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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, February 16, 2019
Trump is a Nat'l Emergency: 'BradCast' 2/15/19
Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: The fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns to SCOTUS...
Power to the People! (& Why Coal Miners Should've Voted Hillary): 'BradCast' 2/14/19
Trump Commission shuts KY, TN coal plants; Barr confirmed; Funding bill approved, fake 'Emergency' soon; Freshmen light up House; GOP Green New Deal freak-out...
'Green News Report' 2/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Repubs move quickly to demonize Green New Deal; Insects declining at alarming rate; Public lands bill passes in Senate; PLUS: Los Angeles ditches natural gas for electricity...
Previous GNRs: 2/12/19 - 2/7/19 - Archives...
Butterfly Refuge Sues to Block Wall, Break-ins by CBP Officials: 'BradCast' 2/13/19
Guest: Marianna Trevino-Wright of the Nat'l Butterfly Center; Also: Hannity allows Trump to take wall deal; FEMA Director abruptly quits...
Targeted? 1000s of Black Votes 'Missing' from GA's 2018 Lt. Guv Election Results: 'BradCast' 2/12/19
Guest: Marilyn Marks; Also: Trump's sad El Paso rally, new (even worse) 'wall' deal...
'Green News Report' 2/12/19
GNR Special Coverage: Democratic Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Markey introduce the Green New Deal. What's in it, what's not, and what happens next...
Groundhog Day All Over Again?:
'BradCast' 2/11/19
Trump Border Lies, Shutdown Talks, Virginia's Political Mess. Plus: Listener calls! Including one calling for segregation?! (Yup.)
Sunday 'Year of the Pig' Toons
PDiddie celebrates the Lunar Looney New Year in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green New Deal' Rising: 'BradCast' 2/8/19
Guest: Climate/energy reporter David Roberts of Vox on the policy and the politics; Also: Witless Whitaker's remarkable House Judiciary testimony...
'Green News Report' 2/7/19
Trump SOTU was low on facts, high on oil; Dems bring climate science back to the U.S. House; PLUS: It's official: we've just lived through the five hottest years on record...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Former Dep. Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Trump fails SOTU 'unity' vow; Inaugural Comm. slapped with federal subpoena...
By Brad Friedman on 2/5/2019 5:49pm PT  

So, a 30-year old, landmark nuclear arms agreement between the U.S. and Russia is now history. Just like that. And, beyond a few short hours of media coverage, it now seems all but forgotten. No big deal at all. Our guest on today's BradCast, however, strongly disagrees. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary.]

But first, a few quick items to kick off the show, including...

  • The Trump Administration vows that Tuesday night's State of the Union address will be a call for unity and bipartisan cooperation, before the Second Stupidest Man on the Internet (yes, Trump) attacks Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for not winning enough seats in last year's midterm elections;
  • And federal prosecutors in New York file a subpoena seeking a massive amount of documents from Trump's 2017 Inauguration Committee, looking at virtually every aspect of the record $107 million raised, whether any of it unlawfully came from foreign sources, whether anything was unlawfully offered in exchange for donations, whether even more more was unlawfully paid directly by donors to vendors (and thus, unlawfully undisclosed to the FEC), and where all of that money (legalized bribes, in fact, a disgrace for all modern Presidents) actually went. It all amounts to more seemingly criminal chaos from anything Trump touches, from his inaugural committee, to the Trump Organization (his main private company), to the Trump Foundation (his phony, self-dealing slush-fund and "charity"), to Trump University (his fraudulent scam that settled several cases for $25 million just before he took office), to the Trump Campaign (facing myriad criminal probes and several convictions, guilty pleas and indictments), to the Trump Administration and everyone involved in it --- all being investigated by multiple state and federal probes at this point, at the very same time.

Then, we're joined by former Deputy Assistant Sec. of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs under President Obama, MICHAEL FUCHS, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, to discuss the Trump Administration's announced withdrawal over the weekend from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement struck between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. The historic pact had been the first to ban an entire class of nuclear weapons, ground-launched cruise missiles with a range between 310 and 3,400 miles.

With the Administration charging that Russia was in violation of the accord (which Fuchs confirms), Trump simply announced the U.S. pull-out, which was answered almost immediately by Russian President Vladimir Putin's own declaration in response that his country would now do the same. In the bargain, Fuchs explains, the U.S. has lost its ability under the agreement to inspect hundreds of nuclear missile sites and other weapons facilities.

What did we gain in return? Well, pretty much nothing, says Fuchs, who calls this "a very big deal", joining me in astonishment that coverage of this historic move to end such an important anti-nuclear proliferation treaty has all but disappeared from the corporate media within hours amidst continuing Trump-induced chaos. "In the age of Trump, nuclear weapons, climate change, things that could potentially end life on earth as we know it only merit fifteen minutes in the news cycle," Fuchs notes.

