In today's On the News segment: Anonymous claims it derailed an attempt by Karl Rove to help the GOP steal the presidential election, a new report says the shadow banking system is now worth $67 trillion, Walmart filed a complaint last week with the National Labor Relations Board in an attempt to halt the Black Friday strikes, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. There are major implications for our elections if recent claims by the hacktivist group Anonymous are indeed true. Last week – Anonymous issued a press release boasting that it successfully blocked an attempt by Karl Rove to steal the election on Election Night. For weeks leading up the election, Republicans have been hyping up a get out the vote system known as ORCA that would have played a big part in Mitt Romney winning the presidency. But Anonymous claims that ORCA wasn't meant to get out the vote, but instead to steal the vote. The hacktivists say they discovered Rove's plot months before the election and learned of the inner workings of ORCA and how it was created to rig the vote in three battleground states. Thus, Anonymous says it built a firewall on Election night that blocked ORCA from manipulating vote totals. That might explain why Karl Rove appeared so shocked on Election Night when Fox News called Ohio for President Obama. Regardless of whether or not Anonymous' claims are true – and if they are true, then evidence should be released - there are still serious problems with our privatized vote system.
In screwed news...the shadow banking system runs the world. A new report by the G20's Financial Stability Board finds that the world's "shadow banking" system has grown significantly and is now worth more than $67 trillion. The shadow banking system is a largely unregulated, debt-driven market for complex and often risky financial instruments. Since 2002, the shadow banking system has nearly tripled in size and is today worth roughly half of all bank holdings in the world. It's also bigger than the entire global GDP. At $23 trillion, the United States has the world's biggest shadow banking system. This is what's replaced good ol' manufacturing and the creation of actual wealth in the United States. Now we have an economy dependent on banksters manipulating money. We must rein in Wall Street before it's too late with new regulations to turn banking back into the boring and useful industry it used to be. Otherwise, we could be heading toward another financial catastrophe very soon.
In the best of the rest of the news...
As the planet warms, it's the poor around the world who will suffer the most. That's the warning coming from a new World Bank report that projects global temperatures increasing 4-degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The temperature increase will be felt the most along the equator in the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of the United States. This temperature increase will lead to scarcity in water and food resources and disruptions in biodiversity – which could force mass migrations of people out of affected areas. Rising temperatures will also lead to rising sea levels which threaten cities located in India, Mexico, and Vietnam – as well as several African nations. The World Bank also warns that several small islands around the planet will likely be unable to sustain their populations by 2100. This is the threat that the entire planet faces if global climate change is left unchecked. Luckily – people are getting active. On Sunday – thousands of people showed up outside the White House to protest against the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been described by climate scientists as a "ticking time bomb" for the planet. We need more people in the streets to force government to listen to the future generations that will inherit this planet rather than the oil barons that are destroying it.
Walmart is fighting back against a series of labor disruptions that have rocked the world's largest private employer. With a thousand protests planned at Walmart retail outlets across the nation heading into Black Friday – Walmart is taking action to stop the group planning these demonstrations. The retailer filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board to block the organization OUR Walmart from coordinating strikes at various stores this week. Walmart claims that under current law, workers only have thirty days to demonstrate before they have to take a unionization vote – and so far demonstrations have gone on longer than thirty days. But labor groups are responding by saying that this is not a unionization effort, but instead an effort to bring attention to illegal labor practices – like unsafe working conditions and retaliation against employees. Stay tuned – with just a few days until the busiest shopping day of the year – this fight may just be getting started.
Only in Conservative austerity la-la land is the answer to rampant crime laying off the entire police force. Yet that's exactly what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is doing in Camden, New Jersey. With 42% of residents living below the poverty line, Camden is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the nation. Fifty-nine residents have been murdered this year – already shattering a 20-year record for killings. To fix this, local leaders are disbanding the 141-year-old police department – firing all the unionized cops – and replacing them with a new, lower-paid police force. But critics say this has nothing to do with crime – and everything to do with busting up unions. As Eugene O'Donnell – a Criminal Justice professor in New York told the Huffington Post, "This is not a policing strategy. This is something more sinister. Every cop in America should worry about what's happening in Camden." He's right – public safety is being sacrificed in New Jersey thanks to the Conservative war on working people.
And finally...led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Democrats are taking a tough stance on the looming "fiscal cliff." In an interview with ABC, Pelosi was asked if it's possible that both parties can come to an agreement on the fiscal cliff that doesn't include tax increases on the rich. Pelosi responded, "No." Democrats must take a tough stance on this issue as Republicans try to manufacture a crisis around the fiscal cliff as an excuse to slash spending and bring about austerity. This is disaster capitalism at its finest and we need principled lawmakers to stand up to it.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, November 19, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.