On the News With Thom Hartmann: Florida Wants to Sell Off Their State to the Highest Bidder, and More

In today's On the News segment: Anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA are rapidly shedding supporters in Congress, President Obama stepped up yesterday to keep oil barons from screwing over our environment, Republicans in Florida want to sell off their state to the highest bidder – and they don't want you to know about it, President Obama wants to close Guantanamo despite opposition in Congress – and the French might help him do just that, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. After the largest online protest in the history of the Internet – controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA are rapidly shedding supporters in Congress. Eight Members of Congress – from both parties – including former co-sponsors of the legislation – bowed to pressure yesterday and dropped their support for the legislation as 10,000 websites went dark. The Motion Picture Association of America – the lead lobbyist behind SOPA and PIPA – called yesterday’s protest a “dangerous gimmick” – and chief sponsors of the legislation including Democrat Patrick Leahy in the Senate and Republican Lamar Smith in the House are vowing to push ahead with their bills. At least now they know what kind of headwind they’re facing – and what kind of backlash is possible if this bill passes – which as of right now looks very unlikely thanks to good ol’ fashion “fingers to the keyboard” activism. Keep it up!

On the same front – President Obama stepped up yesterday to keep oil barons from screwing over our environment. The State Department officially rejected the Keystone XL pipeline – that would have transported highly toxic Canadian tar sands 1,600 miles across America, on top of the nation’s largest aquifer, down to Texas where transnational oil corporations could ship it off to Asia, South America, and Europe. Canada says it will now look into sending the tar sands to China. I say Canada should leave all that dangerous carbon in the ground. Despite enormous pressure – including tens of millions of dollars in lobbying and advertising – and even an explicit threat made against the President by the largest oil special interest group – the American Petroleum Institute – the oil barons lost. The environmental movement – and 1,200 patriots who were willing to get arrested in front of the White House last year to protest the pipeline won…at least for now. Let’s keep up the pressure on our lawmakers – and really begin to heal our planet.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Republicans in Florida want to sell off their state to the highest bidder – and they don’t want you to know about it. The State Senate in Tallahassee is considering legislation that will allow lawmakers to privatize critical parts of the commons and outsource government duties to private corporations. That could include everything from selling off public parks to corporate chemical factories or handing over state prisons to corporations like the CCA, which lobbies for harsher drug penalties since they turn a profit off each person they incarcerate. And here’s the most radical thing about the legislation – it allows the lawmakers to make these deals behind closed doors in complete secret. Deals wouldn’t be made public until the contracts are already signed – eliminating any chance of voters being able to weigh in or protest their community being sold. Private corporations are eating up our communities and Republicans are the ones spoon-feeding them.

President Obama wants to close Gitmo despite opposition in Congress – and the French might help him do just that. A French Judge wants to visit Gitmo and investigate allegations of torture and rape made by former French inmates in the facility. The three men making the allegations were arrested back in 2001 along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border – sent to Gitmo where they were tortured for years before being sent back to France to face trial and eventually be released. Earlier this week – a Spanish judge reopened an investigation into whether or not former Bush officials – including Bush himself – engaged in war crimes by torturing people. And British officials are investigating a CIA rendition program that may have involved torturing Libyans. A decade of military misadventures and war crimes is finally catching up with us – and yet President Obama still refuses to hold one person accountable.

Mitt Romney didn’t make history after all. The Romney campaign touted that he was the first non-incumbent Republican to win both Iowa and New Hampshire – turns out though – he didn’t win Iowa. After conducting a recount in the state – GOP officials found that Rick Santorum actually won the Iowa by 34-votes. But officials are still calling the contest a tie – and will not certify a winner since voting inaccuracies were found in 131 precincts and 8 precincts are missing their votes altogether. The caucus in Iowa is not run by the state – but instead by the Republican Party itself. The same Party that is waging a war against Democratic voters across America while at the same time being completely unable to run their own transparent and legitimate election in Iowa.

Speaking of Mitt – his company Bain Capital is a notorious tax dodger. As Romney waffles on whether or not he’ll release his tax returns – ABC News is reporting that the Republican front-runner has a lot of money invested in Bain accounts in the Cayman Islands. According to ABC News, “Romney has as much as $8 million invested in at least 12 funds listed on a Cayman Islands registry. Another investment, which Romney reports as being worth between $5 million and $25 million, shows up on securities records as having been domiciled in the Caymans.” Romney – like other Wall Street 1%ers who use our roads, our police, our education system, and are protected by our military – don’t think they should pay their fair share for it all. In fact – Romney is running on a platform to further lower his own tax rate. That’s not patriotism – that’s greed.

And finally – Iran may be close to developing nukes – but we have dolphins on our side. As tensions grow in the Strait of Hormuz – the US Navy said in an interview that it could deploy dolphins in the area to detect underwater mines. As Admiral Tim Keating said in an interview with NPR, dolphins are, “astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.” Dolphins are also expert diplomats – as Science Daily reported they use diplomacy when they communicate with each other. But animal rights groups aren’t too thrilled with the idea of flipper becoming mine-fodder and have sent petitions to the Navy in protest. If only there was another animal we could use – one that everyone is suspicious of – and one that is far more complex. Quick – someone catch one of those robotic pigeons from the planet Xenu!

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, January 19th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.