He goes on to detail what has been lost with the dissolution of "perhaps one of the biggest agreements ever reached as far as reducing the potential threat of nuclear weapons destroying us" and whether Trump's claims that this is all necessary to stand up against a supposedly growing military menace from China is actually true. We also discuss the real reasons that this "gift to Vladimir Putin" seems to have come about, how Trump's dangerous National Security Advisor John Bolton appears to oppose any and all international accords that tie the hands of the U.S. in any way, shape or form, and whether Trump's planned second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un can possibly bear any realistic denuclearization fruit --- particularly on the heels of Trump again sending the message to the world that treaties between the U.S. and other nations are meant to be broken at the whim of an angry, brain-addled, and clueless President of the United States.

"The major problem here with throwing out this treaty is that, it is equivalent to basically throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Fuchs tells me. "Right now Russia is violating this treaty in a specific way, but a lot of the benefits of the treaty are still intact. Which includes the ability of the United States to actually conduct inspections and do verification of a number of different aspects of Russia's compliance with the treaty. By taking ourselves out of treaty, we are taking away our ability to inspect the other things that the Russians are doing here. And not only does that allow Russia to potentially start violating it even more, posing more danger to the United States, but it's giving a giant gift to Vladimir Putin."

Finally, Desi Doyen returns to "cheer us all up" with the latest Green News Report on hellish global warming-related nightmares from Australia to the U.S. to Antarctica; the oil lobbyist now nominated to be the next Interior Secretary; and the Administration's imminent plans to bulldoze the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to make way for a new border wall on the banks of the Rio Grande in Texas...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Meteorologist Guy Walton on the polar vortex and the 'sinking fossil-fuel Titanic'; Also: Trump's own intel chiefs say he's wrong...about pretty much everything; And a new, game-changing e-cig study...
By Brad Friedman on 1/30/2019 6:42pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Baby, it's COLD outside in much of the Midwest and Northeast. Record cold, in fact, with wind chills dipping near an unfathomable 60 degrees below zero in some parts of the country, as discussed with --- and explained by --- our guest today. [Audio link to full show posted below.]

But, first up: Donald Trump's own top intelligence chiefs --- the FBI and CIA Directors as well as his Director of National Intelligence and others --- all directly contradicted the Commander-in-Chief on matters of foreign affairs this week, from the nuclear threat posed by North Korea, to the continuing threat from ISIS in Syria and Iraq, to the cybersecurity threat to elections posted by China and Russia, and to the lack of nuclear threat from Iran or at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Testifying before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, the intel heads --- appointed by Trump himself (not so-called "Deep State Obama Democrats") --- expanded on their newly published annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" [PDF]. As it turns out, neither the new report nor the officials themselves cite border concerns as any sort of danger to the nation, despite Trump's persistent and unsupported claims to the contrary and his threat to declare a "National Emergency" if he's not given $5.7 billion for his southern border wall before the Continuing Resolution for government funding runs out, once again, on February 15. Today, in response, Trump mocked his own intel staff as "naive".

The testimony from Trump's own intel chiefs is likely to be used against the President in court, should he declare that "emergency", according to U.S. House Intel Committee chair Adam Schiff (D-CA). But, as Democratic Committee member Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), points out, House Republicans have yet to actually appoint their members to either that Committee or three others (on Climate Change, Ethics or House Administration, which handles election challenges, such as the one in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, where the House seat is still empty due to a GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal.) Those committees may not proceed with virtually any business until House Republicans appoint their members and end the purposeful slow-walking.

After that warm up, it's on to the sub-freezing temps that have kept even the U.S. Post Office from completing their appointed rounds in a number of states. Of course, the big chill has led the Fox "News" clowns and climate change Denier-in-Chief to have a grand old time avoiding the actual scientific explanation for the bone-numbing depression in the Polar Vortex which, yes, is tied to global warming.

We're joined today by "Climate Guy" GUY WALTON, a 30-year Weather Channel veteran meteorologist, for some actual science on what's going on. Walton pens a daily "Extreme Temperature Diary" and is co-author, with Nick Walker, of the new (joyfully snarky) children's book and climate primer World of Thermo: Thermometer Rising.

Walton explains why and how global weather patterns have changed in recent years to bring bitter cold snaps like the one experienced this week in parts of the U.S., even as the rest of the globe --- like Australia, where temps have neared 120 degrees Fahrenheit and touched off record bush fires in recent days --- continues to suffer from record heat, thanks to anthropomorphic Global Warming. This "Age of Weather Extremes" is precisely in line with what climate scientists have long predicted.

"Right now, as far as global warming goes, we're having a lot of warmth from the sub-tropics moving northward over the polar areas, where, prior to, say, the 1970s, we hadn't been seeing that as much," he tells me. "What we had in the past, when we had Arctic outbreaks in the 70s and 80s, we had a larger, colder Polar Vortex encompassing the Northern Hemisphere. Now we have a warmer Polar Vortex which is not quite as large, and it's having a tendency to pinch off pieces...when they do pinch off, they're quite cold, and you can get cold air, colder than what you have right now at the North Pole, sitting right over say, Chicago or Detroit."

As to Trump's recent tweet making light of "Global Waming [sic]" amidst the Arctic blast, Walton argues: "A lot of this is out of greed, and to perhaps make more money through the fossil fuel industry. And to some extent, it's just denial, in that they know deep down the Titanic is sinking, they're just not wanting to admit that the ship's going to go under the water, so to speak."

