Tuesday, February 15, 2011

  • Obama’s $3.7 Trillion Budget Calls for Military Spending Increases and Deep Cuts to Social Service Programs

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    President Obama has unveiled a budget plan seeking to trim the federal deficit by cutting or eliminating some 200 federal programs, many dedicated to social services and education, while increasing military spending and funding for the construction of nuclear power plants. Announcing his $3.7 trillion proposal, Obama touted his previously stated pledge to freeze funding for domestic programs outside of the military for five years. Obama’s plan includes two modest tax hikes for banks and oil companies. It also calls for ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans in 2013 and returning the estate tax to its higher 2009 levels. For analysis of Obama’s proposed budget, we are joined by John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation magazine. [includes rush transcript]

  • Wisconsin Governor Launches Attack on Public Sector Employees and Unions; Threatens to Deploy National Guard to Quell Labor Protests

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    Recently elected Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker has proposed a bill that would eliminate almost all collective bargaining rights for most public workers and slash their pay and benefits. Walker has also notified the state’s National Guard to be on alert for actions taken by unsatisfied state, county and municipal employees. On Monday, hundreds of protesters marched on the State Capitol in Madison, with more protests being planned. Joining us from Madison is John Nichols of The Nation magazine and Brad Lutes, a Wisconsin public school teacher. Nichols warns the governor’s actions could have national ramifications: “If Governor Walker pulls this off, if he succeeds in taking away collective bargaining rights from the union, AFSCME, which was founded in Wisconsin back in the 1930s, if he takes down one of the strongest and most effective teachers’ unions, WEAC, in the country, then we really are going to see this sweep across the United States.” [includes rush transcript]

  • Ecuadorian Court Orders Chevron to Pay $17 Billion for Oil Pollution in Amazon

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    The oil giant Chevron has been ordered to pay more than $17 billion in fines and punitive damages in a long-running case over environmental contamination in Ecuador. Amazonian residents sued Texaco, which was then purchased by Chevron, for dumping billions of gallons of toxic oil waste into Ecuador’s rain forest since the 1970s. On Monday, an Ecuadorian judge ordered Chevron to pay an $8.6 billion fine and an equal amount in punitive damages. It’s the second-largest total assessed for environmental damages behind the $20 billion compensation fund for BP’s Gulf Coast oil spill. Chevron has vowed to appeal, but it has also suggested it will not pay up under any circumstance, calling the ruling "illegitimate and unenforceable." The plaintiffs also say they plan to appeal because the damages are too low. Joining us to talk about the case is Andrew Miller with Amazon Watch. [includes rush transcript]

  • DN! EXCLUSIVE: Authorities Search and Copy U.S. Journalist’s Notes, Computer and Cameras After Returning from Haiti

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    Independent journalist Brandon Jourdan recently returned from Haiti after being on assignment documenting the rebuilding of schools in the earthquake-devastated country. However, when he returned to the United States, he was immediately detained after deboarding the plane by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He was questioned about his travels and had all of his documents, computer, phone and camera flash drives searched and copied. This is the seventh time Jourdan says he has been subjected to lengthy searches in five years, and has been told by officials that he is “on a list.” Jourdan joins us in our studio. Catherine Crump, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, says that Jourdan is not the only one facing such treatment by the Obama administration. Crump says many journalists and lawyers who often work abroad have also experienced similar interrogations—and the ACLU believes the First and Fourth Amendments must be honored within U.S. airports. [includes rush transcript]

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