2013-12-05 17:39:23

Thom Hartmann on the News, Dec. 4, 2013

You need to know this. Jim Javinsky fills in for Thom Hartmann. Yesterday, President Obama spoke to a crowd at The ARC arts schoolhouse about the real deficit in our nation – which has nothing to do with our national budget.  He said, “A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.”  The President explained that the lack of economic mobility in our country has led to the wealthy staying wealthy, and the working poor finding it harder than ever to get out of poverty.  He said that this is an American problem, not one that people face in other first-world nations.  President Obama said, “It is harder today for a child born in America to improve her station in life than it is for children in most of our wealthy allies, countries like Canada or Germany or France.”  The president was referring to the perpetuation of trickle-down economics, which started in the late 1970s and created an ever-widening wealth gap in our nation.  He called on Congress to pass legislation that could reverse this economic inequality – like universal preschool, a minimum wage hike, and the Paycheck Fairness Act.  And, his speech brought back images of the old social contract – the so-called American Dream – when a child's economic future would “not be determined by the ZIP code he's born into, but by the strength of his work ethic and scope of his dreams.”  Once upon a time, these principles were not just ideals in our nation, but policies that gave everyone an equal chance at success.  Today, the system is rigged, and it's harder than ever for those born at the bottom of the income ladder to climb their way to the top.  President Obama's speech cut right to the core of some of the biggest issues in our nation, but we need more than words to fix this broken system.  It's time for our elected leaders to get to to work at restoring the American Dream.

In screwed news... U.S. Wildlife Services is killing millions of animals with no accountability to the American public.  According to that federal agency's own figures, more than 22 million animals have been killed since 1996, including at least 13 endangered species.  These aerial killings, traps, and poisons are being used without public oversight, all in the name of helping corporate agribusiness.  The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental groups have petitioned the Obama Administration to hold Wildlife Services accountable, and develop regulations to ensure the ethical treatment of targeted animals.  Camilla Fox, the executive director of Project Coyote, said, “We call on the USDA to clean house and bring Wildlife Services into the modern era of predator conservation and stewardship by adopting rules that justify their actions and allow for public input and the integration of ethics, economics, and science-based ecology.”  Hopefully, our leaders listen to that call and end the killing of these innocent animals.

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

IKEA isn't only a leader in home furniture, but they are paving the way for more corporate sustainability.  This week, the Swedish retailer announced their 10th electric vehicle charging station, which has been installed outside of their Frisco, Texas store.  IKEA also said that they have seven other EV charging stations under construction throughout the U.S.  The Frisco store manager, Robby Wierman, said, “We are thrilled at how these electric vehicle charging stations further the sustainability of IKEA Frisco, and now are available to the public.”  These stations are part of a larger network of EV stations – called Blink - popping up throughout our country, which are owned by the Miami, Florida company Car Charging Group, Inc.  Together, Blink and IKEA are making it possible for people to drive further in electric vehicles, by simply charging them where they shop and do business.  This type of innovation will help spread the use of renewable energy, and allow Americans to feel even better about some of their favorite stores.

According to RadCast.org, the Jet Stream is still dragging radiation from the northern Pacific to the Southwest and Southeast, but levels in the Northeast are fairly stable.  North Portland, Oregon is reporting levels of 32 counts per minute, with spikes of 50, and Seattle, Washington is sitting at 31, with spikes of 43 counts per minute.  In the Southwest, Tucson, Arizona is hovering at 50 counts per minute, with spikes of 67, and Borger, Texas is seeing 40 counts per minute, with spikes of 55.  In the Midwest, Frederic, Wisconsin is sitting at 47 counts per minute, with spikes of 63.  And, Colorado Springs is averaging 60, with spikes all the way up to 80 counts per minute.  Levels in Asheville, North Carolina are 38 counts per minute, but spikes there are up to 62, and Philadelphia is hovering at 43 counts per minute, with spikes of 62.  RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they are monitoring radiation throughout our nation to keep us informed.

And finally... When most people think about the United Nations, they typically think of the organization as one that protects China's Great Wall, the Grand Canyon in the U.S., and helps with humanitarian efforts throughout the world.  But, some people in Germany want the UN to safeguard a different type of national treasure – beer.  The German Brewers Association has asked the UN to add Germany's beer purity law to UNESCO's “intangible cultural heritage” list.  The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization is charged with designating and protecting World Heritage sites that have “outstanding universal value.” Germany's beer law restricts brewers to only four ingredients – water, malt, hops, and yeast – yet they have more than 1,300 breweries and thousands of unique beers.  Some people may not consider beer the equivalent of the Great Pyramids or the Grand Canyon, but beer lovers throughout the world would probably agree that quality brew is certainly a national treasure.