Finally, some encouraging news today from the world of science, which we could have told you about (and, in fact, did!) years ago. A new "seminal study" finds that e-cigs or vaping is more than twice as likely to lead smokers to kick the habit than the use of Big Pharma-approved nicotine delivery systems such as patches and gums. While that may be bad news for Big Pharma's billion dollar nicotine industry, it's good news for the world which sees more than 6 million die annually thanks to tobacco, including nearly half a million alone here in the U.S. Now, if someone would just inform the Democrats in Congress and around the U.S. who are working to make it harder, not easier, for people to quit smoking and dying by moving to vaping, it would be VERY much appreciated...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Also: Callers ring in on Trump's shutdown cave, and what happens next...
By Brad Friedman on 1/28/2019 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: how Florida Republicans are brazenly stripping elected Democratic election officials of power (their jobs, in fact!) in advance of the 2020 election, and callers ring in on Donald Trump's shutdown capitulation and what happens next. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Florida's new Secretary of State Mike Ertel, appointed at the end of last year by the state's new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, was forced to resign late last week after photos of him dressed in blackface at a 2005 Halloween party, making fun of Hurricane Katrina disaster victims in New Orleans, were surfaced by a Florida newspaper.

But, far more troubling is that two elected county Supervisors of Elections have now been suspended and forced out of their job in the two most Democratic areas of the state. Former Governor Rick Scott pushed out Broward County's Brenda Snipes last year, after the midterm elections. And a week or so ago, the new Governor DeSantis subsequently suspended longtime Palm Beach County Supervisor Susan Bucher. Both suspensions used false pretexts.

Scott falsely claimed that Snipes added fraudulent ballots to the totals last November. DeSantis claimed that Bucher's failure to deliver results on time from last year's unprecedented four statewide "recounts" (including ones that Scott won for the U.S. Senate and DeSantis won for Governor) justified the removal of the popular --- and elected! --- Supervisor Bucher. [DeSantis and Scott are pictured above with Trump.] While Snipes has had a number of failures as Broward's elections chief over the years, Bucher is one of the most dedicated and knowledgeable election officials in the nation.

As we reported before Florida's ridiculously short deadline for machine "recounted" elections last year, the older tabulation system still used in Palm Beach was simply, and physically, incapable of re-tallying ballots from four different statewide races in the 5 days or so allotted by state law. Bucher's removal, as described on today's program in detail, is nothing short of an outrageous GOP power-grab.

As the Palm Beach Post editorial board described in a scathing editorial, the removal of Bucher "plunged a dagger into the election process". They argue it "smacks of overreach and an abuse of power". Bucher, the board accurately notes, is "highly respected by her peers," has been "a hard-working public servant," before concluding: "[S]he has never shown anything but dedication and integrity to the voters of this county. She doesn't deserve this blatantly partisan bum's rush from a fledgling governor."

But, it's not just a Florida outrage. It should be a national one, given that two Republican lackeys have now been installed by Republican Governors to oversee elections in the two most Democratic-leaning areas of the closely divided Sunshine State in advance of the 2020 Presidential election. And, in both cases, they were removing officials who were (small-"d") democratically elected by their constituents!

Also today...

  • The billions lost to the U.S. economy, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, thanks to Trump's shutdown;
  • How federal contract workers are currently screwed without promises for back-pay, unlike furloughed federal employees;
  • The population of monarch butterflies has absolutely plummetted in California (and elsewhere). Not a good sign.
  • And callers ring in on why they believe Trump finally decided to fold on the shutdown on Friday --- at least for three weeks, until it may happen again, or he decides to declare a fake "national emergency" to justify stealing billions of tax-payer dollars allocated to military spending in order to build his unnecessary and unwanted southern border wall...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why Donald Trump finally buckled in his demand for border wall funding and how the unprecedented government shutdown helped distract all of us from the Administration's new policy that endangers children by officially allowing blatant religious discrimination --- at least against religions other than Protestant. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, Trump caved. He finally agreed to reopen the federal government --- at least temporarily --- after five weeks and the longest shutdown in U.S. history. He pretended he'd made a "deal" with Democrats. In fact, he simply agreed to continue funding the government at its previous levels until February 15. He received zero dollars for his border wall in the bargain, while suggesting during bizarre, inaccurate and, at times, graphic remarks at the White House that, without some sort of "deal" for a wall, he would either shut the government down again in three weeks or declare a "national emergency" to take the money to build it from elsewhere.

There were many reasons Trump finally buckled today, including increasing anger from lawmakers in his own party, plummeting poll numbers, news that the IRS was in "panic mode" without enough workers as tax season begins, and flight delays up and down the Eastern Seaboard thanks to a shortage of Air Traffic Controllers, according to the FAA. But there were at least two stories that the Administration, no doubt, was eager to get off the front pages today and over the weekend.

