On the News With Thom Hartmann: Department of Justice to Investigate Whether New Laws Disenfranchise Voters, and More

In today's On the News segment: Elizabeth Warren is in a statistical dead heat with the Massachusetts incumbent, the Department of Justice will investigate whether new laws will disenfranchise voters, a Koch brothers-owned subsidiary may have bribed foreign governments, and more.

I'm Geoff Holtzman in for Thom Hartmann – on the news…

You need to know this. The “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration turned into a “Crackdown on Wall Street” as NYPD officers disrupted a peaceful march across the Brooklyn Bridge and arrested more than 700 people on Saturday. Yet demonstrators in lower Manhattan’s Zucotti Park – the “central command” of the movement – remain undeterred despite the crackdown. Each day, more and more people are streaming into the park – renamed “Liberty Square” – to join the protests against corporate greed and an economy that benefits the 1% over the 99%. And elsewhere around the country – similar demonstrations have begun. Hundreds flocked to Dewey Square Park in Boston over the weekend to sent up tents and “occupy” that city indefinitely too until major reforms are made to our economy. More and more people are paying attention to what’s going on in New York City and elsewhere – and the attention is only going to grow as thousands of fresh new demonstrators are expected to join the ranks of Occupy Wall Street thanks to influential labor unions that pledged their support for the cause and are expected to dispatch members to the demonstrations this week. Despite a media blackout of the protests, brutality by police, and rough weather – the resolve of the young people who want to transform this nation for the better cannot be broken.

Did the Koch brothers bribe foreign governments? According to a new report by Bloomberg – an internal investigation at Koch industries in 2008 discovered that a French subsidiary of Koch Industries was bribing foreign officials to gain favorable contracts. The person who uncovered the bribes – which were made in six different countries – warned “those activities constitute violations of criminal law.” But the investigation didn’t go much further – as the Koch Industries subsidiary promptly fired the internal investigator in 2009. Her findings though – have just now been made available to the media – which raises the possibility that the Kochs could be tried for violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – which prohibits American companies from bribing officials overseas. The Bloomberg report also details a new allegation that Koch Industries was doing business with the Iranian government to build a methanol plant in the rogue nation. If the Bloomberg reports are true – then it looks like the Kochs not only spend their fortunes on manufacturing AstroTurf movement like the Tea Party in America – but also on bribing foreign government – and doing business with the likes of Ahmadinejad. And they call themselves patriots?!

In the best of the rest of the news…

A showdown over how Americans vote could be brewing. In response to Conservative state legislatures passing restrictive new voting rights law – including voter ID laws and stronger residency requirements – that make it much more difficult for students, senior citizens, and the poor to vote – President Obama said on Friday that he has put the Department of Justice on the case. The President said the DOJ will, “ensure that people aren’t being denied access to the franchise,” as a result of the new laws. According to a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice – these new laws could make it, “significantly harder for more than 5 million eligible voters to cast ballots in 2012.” After what this nation saw happen in last year’s election thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision – we can’t let right-wingers further undermine our democracy or else it will indeed be one-party rule in America very soon.

A new University of Massachusetts poll shows Elizabeth Warren in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Senator Scott Brown for the state’s Senate seat up for grabs next year. Warren – who just declared her candidacy a few weeks ago – has caught fire in the state as more and more voters argue that Republican Scott Brown isn’t doing enough for the middle class. Warren has devoted her life to protecting the middle class – including creating the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – an agency specifically designed to protect average Americans from getting screwed over by banksters. And with growing anger toward Wall Street today – Warren is the type of Senator who can bring about the sort of change Americans across the nation are looking for.

Climate and food researchers warned today that the world needs to begin preparing its food crops for the drastic changes in weather brought about by global warming. According to the UN – surface temperatures on the planet could rise 4-degress over the next century – putting at risk several crops that world’s seven billion people who depend on things like wheat, corn and potatoes. According to estimates by a research program called “Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security” – the world needs to invest $7 billion per year in new irrigation, agriculture research, and rural infrastructure to stave off fast-moving, climate change-induced food crises.

Bye-Bye newspapers. According to the United Nations, newspapers around the world will cease to exist by 2040 – being completely replaced by digital versions. Francis Gurry – the chief of the UN’s Intellectual Property Agency – noted that in the United States – newspapers would likely go extinct much sooner – by 2017. Currently in America – more digital copies of the news are sold everyday than actual newspapers. And while this revolution of how Americans get their news might trouble those who are fondly attached to their ink and paper – there could be a bright side to the death of the newspaper. For example – less trees being cut down. But more importantly – it could spell the end of the batboy tabloids at supermarket checkout stands too. We can only hope.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, October 3rd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.