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On the News With Thom Hartmann: Montana’s Supreme Court Blocks Citizens United Decision From Applying to State Election Laws, and More

In today's On the News segment: The Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated the New Year by reoccupying Zuccotti Park late Saturday night

In today's On the News segment: The Occupy Wall Street movement celebrated the New Year by reoccupying Zuccotti Park late Saturday night, natural gas “fracking” just caused an earthquake in Ohio over the weekend, the Supreme Court of Montana blocked the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision from applying to state election laws, as many as 5,000 blackbirds fell out of the sky in a small town in Arkansas just as the calendar year turned over into 2012, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. It’s Iowa Caucus day! Despite endless debating, campaign ads, and TV punditry over the last few months – the Republican race to the White House officially begins this evening as Iowans gather to choose which Republican they’d like to see run against President Obama this year. Polls show a dead heat at the top between Mitt Romney and Ron Paul – with a surging Rick Santorum in third and a collapsing Newt Gingrich in fourth. And considering Iowans have a history of choosing oddball candidates – like Mike Huckabee in 2008 and Michele Bachmann in last year’s straw poll – it’s anyone’s guess who might come out on top in the Hawkeye state at the end of the night. One thing that is certain is that Republicans are temporarily putting a hold on their war against voters. Iowa is just one of nine states in the nation that allows for same-day voter registration, meaning people can go to the polls, register to vote, and then immediately vote all at the same time. Studies show that same-day voter registration boosts voter participation by as much as 7%. Also – Iowa will not be checking any voter photo IDs as so many other right-wing states are now demanding. So whoever does come out on top – will be there thanks to the voice of the people. That is unless the Republican Party – using the excuse of a threat of an Anonymous hack attack – sabotages the caucus to prevent Ron Paul from winning. Or – if the Occupy Iowa Caucus movement is successful in catapulting “uncommitted” to the top of the Republican field for the win. Either way – it should be an interesting night – stay tuned.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement celebrated the New Year by re-occupying Zuccotti Park late Saturday night. And the NYPD celebrated the New Year by arresting and pepper spraying occupiers. Roughly 500 patriots gathered in Zuccotti Park on New Years – in an effort to re-take the space, but police moved in to break up the occupation, after several demonstrators began dismantling the metal barricades surrounding Zuccotti. In all – 68 were arrested. Here’s to another year of patriotic activism on behalf of the 99% against the 1% on Wall Street and in Washington, DC who are driving this nation to the brink of collapse.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Natural gas “fracking” just caused an earthquake in Ohio over the weekend. A 4.0 quake rattled northeast Ohio on Saturday. It was the 11th earthquake in the same area – which just so happens to be near an oil injection – or fracking site – in Youngstown. Officials believe that shooting thousands of gallons of wastewater into the ground alongside a fault line is responsible for causing the earth to shift – and a seismologist with the Ohio Seismic Network warned that more quakes are possible until fracking near the fault line stops and pressure is eased. Four injection wells – along with the one in Youngstown – are now inactive while further investigations are launched into the cause of the earthquake. Despite oil and natural gas drilling companies running television commercials trying to convince us that “fracking” is safe and environmentally-friendly – this weekends events prove they’re just lying.

The Supreme Court of Montana bucked the highest court in the land on Friday – blocking the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision from applying to state election laws in Montana. That means as far as elections go in Montana – corporations are not people and money is not speech. By arguing that Citizens United only applies to federal elections, the Montana Supreme Court restored a 100-year old election law that prevents direct spending by corporations in state elections. The judges argued that corporate election spending, “represents a threat to the 'political marketplace.”' Let’s push other states into the same decision – go to

In news you probably won’t hear on GOP TV – there were two arson attacks in New York City against Muslims and Hindus. On Sunday night – security cameras caught an unidentified man drive up to a Hindu house of worship and hurl a Molotov cocktail at the building. The night before – two Molotov cocktails were thrown at an Islamic Center in Queens as 80 people were gathered inside for dinner. Luckily – there were no injuries in either attack – and only minimal damage done to the buildings. Police are investigating the attacks as as “bias crimes.”

Maybe the Mayans were right – suggesting the world is going to end in 2012. As many as 5,000 blackbirds fell out of the sky in a small town in Arkansas just as the calendar year turned over into 2012. It was the middle of the night when thousands of dead birds began raining down. And here’s the strangest part: this is the second year in a row that the same town has witnessed thousands of birds plummet from the sky on New Years eve. Last year – officials believed fireworks or a hailstorm may have caused the bizarre deaths, but that was debunked this weekend – as officials outlawed the use of fireworks to prevent exactly this same thing and the weather was calm. Then again – it could also have something to do with the pigeons discovering the blackbirds are spies from a different planet.

Crazy Alert! Illegal tender. A North Carolina man was arrested last week after he tried to pay for $476 worth of items at a local Wal Mart with his very own one million-dollar bill. 53-year-old Michael Fuller desperately tried to convince the cashier his one million dollar bill was indeed real legal tender as he tried to buy a new vacuum cleaner – a microwave and several other items. After some back and forth, the cashier called the police – who charged Fuller with trying to obtain property under false pretenses and using a forged instrument. Fuller was sent to jail on a $17,500 bond. Luckily – he always keeps a $20,000 bill in his pocket for rainy days like this.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.

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