One, a stunning report from NBC News Thursday night that Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner had been rejected for top secret clearance in 2017, for a host of reasons, by two career security professionals at the White House, only to have that security recommendation overruled (along with similar rejections for "at least 30" others!) and granted to him by a Trump appointee. Also, Trump's longtime supporter and dirty trickster Roger Stone --- who helped lead the "lock her up!" charge against Hillary Clinton with the release of hacked emails by WikiLeaks --- was arrested in Florida on Friday morning by FBI officials and charged with seven counts of lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstruction of justice by a grand jury convened as part of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe. Following the GOP's fake "outrage" about national security concerns related to Clinton's private email server, which Stone helped amplify, there's no small amount of irony here with his arrest on the heels of news that the Trump Administration appears to have forgone top level security concerns altogether in order to allow Kushner and others access to the nation's most closely guarded intelligence materials.

Trump's "deal" to temporarily reopen the government may have served to change the news cycle for a few hours, but it didn't endear him to Republican extremists like Ann Coulter, whose critiques late last year led Trump to break his agreement with lawmakers and demand $5.7 billion for a southern border wall resulting in the five week shutdown. Today she deried him as "the biggest wimp ever to serve as President."

While all of these nightmares have been unfolding in recent weeks, few noticed that the Trump Administration's Health and Human Services Department quietly approved a very controversial waiver to allow a Protestant South Carolina group called Miracle Hill Ministries to discriminate against Muslims, Jews, Catholics and atheists in the placement of foster care children. We're joined by criminal justice reporter AKELA LACY of The Intercept today to explain this very real and disturbing outrage which very few have noticed, and how the Administration's partnership with "Religious Right" Republicans under the guise of "religious freedom" is now officially sanctioning religious discrimination in the U.S.

"South Carolina is saying that the foster care statute in HHS rules and regulations does not specify religion as a characteristic on which they are not allowed to discriminate. They say that the foster care program statute says that agencies that receive federal funding can't deny parents based on race, color or national origin, but that because that statute does not specify religion, the request that Miracle Hill accept these families is outside of the law," Lacy tells me, noting that state law in South Carolina bars this sort of discrimination, as do federal non-discrimination laws that the Administration appears to be ignoring.

"The other really scary part of this," she notes, "is that, aside from these individual waivers, eighty Republican lawmakers signed a letter to the President in May asking for even further repeal of these federal protections against discrimination. So this is not just something that is being advocated for on a state-by-state basis. This is a quiet effort from the right to change these rules in the interests of mostly Christian organizations."

Describing a similar waiver request from Texas --- which also seeks to allow discrimination against LGBTQ families as well --- she says (real) advocates of religious freedoms and civil liberties fear the South Carolina precedent is likely now to spread to other states, other federal agencies, and other matters that reach well beyond foster care while much of the media continue to be distracted with the ongoing Trump chaos...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/22/2019 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tragedy in Mexico as leaking pipeline explodes; Trump's government shutdown threatens to make U.S. wildfires even worse; Federal judge halts permits for seismic testing during shutdown; Coal ash waste contaminating groundwater in at least 22 states; PLUS: Australia's historic heat wave is melting roads and decimating wildlife... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Greenland's ice melt nears 'tipping point'; U.S. military report warns climate change threatens key bases; Warm pole, cold continent: Polar Vortex settles on Eastern North America; 3 years later, no one is in jail over Flint tainted water; Critics slam WOTUS economics: 'In theory, pigs could fly'; Scientists warn of climate 'time bomb' for world's groundwater; Labor promises to 'supercharge' hydrogen industry as green groups say 'no role for coal'; Judge says uninsulated power conductors caused California fires... PLUS: The Trump Shutdown is an environmental crisis... and much, MUCH more! ...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Guest: Ricky Garza of Texas Civil Rights Project on Trump's Rio Grande land grab; Also: Historic shutdown fallout across the nation, and an impossible (but real!) 60-year old warning about 'Trump' and his 'wall'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/11/2019 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump's federal government shutdown is the now the longest in U.S. history and landowners in Texas are fighting to keep the federal government from stealing their land even before Trump shakes down the U.S. Treasury somehow for $5.7. Also, we might have avoided all of these messes had we only paid attention to a remarkably prescient warning from a 1958 episode of an obscure television show on CBS. [Audio link to show follows below.]

On Friday, some 800,000 furloughed federal workers missed their paychecks, after hundreds of them protested the shutdown, lockout, "shakedown" outside the White House as they are having trouble paying rents, mortgages and for food and medical needs. Nonetheless, Trump continues to threaten a "national emergency" declaration to force the funding of his long-promised southern border wall with money the Administration is considering taking from U.S. military disaster relief funding earmarked for hurricane and fire-ravaged states like Florida, Texas, California and dozens of others.

House Democrats (and a handful of Republicans) continue to vote to reopen the government --- or, at least, some of its various agencies which have nothing to do with immigration or a wall --- while Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to allow a vote on same in the upper chamber, even for identical bills to the those passed virtually unanimously there last year. Airports are being forced to enact closures for lack of TSA personnel, the nation's foods supply is going untested by the FDA for contamination, FBI agents are sending letters to the White House and Congress describing the furlough of thousands of special agents as a national security threat, and federally subsidized HUD housing for the elderly and poor is being forced to do without.

