per minute, with spikes of 46, and Salisbury, Massachusetts is averaging 51, with highs of 84 counts per minute. Alpine, Texas is sitting at 18 counts per minute, with spikes of 84, and Olympia, Washington is hovering at 26 counts per minute, with no spikes reported. 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.
More than 1,000 medical professionals say that fracking must be stopped. On Thursday, the Environment America Research & Policy Center delivered letters from nurses, doctors, and other health professionals to President Obama and various state officials. The medical experts say that two immediate steps should be taken to protect our families and our communities. They want President Obama to close the regulatory loopholes that exempt fracking from public health and environmental laws, and they say that our nation must declare some areas – like the sources of our public drinking water – off limits to the natural gas industry. Dr. Catherine Thomasson of Physicians for Social Responsibility said, “Generating electricity shouldn't be a source of illness; power shouldn't be poisonous.” Hopefully our President will agree that the need for real clean energy is just common sense.
And finally... One San Francisco Girl Scout has learned the number one rule of retail real estate: location, location, location. Danielle Lei wanted to make the most of her annual Girl Scout cookie sales. So, on Monday, her and her mom set up shop outside of the Green Cross medical marijuana clinic. Although not everyone would agree that the location was appropriate, her mom Carol said that the 13-year-old got the chance to learn that marijuana patients weren't “drugged out,” and how to be effective at marketing. Danielle sold out within 45 minutes of setting her cookie stand and plans to reach her goal of 1,200 boxes of cookies long before the March 16th deadline. She also plans to donate half of her proceeds to Alzheimer's related charities. According to a post on Facebook, the cookie stand will be back at Green Cross soon. They wrote, “Cookies, cannabis, and charities...what more can you ask for?”
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, February 21, 2014. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.