In Today's on the News segment: Troy Davis is now just hours away from death by lethal injection, Republicans are holding victims of natural disasters for ransom, US military is constructing secret drone launch sites all across the Middle East and North Africa, Democratic members of Congress introduced legislation yesterday to overturn last year’s Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The United State may execute an innocent man today. After a Georgia paroles board denied a stay of execution to Troy Davis yesterday – he is now just hours away from death – set to face lethal injection at 7pm tonight. Attorneys for Davis are filing one last appeal today. Demonstrations and vigils hosted by Amnesty International and the NAACP are being held all across the nation in a last-ditch effort to raise enough awareness to save the man’s life. There were even calls for prison guards in Georgia to go on strike to halt the execution. So far – petitions with more than a million signatures – the voices of prominent world leaders like Jimmy Carter and the Pope – and serious doubts about Davis’s guilt – have not been enough to overturn his death sentence. The United States of America is home to 5% of the world’s population – yet tragically we cage up 25% of the world’s prison population – a population that is disproportionately African American. We’re also one of the few nations in the world that still uses capital punishment – and again – a disproportionate number of people sent to die are African American. We have a broken criminal justice system that is now about to make the ultimate mistake this evening. Let’s hope Troy Davis’s life is saved today – but if it’s not – then our nation – each one of us – will have to live with the consequences – and hopefully that will wake up enough people to abolish the death penalty for good.
Another hostage scenario is brewing – this time Republicans are holding victims of natural disasters for ransom. Congress needs to approve a funding measure by the end of the month – or the government will shut down – furloughing 800,000 federal workers. But the Senate and the House aren’t seeing eye-to-eye on a funding bill – and it all comes down to disaster relief aid. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid passed a funding bill that included nearly $7 billion of disaster relief for victims of Hurricane Irene – the Joplin tornados – and the countless people across the nation devastated by historic flooding this year. So far – estimates put damage from natural disasters this year alone at about $32 billion. But Republicans in the House won't spend money on things that show government can actually work and solve problems, so they’re proposing a much smaller relief package – about $3.6 billion – and they likely won’t budge on that number. As Senator Reid said, “I'm not that sure (that a shutdown will be averted), because the Tea Party-driven House of Representatives has been so unreasonable in the past, I don't know why they should suddenly be reasonable." Welcome to Republican rule in American – where the next hostage could be you!
In the best of the rest of the news…
The secret war is expanding. According to the Washington Post – the United States military is constructing secret drone launch sites all across the Middle East and North Africa to patrol the skies and hunt for terrorists. The new military installations are being built in Ethiopia – as well as the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean – and in the African nation of Djibouti – and along the Arabian Peninsula. In this so-called War on Terror – the United States has launched drone strikes in at least six different nations: Afghanistan – Iraq – Libya – Pakistan – Somalia – and Yemen. That means the hearts and minds we’re trying to conquer, to rid the world of terrorism, are under constant fear of death from above at the hands of one of our war machines. One of our founding fathers – James Madison’s – worst fear is now here – perpetual war.
Democratic Members of Congress – Representatives Donna Edwards and John Conyers - introduced legislation yesterday to overturn last year’s Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling that gave corporations the right to spend unlimited amount of money in our elections – and subsequently led to the Republican landslide victory in the 2010 midterm elections. The new legislation will give Congress the power to regulate corporate money in our elections. As Congressman Conyers said, “It is individual voters who should determine the future of this nation, not corporate money."
One Republican Senator is tired of towing the line for the "Party of No." Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee resigned yesterday as Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference – a position that had made him the third highest ranked Republican in the Senate. Alexander said he resigned because he wants to, “foster consensus in the gridlocked Senate.” He went on to say, “Stepping down from leadership will liberate me to spend more time working for results on the issues I care most about.” As in – he doesn’t want to have to go along with the constant Republican filibuster in the Senate – and actually wants to start working with Democrats to find real solutions to get our economy back on track. Now if we can peel off a few more reasonable Republicans – America can put an end to Mitch McConnell’s strategy of crashing the economy to make President Obama a one-term President.
Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts has a fight on his hands. Only one week after entering the race for Senate – consumer rights advocate Elizabeth Warren is surging ahead of Scott Brown in a new poll released by Public Policy Polling yesterday. The poll gives Warren a slight lead over Brown – 46% to 44%. The same poll was conducted back in June – and showed Warren getting trounced by 15 points. But now that she’s in the race – the people are rallying to support her. Let’s hope the support continues – our Senate desperately needs someone like Elizabeth Warren – a woman who’s devoted her life to protecting our nation’s middle class.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, September 21st, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.