Meanwhile, down in Texas, in the Rio Grande Valley, even before Trump receives the $5.7 billion he is demanding for hundreds of miles of new border wall/fencing, property owners are receiving letters from the federal government to begin the process of eminent domain. Families who have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for generations are being threatened with having their homes taken away to pave the way for the construction of Trump's wall. Even an historic, 150-year old Catholic mission chapel on the banks of the river --- and on the city seal of Mission, TX --- finds itself in a legal battle with the federal government to remain in place.

We're joined today by RICKY GARZA, Rio Grande Valley native and staff attorney for the non-profit Texas Civil Rights Project. As Trump came to the area for another photo-op on Thursday, Garza is working to help hundreds of local property owners in the valley understand their legal rights to fend off a government takeover of their land and homes.

Garza scoffs at the President's claims of "crisis" conditions in what he describes as a "diverse region of over a million people that lives and dies by the water that comes from the river," but which may soon be cut off from it entirely. "The only crisis that exists now is artificially created by this administration," he tells me. "The only time I heard any talk about a crisis along the border was when I turned on cable news."

"Polling consistently shows that an overwhelming majority of people that actually live and work on the border oppose the border wall, and oppose the militarization of our communities," he says.

"What we're seeing on the ground is that people are having their lives interrupted by this intrusion into the borderlands by the federal government and border militarization. We've seen a decrease in apprehensions along the border, yet an increase in Border Patrol hiring, staffing and construction of things like the border wall, erections of things like security towers along the areas close to the river, and aerostat blimps that were formerly used in Iraq now deployed in some neighborhoods to surveil the border, and implicitly, all of us," Garza laments. "It's just another sad example of the federal government failing to understand the realities of life on the border, and what it's really like for us, just trying to live our lives in peace."

Finally today, a few minutes from a gob-smacking episode of the 1958 CBS Television series called Trackdown in which --- and this is for real --- a colorful con-man named "Trump" (seriously!) comes to town and tries to tell its gullible, terrified residents that only he can save them...by selling them on a "wall" to protect them from total destruction!!!...

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Guest: Food and ag correspondent Tom Philpott; Also: 'National emergency' likely as polls plummet for President, Senate Repubs...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2019 6:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast, while Donald Trump threatens to declare a "national emergency" to build his southern border all, his federal government shutdown may lead to a real emergency on everything from the nation's food supply to air travel to defense against weapons of mass destruction and cybersecurity threats. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, as Donald Trump's federal government shutdown continues over his insistence that tax-payers spend $5.7 billion to begin construction of his wall, we take a quick look back at some of his 2013 comments on who should be blamed for government shutdowns, back when he charged that Presidents, not opposition parties in Congress, should be held responsible. But what he had to say about walls way back in 2004 is even more amusing and/or ironic.

Meanwhile, Trump hoped to blame Democrats for the shutdown today, while claiming it needed to continue for the "safety of our Nation". But the safety of the nation, including its food supply, is now endangered by the three week shutdown of all FDA food inspections (along with furloughs of thousands of agents at the Federal Aviation Administration, Secret Service, FBI, DHS' cybersecurity agencies and even its Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction Office.)

We're joined today by food and agriculture correspondent TOM PHILPOTT of Mother Jones' to discuss the safety (or lack thereof) of the nation's imperiled food supply as the shutdown is now days away from becoming the longest in U.S. history. The FDA's lack of all food inspections comes on the heels of the CDC's declaration this week that the second of two deadly E. coli outbreaks in romaine lettuce last year is finally over.

"We should be pretty concerned, especially as this drags on and on," Philpott warns. "Any kind of product that we take for granted, mundane products that aren't regularly in the news for causing outbreaks, can cause outbreaks when companies lapse and the regulatory process fails. This is an engineered failure of the regulatory process. It's just a very, very stupid idea."

"Who knows how long this thing is going to go on?," he says. "Which, if it does, the food safety situation is going to get gnarly."

Philpott's concerns reach beyond the current situation, however, as he explains how the Trump Administration's de-regulatory agenda has already undercut the safety of our nation's food supply. Also, he reports on how the shutdown (and trade war) is negatively effecting farmers (many of whom comprise Trump's base) and craft beer makers (small business owners), along with women, infants, children and others in poverty who rely on government programs for nutrition assistance.

While Trump said today that if Democrats don't agree to his demand for billions in border wall funding he will "definitely" declare a national emergency in order to force the construction of his wall, even folks on the Right --- for example on his favorite Fox 'News' show --- argue that such a Presidential declaration would set a very bad precedent.

But, with Americans increasingly blaming Trump for the shutdown by double-digits, and sharing that blame with GOP Senators up for reelection next year, the toughest sting for our Reality-TV President may be that more Americans tuned in to watch Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer's response to Trump's prime-time Oval Office address on Tuesday, than the number of those who watched the speech itself. So much for his "winning" television ratings.

Finally, with good news/bad news for Joshua Tree National Park amid the shutdown, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Fiat-Chrysler agrees to pay a huge fine to the EPA for using secret software to cheat on emissions testing, as Trump threatens to cut off FEMA wildfire disaster relief to California, and as Democrats continue to push back and push ahead on climate crisis action...

