On the News With Thom Hartmann: Drones Used to Pursue Suspected Cattle Thieves in North Dakota, and More

In today's On the News segment: “Occupy the Ports” planned for at least eight cities today, drones used to pursue suspected cattle thieves in North Dakota, Swiss bank officials may release the names of thousands of suspected tax dodgers, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Get ready for another day of action led by the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Over the weekend – 55 patriots were arrested in an early morning raid on the Occupy San Francisco encampment. But not to be deterred, several “occupations” up and down the west coast plan to march on busy ports today as part of the “Occupy the Ports” movement. Demonstrations on ports are planned in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Portland, Anchorage, Seattle, Tacoma, and Houston. Last month – a similar day of action shut down the Port of Oakland – the nation’s fifth busiest port. As a media spokesperson for Occupy Oakland said, “The Occupy movement is attacking the 1 percent at their point of profit.'' Not only should today’s day of action prove the Occupy movement is still stronger than ever – but also it targets the epicenter of our economic problems – our so-called Free Trade centers where we take in goods that used to be made in America – but are now made in places like Asia, Mexico – or wherever else transnational CEOs have taken their race to the bottom for cheap labor.

When it comes to privacy – we’re screwed. According to the Los Angeles Times – unmanned Predator drones aren’t just for hunting terrorists in the Middle East anymore – they’re being used to hunt American citizens too. Three men were arrested in North Dakota on suspicions they stole cattle from a nearby farm – and they were located thanks to the help of a Predator drone conducting surveillance above. Local police are now saying they’ve used Predator drones to run at least two dozen surveillance flights in North Dakota alone since June. Although Congress authorized the drones to be used domestically in 2005 to patrol our Northern and Southern borders – their use for local law enforcement is increasing – with virtually no input by the American people. And privacy experts warn continued use of drones radically threatens the privacy of all of us. As Ryan Calo – the director of privacy and robotics at Stanford University – said, “Any time you have a tool like that in the hands of law enforcement that makes it easier to do surveillance, they will do more of it.” The rise of the military industrial complex – and the militarization of our police are nearly complete. As the chant goes – “this is what a police state looks like.”

In the best of the rest of the news…

Ohio voters trashed one of Governor John Kasich’s radical, new anti-voting laws last week. 231,000 signatures were submitted to the Ohio Secretary of State – enough to suspend the law that shortens early voting and makes it harder to receive absentee ballots. Now, it will be up to voters to ratify or reject the law when it’s put on a ballot in November of next year. According to the Brennan Center for Justice – similar anti-voting laws passed by Republicans across the nation could disenfranchise as many as 5 million eligible voters next election. As much as Republicans claim to support democracy – they ACTUALLY think the less democracy we have, the better for them.

President Obama is finally acknowledging what a lot of us have been saying for years – Republicans are intentionally trying to crash the economy for political gain. In an interview that aired on 60 Minutes last night – President Obama accused Republicans of making the calculation that their, “best bet is to stand on the sidelines, because [they] think the economy’s going to get worse, and at some point, just blame [Obama].” He’s right. We’ll see how this understanding influences his negotiations with Republican hostage-takers as unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cuts are set to expire at the end of the month.

The party might soon be over for corporate tax dodgers. According to two Swiss newspapers – U.S. official are close to nearing a deal in Switzerland to put an end to secret Swiss bank accounts being used by American corporations and rich people to stash cash and avoid taxes. Currently, 11 big banks are under investigation for tax evasion in Switzerland – and Swiss officials are reportedly trying to work out a deal where those 11 investigations will be dropped in exchange for turning over the names of thousands of accounts suspected of tax evasion. Then again – with so many Republican presidential candidates trying to end corporate taxes altogether – there may not be a need for Swiss bank accounts soon anyway.

The U.N. Climate Summit in Durbin, South Africa wrapped up over the weekend – without a comprehensive treaty for the world to fight back against global climate change. The deal reached in Durbin – kicks the can down the road – by simply laying out steps toward signing a new climate change treaty in 2015 – that will be enacted in 2020 – well beyond the time frame most climate scientists agree is the “point of no return” to reverse global climate change. One small victory from the Durbin Summit is that nations like China and India will no longer be considered “developing nations” – exempted from mandatory emissions cuts when a deal is finally reached. But ultimately – UN climate negotiators are beginning to suggest out loud that world leaders – particularly the United States – are incapable of reaching a deal to reverse global climate change. As the framework agreement from the latest summit admits, there are “grave concerns [over] the significant gap” between what nations are willing to do when it comes to emissions cuts, and what needs to be done to actually hold global climate change at bay. Of course, step one is getting oil money out of American politics so that our lawmakers can at least join the rest of the developed world and admit that man-made climate change is occurring.

And finally…Scientists in Switzerland may soon announce that they have found the answer to why the universe is the way it is. According to rumors coming out of CERN – where the largest experiment in human history is currently taking place underground within the Large Hadron Collider – scientists are expected to announce they may have found evidence of the elusive Higgs Boson – a sub atomic particle that is believed to give everything mass – and could serve as the missing link in the standard model of physics. Big news for those of us, excluding Republicans in Congress, who actually believe in Science.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, December 12th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann on the news.