In today's On the News segment: Open-government organization Common Cause filed an IRS complaint against ALEC today, world economy needs to add 200 million jobs to come out of global recession and into full employment, Dutch electronic company releases light bulb with 20-year lifetime, and more.
I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann, on the news...
You need to know this. Good news for both the economy and President Obama's re-election hopes. A USA Today survey of 50 economists brought with it higher estimates of economic growth. According to the survey – the unemployment rate is expected to drop to 8% by the fourth quarter of the year – and the economy is expected to grow this year by 2.5%. Those are higher estimates than were projected by the economists three months ago. On top of that – state unemployment rates are dropping at a faster rate than national rates – especially in 14 key swing states that will likely decide the election. In places like Michigan, Ohio, Florida, and Nevada – the unemployment rate is dropping – and President Obama's approval is ticking up. With the economy off the table, Mitt Romney will likely have to play up wedge issues over the next few months. Expect a lot of chatter on the right about female contraceptive use.
While the economy might be improving overall, college graduates are still screwed. According to a new report by the Associated Press – half of all young college graduates in America are either unemployed or underemployed. Armed with technical degrees for high-paying jobs – college graduates are increasingly forced to take work in the service sector – working as waitresses and bartenders as prospects for a post-college job are at their lowest level in a decade. On top of that – the median wages for college graduates are down from where they were in 2000. Couple the poor job outlook with the over one trillion dollar student loan debt bubble – and it's looking like the makings of a lost generation.
In the best of the rest of the news...
More bad news for ALEC. The group Common Cause filed an IRS complaint against ALEC today – accusing the Koch-brother think-tank of posing as a tax-exempt non-profit while actually engaging in widespread lobbying. Common Cause is calling on the IRS to audit ALEC and force the organization to pay penalties and back taxes. ALEC has yet to comment on the complaint. From losing more than a dozen corporate members to now this – we might be seeing the beginning of the end of the corporatocracy known as the American Legislative Exchange Council.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy is in trouble. On Sunday – Sarkozy narrowly lost the first round of Presidential elections in France to Socialist candidate Francois Hollande. Another election runoff is scheduled for May 6th. Following yesterday's vote – Hollande's campaign manager said that the results reflected, "a reaction against austerity." Austerity measures in several European nations from Greece to Spain to the U.K. have crippled economies and mobilized working people into the streets. Major demonstrations in Denmark and the Czech Republic were held over the week to protest against austerity too. And in France – austerity may just end up costing the president his job.
So much for the liberal bias in the media. According to a study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism – President Obama has received the least favorable news coverage so far in this election cycle. In fact – the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, has actually received twice as much favorable coverage from the news media as President Obama. That's something to think about next time the gang at Fox News bemoans a press corps in the tank for Democrats.
Wal Mart is in hot water today following an extensive New York Times report alleging that the retail giant bribed government officials in Mexico to speed up the company's expansion into the market down south. According to the Times – Wal Mart's bribes – often in the form of envelopes of cash, "bought zoning approvals, reductions in environmental impact fees and the allegiance of neighborhood leaders." Wal Mart responded to the allegations with a statement saying they "don't have a full explanation of what happened." I guess now we know how they have those "always low prices."
The United States isn't the only nation dealing with chronic unemployment – the rest of the world is too! A new report by the World Bank says that the global economy needs to create 200 million jobs to recover from the worldwide recession and reach full employment. Twenty-seven million jobs were lost around the world when the economy went in the tank in 2008 – and subsequent job growth hasn't been nearly strong enough to keep up with the 40 million new people who enter the workforce every single year. One way to create jobs is to unleash a green revolution around the world to cut carbon emissions and use energy more efficiently. Now only if we can get the oil barons out of the way to get started.
Texas Governor Rick Perry is America's "Executioner-in-Chief." As The Economist points out in their latest issue – one-third of all executions in America since 1976 have been carried out in Texas. The Lone Star state put 481 people to death in that time – and still have 312 people on death row. Virginia came in second with 109 executions. In total around the nation, 1,291 inmates were executed since 1976 – and as we know today with DNA evidence overturning many death penalty sentences – there's a high likelihood that at least some of those people put to death were innocent.
And finally...how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb? Just one...every 20 years. Coinciding with Earth Day, Dutch electronic company Philips put on sale the first of it's kind super super-energy-saving LED light bulb that is projected to last two-decades without dying out. The light bulb retails for $50 – but generates over $160 of savings over its lifetime. According to estimates by Philips – if every house in America switches over to use the new long-lasting light bulb – the nation would save $3.9 billion a year in energy costs – and cut 20 million metric tons of carbon emission from the atmosphere. So the question should be...what the heck are we waiting for?
And that's the way it is today – Monday, April 23rd, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.