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Federal closures having real effects (but not on Trump's business); RBG absent at SCOTUS; High Court rejects Exxon; AOC floats tax increase, GOP freaks out; Callers ring in on Democratic majority priorities...
By Brad Friedman on 1/7/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Desi and I are back after the holidays --- and to end the shutdown! You're welcome! There's a LOT of news to catch up on as Democrats officially settle in to their new U.S. House majority with the federal government remaining partially closed thanks to Donald Trump's new demand for $5 billion in tax-payer money (not Mexico's) to fund his southern border wall. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The federal shutdown is beginning to cause very real and negative effects across the country, particularly at our national parks and monuments and, if it goes on much longer, in food assistance to the poor. Oddly enough, National Park Service rangers are still deployed to one historic site in D.C. --- the one that happens to be inside the Old Post Office building....which is now the Trump International Hotel.

Meanwhile, Trump has announced plans for a prime-time speech to the nation on Tuesday night to address his pretend "National Security crisis on our Southern Border" and is requesting airtime for it from the national TV networks. However, while Trump is standing firm on his demand for some $5 billion to fund his border wall, (and Dems are standing equally firm in not giving it to him), his very own proposed budget plan for 2019 [PDF], as given to Congress last year, requested just $1.6 billion for the wall. (Seriously, open on the PDF and click on the section for the Dept. of Homeland Security, where it details the Admin's 2019 request: "Critical investments include $1.6 billion for construction of the border wall.") That's almost exactly what the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted to give him last year, which Trump agreed to...before criticism from Righwing media led him to increase his demand two weeks ago.

So, it's left to me, I guess, to explain how Democrats should give Trump exactly what he asked for in that proposal last year --- as written by Office of Management and Budget chief and now Trump's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney --- in order to solve the very real shutdown crisis.

Also, among the many other stories covered on today's show:

  • For the first time in her career as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, recuperating from cancer surgery, was not present for oral argument at SCOTUS on Monday.
  • In better SCOTUS news, the Court rejected ExxonMobil's plea to save them from an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General into the oil giant's decades of apparent fraud regarding climate change.
  • Over the weekend, newly-minted progressive Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for restoring the 70 percent income tax rate for the lucky few earning more than $10 million a year, in order to help fund a 'Green New Deal' to save the planet. Republicans, predictably, are both freaking out and lying about her proposal.

And, finally, we open up the phone lines to callers on all of the above and much more, including what listeners hope to see Democrats take on as their top priorities in the new Congress...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro with the latest shutdown news, HR-1, border update; Also: More with health care futurist Joe Flower...
By Angie Coiro on 1/4/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm with you one more time, then Brad and Desi are back! I'm visiting from In Deep with Angie Coiro, sharing the airwaves and streams with the BradCast.

A troop of Dems led by Nancy Pelosi made a promising presentation on HR-1. Right now the sweeping proposal to reform elections, campaign funding and oversight is nothing but a proposal. Republicans will certainly work against many of its provisions, including its voting rights measures efforts to stem the flow of politicians to lobbying corps. Even so, some of the rhetoric today from the likes of Elijah Cummings and John Lewis was genuinely moving and full of real passion. I've brought you long chunks of it.

Likewise, Sen. Chuck Schumer spoke frankly and with few punches pulled addressing the shutdown, which is cruising into Day 15.

I spend a lot of well-deserved time today on this essay by Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Now that Trump is throwing around not-so-veiled threats about declaring a national emergency and his willingness to keep the shutdown in effect for "years", it's good to know exactly what he can get away with. Hint: a lot.

To wrap up the week: Part Two of my conversation with health care futurist JOE FLOWER. You're welcome!

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Guest-host Angie Coiro on the first day of Congress' new session; Also: Hannah Ehrlich on diversity in Kids' Lit; Joe Flower on health care...
By Angie Coiro on 1/3/2019 5:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Des as their holiday continues. Today, tomorrow, then they're back! Thanks for giving me your ears in their absence.

No big surprises as the new Congress moves in - not in either house. New Speaker Nancy Pelosi said all the right things - about bipartisanship, diversity, women, the border, health care, standing strong. Nice, listenable, good applause lines, and she seemed genuinely welcoming and warm to the kids she brought up to the podium to celebrate. Sorry for the cliché, but of course only time will tell if she can get anywhere with the House divided.

With those kids in mind (what dreams do they have? Will we see any of them come back to the floor as leaders?) I check in with HANNAH EHRLICH of Lee and Low publishing house. Earlier this year she wrote this thoughtful piece on the PBS Great American Read poll. We talk about whether the diversity we're increasingly seeing in Congress is reflected in the books our kids are exposed to.

Finally: Speaker Pelosi tipped her hat to health care, but we're a long, long way from the ideal: affordable care for everyone. Health care futurist JOE FLOWER has some solid advice on navigating the system we have now. Hold off on that colonoscopy or mammogram before you listen in.

My whole hour with Joe is on my own show's website. It's a worthwhile one-hour listen.

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Guest-host Angie Coiro on the shutdown, the wall, Election 2020, and the legacy of Harry Reid --- with help from Dave Johnson and Sarah Kendzior...
By Angie Coiro on 1/2/2019 7:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Desi; they're on a well-deserved break til next week; I'm on my own holiday hiatus from In Deep with Angie Coiro, so doesn't that work out nicely?

