In today's On the News segment: Provision buried in the latest defense authorization bill would overturn ban on government propaganda against American citizens, Vermont becomes first state to ban fracking, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission becomes the third agency to investigate JPMorgan's $3 billion gamble, and more.
I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Tens of thousands of activists stormed Chicago to protest against war and inequality while the city hosts an annual NATO convention. Today is day two of the summit and demonstrations after at least 45 people were arrested during peaceful marches and rallies over the weekend. While some are applauding the Chicago Police Department's professionalism in dealing with protestors – others are pointing to repeated law enforcement abuses against citizen journalists and heavy-handed crown control tactics. Several journalists were arrested in Chicago over the weekend with little justification, and others were intimidated, detained, and interrogated without any probably cause. For today – demonstrators plan to march to Boeing's headquarters in downtown Chicago to protest against the defense company's role in our ongoing wars abroad. Keep an eye on this.
Meanwhile in Maryland – President Obama met with G-8 leaders to discuss the ongoing European debt crisis. Following a wave of elections across the continent that saw pro-austerity parties get shellacked by voters, President Obama spoke of the need to promote job creation and economic growth over destructive austerity. The President told leaders, "There's now an emerging consensus that more must be done to promote growth and job creation right now in the context of these fiscal and structural reforms." Here in the United States, the President is up against another political party pushing austerity – the Republicans. But according to House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan – the author of the latest Republican budget which privatizes Medicare, slashes Medicaid by over $800 billion and makes deep cuts to transportation and education programs – Republicans aren't trying to push European austerity – they're trying to prevent European austerity. Or so he said on Meet the Press on Sunday. Ryan is partially right – his budget isn't austerity for all Americans – it's just austerity for working people, since the super-rich in American get a $3 trillion tax cut.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission is now opening an investigation into JP Morgan Chase's failed $3 billion gambling binge. The CFTC becomes the third agency investigating the bank – joining the Securities and Exchange Commission and the FBI. There are reports that federal prosecutors in New York are also interested in what exactly happened for the bank to lose that much money. While the investigations are all preliminary, and no one has officially been accused of wrongdoing, this case should highlight the need for stronger regulations on Wall Street bankers who have clearly proven unable to regulate themselves.
Our criminal justice system is severely flawed. According to a new report by the National Registry of Exonerations, over 2,000 people convicted of a crime between 1989 and 2012 were later exonerated. Many of the exonerations came after it was discovered that police officers deliberately framed hundreds of innocent Americans for drug and gun crimes. Even more troubling, of the 2,000 people later exonerated – 101 of them were sentenced to be executed – serving decades on death row until they were finally released.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko is resigning from his post. His announcement comes today after months of infighting on the NRC – as pro-nuclear industry commissioners clashed with Jaczko on new safety regulations and what to do with Yucca Mountain. As Ryan Grimm at the Huffington Post reports – Jaczko's ouster is a result of him acting against corporate interests and thus being targeted in a smear campaign that accused Jaczko of being abusive toward women – claims that were completely unfounded. With a nuclear crisis in Japan still ongoing – it's crucial that United States regulators don't fall victim to regulatory capture that puts Americans at risk of a Fukushima-like disaster in the near future.
Government propaganda could be coming to a TV or computer screen near you. Reporter Michael Hastings at BuzzFeed is raising attention about a new provision buried deep within the latest defense authorization bill passed out of the House of Representatives last Friday that gives the State Department and the Pentagon the authority to unleash propaganda on American citizens. The new provision overturns two existing laws passed in 1948 and 1987 that prohibited the government from disseminating propaganda information. Supporters argue that the ban on domestic propaganda ties the government's hands as it tries to respond to Al-Qaeda's own propaganda on the internet. Already the Pentagon spends $4 billion a year swaying public opinion around the world to support our nation's war efforts.
It's official – Vermont is the first U.S. state to ban fracking. Last week – Governor Peter Shumlin signed into legislation that prevents energy companies from injecting chemicals deep underground to extract natural gas – what's known as hydraulic fracking. The practice has been proven to poison groundwater and even lead to earthquakes. Governor Shumlin defended the new law saying, "drinking water will be more valuable than oil or natural gas...Human beings survived for thousands and thousands of years without oil and without natural gas...we have never known humanity or like on this planet to survive without clean water." Well done, Vermont.
Sarah Palin is back – and it looks like she's having more trouble with geography. Voters in Kansas received a robocall last week from the gubernatorial quitter herself – urging them to vote for Republican Senate candidate Ted Cruz. The only problem is – Ted Cruz is running for Senate in Texas...not Kansas. But that's ok – some people in Kansas can see Texas from their own backyard.
And finally...the United States Coast Guard recovered nearly 8,000 pounds of marijuana floating off the coast of California Sunday night. Using several boats, the Coast Guard recovered 160 bales of marijuana – with a street value of over $3.6 million. In a related story – there's been several reports of fish ditching their schools and swimming solo.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, May 21, 2012. I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann – on the news...