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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Maryland to Become 18th State to Ban Death Penalty, and More

Monday, 18 March 2013 15:42 By Jim Javinsky, The Thom Hartmann Program | Video Report
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In today's On the News segment: The Senate Budget Committee approved a deficit reduction plan that would include a minimum wage increase, and more.

Jim Javinsky here - Thom Hartmann – on the news...

You need to know this. Maryland will soon become the 18th state in our nation to ban the death penalty. That state's lawmakers approved the ban last week, by a vote of 82-56, and Governor Martin O'Malley will sign the measure into law at the end of this legislative session. In the past 37 years, five men have been executed in Maryland, and there are currently another five men on death row. The new legislation, which Gov. O'Malley has pushed since 2007, converts death sentences into life without parole, and allows the governor to commute sentences, or change them to a specified period of incarceration. In an op-ed published this morning, Gov. O'Malley laid out some astonishing statistics that show, not only is capital punishment extremely expensive, but it fails to deter criminals from committing violent crimes. He wrote that in 2011, states with a death penalty had an average murder rate of 4.9 per 100,000, while states that didn't use capital punishment had a lower murder rate of 4.1 per 100,000. According to O'Malley, "Our free and diverse Republic was not founded on fear, or on revenge, or on retribution. Freedom, justice, the dignity of every individual, equal rights before the law – these are the principles that define our character. The death penalty is inconsistent with these principles." And the Governor is absolutely right. It's time we live up to "freedom and justice for all," and abolish the inhumane practice of execution in every state in our nation.

In screwed news... Walmart wants to keep Washington, D.C. employees in poverty. The low-wage retailer is scheduled to open six stores in the D.C. region, while at the same time actively fighting a proposed bill that would ensure workers at large retailers earn a living wage. Currently, the minimum wage in our nation's capital is $8.25 an hour, but this new legislation would require national retailers who make over $1 billion a year to pay an hourly wage of $11.75, and offer benefits to their employees. D.C. Council Chair Phill Mendelson introduced the proposal, saying, "by adopting a living wage standard for large retailers, the District can ensure economic development better meets the community's need for family-supporting jobs." A substantial wage increase like this one could reduce the need for government wage subsidies, such as food stamps and Medicaid. It's clear that Walmart would rather have taxpayers pick up the tab for services that it's low-wage workers can't afford, but it's time to stop their corporate welfare. If Walmart wants to do business in D.C., they may finally have to pay for the privilege to do so.

In the best of the rest of the news...

On Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee approved a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.85 trillion over 10 years, and the proposal includes two provisions that many progressives should be excited about. The panel added Senator Bernie Sanders' amendments to raise the minimum wage, and end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs – and profits – overseas. Senator Sanders said, "at a time when we have a $16.6 trillion national debt; at a time when roughly one-quarter of the largest corporations in American are paying no federal income taxes; and at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high, it is pat time for corporate America to contribute significantly to deficit reduction." That's why we call him "America's Senator" - because Senator Sanders knows we can't reduce deficits by cutting spending alone, and that it's immoral to balance the budget on the backs of the poor. It's time to make the tax-dodging corporations pay their fair share. And Sen. Bernie Sanders is leading the fight.

When you think European financial crisis, you think Greece, or Spain, or Italy. But economic trouble in the small island nation of Cyprus is causing a serious panic throughout Europe. Cyprus banks are in need of a $13 billion dollar bailout because of the exposure to the financial troubles in neighboring Greece. In exchange for the bailout, representatives from the European Central Bank and IMF, along with finance ministers from European countries, have proposed a radical plan to impose a one-time tax on bank depositors. The plan calls for a 6.75% tax on all bank deposits up to 100,000 euros, and a 9.9% tax on deposits over that amount. As residents learned of the proposal, people rushed to banks and ATMs to withdraw their savings to avoid the tax. If leaders are not careful, this policy could bring down the banking system in Cyprus, and possibly throughout Europe. Let's hope they make the right decisions, and stop this financial disaster before it's too late. Stay tuned.

And finally... Watch out for the gun-toting ninjas in Illinois. At least, that's the warning of one 17-year-old boy from Elmwood Park. The boy was taken to the hospital on Friday, with a gunshot wound to his left groin area, when he told police he was attacked by two gun-yielding men in ninja masks. After a police investigation, which turned up no evidence of the two attackers, the boy eventually admitted the injury was self-inflicted. Apparently, he thought it was a brilliant idea to play around with a gun while driving, and it went off, shooting him in the groin. Thankfully, the boy's injury didn't result in the loss of his life. The loss of his pride, however, is another story.

And that's the way it is today – Monday, March 18, 2013. I'm Jim Javinsky – in for Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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