It's early days in D.C., where Reps and Sens are shuffling back into their offices preparing for various swearings-in. Incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- retaking the leadership gavel Thursday --- is wasting absolutely no time letting Donald Trump know she plans to lead, not follow. He's wiped Mike Pence's offer to drop the border fund demand by some three billion bucks; Donny's back to demanding $5 billion, dismissing "someone" (um, Pence) who floated that lower figure. In both an appearance on the Today show and outside the White House following a border security meeting with Trump, Pelosi made it clear that taking the federal budget hostage cuts no ice --- he's getting no money for a wall.

Meanwhile, Apple is the latest company singed by Trump's tariffs. The company revised (lowered) its quarterly earnings estimate by 7.6%. Once that news went public, its stock dropped by nearly the same percentage. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it's not entirely a matter of the Trump/China trade war, but that was no small factor.

DAVE JOHNSON joins me to talk about how the 2020 presidential race is shaping up, starting with the news that Elizabeth Warren has officially gotten serious about running. Then, the tension between the Sanders and O'Rourke camps, and Beto's less-than-stellar track record with fossil fuel legislation. Has he just changed his tune because the record's gone public, or has he truly shifted his priorities?

By the way, Dave's a partner in the launch of what could be a very important site: We Can Have Nice Things, explaining modern economic theory in plain language, including how infrastructure and citizens' health and welfare get paid for in sane economic systems.

The New York Times Magazine has published Mark Leibovitch's profile of Harry Reid, who, as it turns out, is expecting to die soon. SARAH KENDZIOR says something critical is missing from that article: how Reid tried to get Comey to take Trump's Russian connections seriously, and how he pushed the media to pay attention to Trump's corruption --- both for naught.

Sarah's podcast, Gaslit Nation, has just moved from monthly to weekly production.

Finally, a few minutes deflecting attention from Mitt Romney's self-serving yabber in his anti-Trump op-ed to Lamar Alexander's much more productive, thoughtful exercise in how a willing Congress and a sane, savvy president can triumph over impasse together. Feels more like a fairy tale than a possibility in today's circumstances, but still - it's a worthy read.

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Mattis quits! Troops out of Syria! Whitaker's reversal! Government shut-down?! Food stamps cut! NK nuke deal collapse?!; Also: Dems announce 2020 Primary debate plan; NC-9 GOP election fraud since at least 2016...
By Brad Friedman on 12/20/2018 6:28pm PT  

Every great Reality TV show needs a dramatic and gripping season finale. So too, apparently, does does every horrible Reality TV Presidency! [Audio link is posted below]

Today is our last new BradCast before Christmas (Angie Coiro will be filling in for us, along with a few "evergreens" over the next week or two), but, as has become clear today, Trump! The Presidency! has certainly delivered in the shocking and suspenseful season finale department! Including...

TWISTS AND TURNS! Acting AG Matthew Whitaker did not, as misreported earlier today, get approval from a DoJ ethics review to oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. In fact, the ethics review determined he should recuse himself. But, apparently, he plans to ignore that finding;

SURPRISES! Trump defies his military advisers, not to mention stuns and infuriates members of Congress on both sides of the aisle along with experts in the region, by declaring "victory" on Twitter over ISIS and that he plans to now pull U.S. troops out of Syria! But when? Nobody seems to know. Is Afghanistan next? (Apparently so!);

MAIN CHARACTERS 'KILLED OFF'! Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis, the last of Trump's "My Generals", and none too happy about the Syria decision, submits his surprise resignation, charging the President is anything but "clear-eyed" about the need for U.S. alliances and the threats faced from its adversaries;

SUSPENSE! Will Trump shut down the federal government over Christmas? Last week he said he would. Earlier this week he indicated he wouldn't. But, today, it looks like he will! And all over $5 billion in funding for a southern border wall (now "steel slats") he promised that Mexico, not tax-payers, would be paying for;

CHRISTMAS VILLAINY! Trump's USDA, in defiance of Congress's newly passed farm bill, announces they will now make it more difficult for the poor to receive food stamps. That'll show 'em!;

NUCLEAR CLIFF-HANGER! North Korea bluntly declares that "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula" actually means what it sounds like, and what those of us in the reality-based world (as opposed to the Reality TV world) already knew. They will not denuclearize unless the U.S. removes its own troops and nuclear weapons at the same time. Will Trump return to his threats for "fire and fury like the world has never seen"?! Stay tuned for the thrilling 2019 season!

Also today: The DNC announces its planned schedule for a dozen 2020 Presidential primary debates beginning in 2019, even though we're not yet even done with the 2018 election around here yet!

As we await the scheduled January 11th evidentiary hearing over the GOP's 2018 Absentee Ballot Election Fraud Scandal that has prevented Republican Mark Harris' 905-vote U.S. House "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready from being certified in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, the state Board of Election's stunning 279-page 2016 investigative report [PDF] on apparent absentee ballot fraud by McCrae Dowless, the same GOP contractor hired in 2018 by Harris, is released. And it includes some jaw-dropping evidence begging the question: How can it be that Dowless not already prosecuted after 2016, but allowed instead to carry out the same unlawful election fraud scams in 2018?!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a number of climate crisis Christmas gifts from states around the country and hardly any lumps of coal at all!...

