Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. In one of the few issues Republicans and Democrats seem to compromise on nowadays – House and Senate negotiators agreed on terms for a $662 billion defense spending bill late last night. Not only does the spending bill keep our war machine going – but it also gives broad new powers to the President to indefinitely detain terrorism suspects. Under the new provisions – any individual suspected of plotting attacks as a member of Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organization – will immediately be taken into custody by the military – can be detained indefinitely – and even held without a trial. American citizens were exempted from the indefinite detention provision during negotiations. We’ve forgotten our values – values that were instilled in us by our very first President George Washington, who commanded his troops during the Revolutionary War to treat the enemy no worse than an American soldier. He said, “Treat them with humanity, and let them have no reason to complain of our copying the brutal example of the British Army in their treatment of our unfortunate brethren who have fallen into their hands.” Indefinite detention is the way of our enemies – not of us. We need to remember Washington’s lesson. It’s also worth noting that with this latest war spending bill on the verge of passing Congress – Republican leadership has supported more than $1 trillion in war spending since 2002 – including $120 billion rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet – they’ve filibustered or voted down bill after bill that would create millions of American jobs and rebuild OUR nation’s infrastructure at a fraction of the cost. We the American people need to remind these guys exactly who they work for….give their office a call and tell them if we can afford to rebuild Iraq – we can afford to rebuild America.
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The environment is screwed. Republicans in the House today are planning to vote on a payroll tax cut extension – unfortunately they’re tying the tax cut to a poison pill of fast track approval for the Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline – which will ship highly toxic tar sand sludge oil from Canada down to oil barons in Texas - has been referred to as a “ticking time bomb” for the environment. And today’s vote comes on the heels of a new report by Swiss Re – the world’s second biggest reinsurer – that shows that 2011 was the second costliest year for natural disasters in history. From freak mile-wide tornadoes in the U.S. – the flooding of biblical proportions in Australia and Thailand – to the Japanese earthquake and tsunami – insurers are dealing with over $100 billion in wild-weather claims. And as long as our lawmakers keep denying the reality of climate change – each year natural disasters will get worse and worse.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Yesterday – traffic at several ports up and down the west coast was disrupted as thousands of Occupy Wall Street patriots pledged to “Shut Down Wall Street on the Waterfront.” Shipping terminals in Oakland, Portland, and Long View were shut down in yesterday’s day of action. Several arrests were reported around the country – and in Seattle – police used flash-bang percussion grenades to disperse patriots peacefully protesting at the Port of Seattle. Meanwhile, across the pond in the U.K. – British police are experimenting with a whole new arsenal of weapons to be used against peaceful demonstrators. According to The Telegraph – police are testing out shoulder-mounted laser cannons that can temporarily blind people from 500 meters away. The technology was originally created to prevent pirate attacks on cargo ships. The United Nations bans laser weapons that cause permanent blindness – but weapons that cause blindness by accident as these lasers may – are good to go. British cops are also testing out new long-range sound cannons – and long-range “chemical irritant projectiles.” The powers that be are pulling out all the stops – and the high-tech weapons – to keep their grip on power, no matter the civil unrest in the streets.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned of a global economic recession yesterday. In their monthly report for December – the OECD noted that leading indicators “point to a slowdown in economic activity in all major economies...” For the United States, China, and Canada – the data points to slowing economies. As for the 17 reeling nations in the Eurozone – the OECD had more bad news – saying data, “continues pointing strongly to economic activity falling below long-term trends.” There’s still rough waters ahead for a world economy that’s been taken over by greedy banksters.
Republican Presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich doesn’t just want to throw you in jail for smoking pot – he wants to execute you! As Speaker of the House back in 1996 – Gingrich introduced the “Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996” – a bill calling for the execution of anyone convicted of carrying two ounces of marijuana across the border more than once. Defending the bill – Gingrich said, “I have made the decision that I love our children enough that we will kill you if you do this.” Currently – more than half of all Americans support the legalization of marijuana – yet Gingrich is calling for the execution of those who carry it. And he wants to get Ron Paul voters?
Crazy Alert! Fat cats…literally! A cat in Rome is now a millionaire – occupying the ranks of the feline top 1%. When 4-year-old Tommaso’s owner – a 94-year-old childless widow croaked – she left Tommaso $13.3 million in inheritance. According to Italian law – pets are unable to collect direct inheritance, so the money is being watched over by Tommaso’s new caregiver - a nurse named Stefania who made a promise to look after the cat after the owner died. The inheritance makes Tommaso the third-richest pet in the world – behind a German Shepard named Gunter that’s worth 138 million bucks – and a chimpanzee named Kalu worth 61 million bucks. As for what Tommaso, Gunter, and Kalu plan to do with all their millions now – the answer is simple….create jobs of course!
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, December 13th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.