Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The earths is still shaking along the east coast of the United States – after a 5.8 earthquake rocked the small town of Mineral, Virginia and reverberated through the nation’s capitol and several other states up and down the coast – from Georgia to New York. Today – schools and government building are closed in Washington, DC out of fear of after-shocks – and damage has been discovered at the National Cathedral and Washington Monument. It was the largest earthquake to strike Virginia in well over 100 years. Located near the epicenter is the North Anna Nuclear Power Station – rated the seventh most likely nuclear power plant in America to receive core damage in the event of an earthquake. Due to budget cuts – the quake sensors at the plant were removed back in the 1990’s. Luckily – back-up diesel generators kicked in to prevent a meltdown after the plant lost power during the earthquake. The plant was built to withstand a 6.1 earthquake – yesterday’s was a 5.8 – meaning we were that close to suffering a Fukushima-like nuclear disaster near the nation’s capital. Let’s hope this is a wake-up call.
More arrests in front of the White House as demonstrators continue their push-back against the proposed TransCanada oil pipeline. Since Monday more than 160 people have been cuffed in protests. The project – mostly pushed for by oil oligarchs in Texas – will create a massive pipeline across America stretching from Canada to Texas – that will funnel 700,00 barrels of highly toxic crude every day across some of America’s most treasured and pristine lands. Protestors of the project describe it as, “a fifteen hundred mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet". President Obama can stop the project on his own with the stroke of a pen – and environmental activists around the country – many of whom believed President Obama’s promises to heal the planet and voted for him – are hoping he doesn’t turn their back on the them now. This is a big test for the President – will he be the transformative President who takes our country in a new energy direction – or cave into the demands of big oil?
In the best of the rest of the news…
Where in the world in Moammar Gadhafi? Yesterday – Libyan rebels tightened their control of Tripoli and stormed Gadhafi's military compound – looting treasure – weapons – cars – and even Gadhafi’s iconic military hat. But the real prize – Gadhafi himself – is still nowhere to be found as the revolution churns on. Although he did reportedly release an audio tape encouraging his supporters to keep up the fight. Meanwhile – a dangerous situation is developing at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli where 37 foreign journalists – including some Americans – are holed up and under assault. The hotel is located in one of the last remaining strongholds of pro-Gadhafi forces and has been under attack by rebel soldiers since yesterday – putting journalists who are strapped into bulletproof vests in the middle of a gun battle. The journalists have been held against their will in the hotel by Gadhafi forces since Sunday and were threatened with being shot if they try to leave. Let’s hope those who risk their lives to bring us the news – get home safely.
Meet Congressman Paul Ryan – the best lawmaker money can buy. The Huffington Post is reporting a number of tax loopholes being pushed by Paul Ryan that directly benefit his top campaign contributors – in some cases – by name. Ryan tried to pass to pieces of legislation that open up tax loopholes for the household cleaning company “S.C. Johnson & Son” – with the bill even citing the company by name as deserving a tax break. Turns out – “S.C. Johnson & Son” is Ryan’s top campaign contributor giving him more than $41,000. For Ryan’s second biggest contributor, the National Wholesalers Association, he tried to pass another bill chock-full of tax exemptions. Not only that – Ryan tried to pass legislation to give fraternities and sororities tax breaks after the Fraternity and Sorority PAC gave him $24,000 for his re-election campaign. So I guess we know how to derail Paul Ryan’s quest to eliminate Social Security and Medicare as we know – we just have to pay him off!
No money to cut the grass – use sheep! Thanks to Pennsylvania Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s $900 million cut to his state’s education budget – $900 million he used to give special tax breaks to corporations and natural gas fracking companies – two schools now no longer have enough money to have the grass cut. Luckily – they’re employing the help of sheep to get the job done. The Carlisle School District has hired 7 sheep to cut the grass – and the sheep come free of charge since they belong to one of the principals at the local middle school. All in all – using the sheep could save the schools $15,000 a year in mowing costs – which is a big deal now that schools in Pennsylvania have to scrounge for pennies under Governor Corbett’s public education destroying agenda. Meanwhile – energy barons are enjoying a $400 million tax break – as Governor Corbett has made Pennsylvania one of the only gas producing states that don’t tax fracking companies. But I guess that’s what you should expect from a Republican who received $835,000 from oil and natural gas companies during his campaign for Governor.
The jig is up for for-profit colleges. Over the last few months – enrollment at for-profit colleges – or what have become known as “subprime schools” – has plummeted – dropping more than 45% at some schools. A lot of attention lately has been paid to these schools that have an astronomically high rate of student loan defaults and post-college job placement failures – yet receive millions in taxpayer subsidies. Bilking students and taxpayers – as well as other shady practices in the for-profit college industry – has prompted the Department of Justice to get involved in a lawsuit against the nation’s largest for-profit college company – the Education Management Corporation. It’s time to get the hustlers out of the business of educating our children.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, August 24th, 2011. I’m - Hide quoted text - Thom Hartmann – on the news.