On the News With Thom Hartmann: Move Over Greece – Italy Is the New, Biggest Thorn in the Euro Zone

In today's On the News segment: The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling yesterday banning foreign nationals from meddling in our elections; White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is out – after less than a year on the job; move over Greece – Italy is the new, biggest thorn in the euro zone; this week, the nation will mark the tenth anniversary of our so-called terrorist prison in Guantanamo Bay; proponents of Internet censorship and The Stop Online Piracy Act – also known as SOPA – got hit with a setback yesterday; and more …

I'm Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. It’s primary day in New Hampshire – and the votes are already being counted. Two New Hampshire communities – Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location – have a tradition of casting ballots at midnight – and out of 22 votes cast – Mitt Romney has a very, very early lead with 7 votes – Ron Paul has 5 – and Jon Huntsman has 4. Romney is expected to win big in New Hampshire – or at least he was before he inexplicably went on a tirade yesterday about how he loves to fire people. Jon Huntsman – who has staked his whole campaign on New Hampshire – said that after making those comments about firing people, Romney is, “completely unelectable.” We’ll see if that’s the case tonight.

The Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling yesterday banning foreign nationals from meddling in our elections. Two foreign nationals challenged the existing ban on direct contributions – arguing that it violates their First Amendment rights that they’re guaranteed to as they live and work in the United States. But the Supreme Court disagreed. However – thanks to Citizens United – foreign nationals can influence all the elections they want in America – they just have to launder their money through a corporate front group or a SuperPAC.

In the best of the rest of the news…

White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley is out – after less than a year on the job. Yesterday – President Obama announced that Daley – a former senior executive at JP Morgan Chase is stepping down as Chief of Staff – and will be replaced by Jacob Lew who was leading up the Office of Management of Budget. Lew also has ties to Wall Street – he was formerly employed by mega bank Citigroup. According to speculation in Washington – Lew was chosen because of his close ties to Capitol Hill and ability to work with Republicans. Good luck with that.

Move over Greece – Italy is the new biggest thorn in the Eurozone. According to credit rating agency Fitch – Italy now poses the greatest threat to financial stability of Europe. Noting that Italy’s economy –which is the third largest in Europe – is too big to bailout – the head of Fitch’s sovereign ratings – David Riley said, “the future of the euro will be decided at the gates of Rome.” Italy is among several nations – including Spain, Belgium, Ireland, and Slovenia that have been put on “negative watch” by Fitch and could see a credit downgrade at the end of the month. The financial crisis in Europe is far from over.

This week – the nation will mark the 10th anniversary of our so-called terrorist prison in Guantanamo Bay. The facility has been a black eye for the United States since it opened – indefinitely detaining suspected terrorists without trial and with little evidence. President Obama campaigned on closing Gitmo – but has been unable to do so in his three years in office thanks to massive resistance on Capitol Hill. But according to Press Secretary John Carney – closing Gitmo still remains one of President Obama’s top priorities. Let’s hope it happens soon.

Proponents of Internet censorship and The Stop Online Piracy Act – also known as SOPA – got hit with a setback yesterday. One of the most Conservative Members of Congress – Paul Ryan – came out in opposition of the legislation. In a statement released by his office – Ryan said, “The Internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way.” SOPA has broad support among other Republicans – and is being lobbied for heavily by media corporations – as it allows the federal government and copyright holders to shut down websites that may be streaming copyrighted music or video – which actually represents a large portion of the Internet. Further debate on SOPA is expected to continue when Congress returns to session later this month – and a vote is expected soon too. Keep an eye on this one.

Do you want to go to college in the future? Then you should probably win the lottery. Looking at the trends of college tuition around the country – The Daily has a new analysis out showing that the average price of tuition at a 4-year private school in 2034 will be a whopping $288,000. A four-year public school education will also leave a hefty dent in your wallet – costing $123,000 dollars in the next 20 years. That wouldn’t be so bad if American families were keeping up with inflating education prices – but sadly they’re not. In fact – incomes of families with at least one child under 18 – have only increased by 1% since 1987. As a result today – student loan debt will soon top one trillion dollars for the first time – now outpacing total credit card debt in America. Republicans in Congress meanwhile are pushing for more cuts to the Federal Pell Grant program – meaning students will have even less help paying for college in the future. All while the rest of the world send young people to universities for free or drastically reduced costs. We’re falling behind the rest of the world when it comes to intellectual infrastructure.

And finally… it’s open season for road kill in Illinois. A new law taking effect allows anyone with an Illinois furbearer’s license to scoop up road kill on the side of the road for pelts or even food. The law had to be passed by the State General Assembly twice – overriding a veto by Governor Pat Quinn the second time who feared that motorists stopping on the side of the road to salvage road kill might becomes road kill themselves. Illinois joins 13 other states in the nation who have legalized collecting road kill – and Idaho is expected to be the next state to take up this issue. As one Idaho state rep who’s pushing for road kill retention rights said, “To be able not to grab [road kill] was kind of stupid. Why let it go to waste?” Rumor has it that the Tea Party Congress is pushing for a federal law to decriminalize collecting road kill. They’re calling it an alternative to food stamps.

And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, January 10th, 2012. I’m Karl Frisch in for Thom Hartmann – on the news…