2014-01-07 20:36:51

Thom Hartmann on the News: Jan. 7, 2014

You need to know this.  The polar vortex is moving across the United States, and a large area of our nation is facing bitter cold.  As many Americans are dealing with temperatures well below zero, the Right-wing media is pointing to the cold snap as so-called proof that global warming is a myth.  What these conservative talking heads don't understand – or simply choose to ignore – is that global warming refers to rising average temperatures around the globe.  The cold that we are experiencing right now is weather, and it does not disprove the fact that our world is getting hotter.  In fact, these extreme, frigid temperatures hit the U.S. after the 2nd-hottest December since 1979 and the warmest November on record.  Global warming is not going to eliminate winter in our nation any time soon, but the extreme highs and lows can lead to more extreme hurricanes, droughts, and - yes - even snow storms.  Temperatures of 32 below zero in Fargo, North Dakota and negative 15 in Chicago don't disprove global warming, but they may be part of the larger pattern of weather “weirding” that we're experiencing because of climate change.  It's time for the climate-change-skeptics to stop denying science, and start recognizing reality.  The Right should stop wasting time trying to disprove climate change, and start helping us try to minimize its impact.  Yes, it's bitterly cold outside, but overall our planet is getting warmer.  Now, let's do something about it while we still have a chance.

In screwed news... Nine hundred of the wealthiest Americans won't pay any more into Social Security for the rest of the year.  In fact, this super-rich group met their entire 2014 obligation to the program just two days into the new year.  This elite club is made up mostly of corporate CEOs from companies like Philip Morris, Comcast, NewsCorp, and Starbucks, and they are so rich that they're in the top one one thousandth of all income earners.  The Social Security tax only applies to the first 117,000 dollars of income, which means these super-rich Americans don't contribute to the program for 363 days out of the year.  Many on the Right have proposed reducing Social Security benefits or privatizing the program entirely.  However, we don't need to do either to ensure that this program is here for future generations.  All we need to do is lift the cap on Social Security taxes, and make those at the top contribute more to this vital program.

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

Moral Mondays are coming to Georgia.  The weekly protests began in North Carolina in 2012, as a response to the extreme right-wing legislation in that state.  And now, Progressives in the Peach State will gather during the 2014 legislative session to express their frustration about Republican policies in their state.  They are fed up with Governor Nathan Deal and the right-wing legislature for refusing to expand Medicaid, trying to restrict voting rights, and diverting state funding away from public schools.  Moral Monday Georgia calls themselves “a multiracial, multi-issue coalition of citizens working for positive change for the public good.”  Georgia's legislative session begins on January 13th, and Moral Monday Georgia will be there right from the start.  Hopefully Progressives in more Red states will stand together and fight these far-right policies.  Who knows, perhaps there's a national Moral Monday in our future?

According to RadCast.org, changing weather patterns may be to blame for radiation spikes throughout our nation.  Asheville, North Carolina is averaging 36 counts per minute, with spikes up to 86, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is hovering at 44, with highs of 70 counts per minute.  Rapid City, South Dakota is sitting at 43 counts per minute, with spikes up to 72, and Lakewood, Colorado is averaging 62, with highs of 82 counts per minute.  Taos, New Mexico is reporting an average of 71, and Tucson, Arizona is hovering at 50 counts per minute, with spikes of 79.  Seattle, Washington is sitting at 31, with spikes of 47, and San Leandro, California is averaging 71, with highs of 105.  RadCast.org's alert level is 100 counts per minute, but they remind us that there is no safe level of radiation.

Renewable energy has passed a major breakthrough in Spain.  For the first time in that nation's history, wind power was their top energy source in 2013, narrowly beating out nuclear and far out-pacing coal.  According to a new report from Red Eléctria de España, the operator of the Spanish electricity system, wind energy met 21.1 percent of Spain's demand in 2013 – surpassing nuclear energy just slightly, which made up 21 percent.  Spain also met 14.4 percent of demand with hydroelectric, 4.9 percent from solar, and 2 percent from renewable thermal.  The Spanish have taken some huge steps towards phasing out fossil fuels and nuclear, and they are well on their way to a cleaner, greener future.

And finally... If you thought the 2012 GOP presidential primary was a spectacle, get ready for the 2014 Tennessee governor's race.  If Mark “Coonrippy” Brown meets the filing requirements, he may be one of the most interesting candidates our nation has ever seen.  Mr. Brown is an internet celebrity, who became famous from YouTube videos featuring him singing in the shower, dancing with Rebekah – his pet raccoon.  Back in August, Rebekah was seized by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for allegedly attacking chickens at a local high school, and Mr. Brown has been fighting to get her back.  He petitioned Governor Bill Haslam for a permit to keep Rebekah, which included more than 60,000 signatures, but the governor refused.  Mr. Brown said that because of Gov. Haslam's refusal, “All eyes were on Tennessee and it made us look bad.  It made us look like we were under Caesar's law.”  So, Mark “Coonrippy” Brown is running for office, and he says his gubernatorial bid is “all about the raccoon.”  It looks like 2014 is going to be one heck of an election year.

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