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Guest: DuPage, IL County Clerk candidate Jean Kaczmarek; Also: In wake of still more mail bombs, Trump, White House return to attacks on media, Rightwing pounces on conspiracies...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2018 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Like clockwork the righwing conspiracy theories regarding pipe bombs begin, as do the voting system failures around the country, less than two weeks before this year's crucial midterm election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, a few quick updates on the mail bombs sent to several of the many vilified political critics of Donald Trump. In addition to explosive devices sent this week to former President Obama, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, John Brennan, Rep. Maxine Waters, George Soros and CNN, additional similar packages were reported today to have been delivered to former Vice President Joe Biden and actor Robert DeNiro. Where Trump and the White House called for unity and an end to divisive rhetoric on Wednesday, for about 5 minutes, both Trump and WH Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders quickly renewed their vitriolic attacks on the media shortly thereafter and again on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, as investigators reportedly focus on Florida as a possible source for the packages, the rightwing quickly cranked up conspiracy theories about the explosive devices being "fake bombs" meant to discredit the President in advance of the November 6 midterms.

Meanwhile, voting is already underway for those elections, as are the lawsuits aiming to prevent voter suppression and election fraud. A federal judge on Wednesday determined that Georgia may not discard absentee ballots on the basis of "signature mismatch" as determined by partisan officials with no training in hand-writing analysis. The state's legal defense for that statute was rather amazing, as we discuss. Happily, it was thoroughly dismissed by the U.S. District Court judge.

Also, the NAACP has filed official complaints with the state regarding reports of votes flipping in at least four counties on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems. Votes are reportedly hopping repeatedly from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams to her opponent, Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees and has long defended the states easily-hacked and oft-failed Diebold touchscreen systems. We explain, however, why the reported flips are not likely to be hacks, but why that also doesn't really matter.

Similar, completely predictable voting system and ballot programming failures are beginning to rear their ugly head in other states as well with early, in-person voting now underway in some 30 states. The name of the Democratic candidate for Secretary of State in Arkansas was discovered left off of the touchscreen ballots in one Arkansas county, leading to lost votes and poll closures. And in DuPage County, Illinois, a fiasco erupted this week surrounding the appearance on the ballot (or lack thereof) for a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives, resulting in election officials scrambling to distribute paper ballots to early voting locations where, normally, only touchscreen systems are available to voters.

We're joined today by longtime DuPage County election integrity champion and government watchdog JEAN KACZMAREK, who is now the Democratic candidate for County Clerk in DuPage. She joins us to explain what is only the latest mess in a years-long stream of computer voting and tabulation system boondoggles by the Election Commission in the heavily Republican-leaning suburban county west of Chicago, where she has now been endorsed by the local Daily Herald.

Kaczmarek also details the County's astonishing refusal to provide her with serial numbers for the replacement paper-ballot scanners scavenged from unknown sources and recently supplied to the County by its private voting system contractor to replace more than 100 of the machines (originally purchased from Diebold in 2001) after they were damaged by an astounding failure during this year's March primary. The County has told the County Clerk candidate that their refusal to provide her with the serial numbers --- so she may try and determine where the machines were previously used --- is due to a bizarre "security risk" claim.

"I'm concerned mostly because of the lack of a chain of custody. At least the old machines that are in DuPage County have been stored here, and have been maintained here. Yes, I do have issues with those machines, but we do have that," Kaczmarek tells me. "But these other machines, we have no idea where they've been, who has maintained them, how much mileage they have. And I'm concerned there might be problems on these machines, perhaps a virus."

Her concerns are not without warrant, and are similar to such replacement schemes by mystery machines in other states, such as Wisconsin and elsewhere. Earlier this year, for example, at the DefCon hacking conference in Las Vegas, attendees discovered Chinese pop tunes and other software on voting systems recently discarded by elections officials around the country. "Here we are again," she says. "We have no transparency and accountability, and we're told to trust the results."

Finally today, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, with a bunch of pretty major environment news regarding a massive hurricane striking U.S. territories in the Pacific, a record year for tropical cyclones, New York state's new lawsuit against ExxonMobil charging the company defrauded investors regarding climate change, and a landmark new carbon tax announced this week by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau...

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Guest: Harold Feld of Public Knowledge; Also: Khashoggi was banned by Saudi Arabia after criticizing TRUMP; Still fighting voter suppression...
By Brad Friedman on 10/22/2018 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More chilling Khashoggi news, more maddening voter suppression, and the Republican deregulation of phone companies in Florida and at the FCC have deadly consequences in the Sunshine State. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of article.]

First up today, an update on the latest in the alleged Saudi murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the wildly unreported fact that he had "self-exiled" from Saudi Arabia after being banned by the Saudis from writing and appearing on television or at conferences back in December of 2016 --- for being critical of then President-elect Donald Trump! That point seems quite important, given the Trump Administration's continuing efforts to help cover up the assassination in coordination with the Saudis and their ruling Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, after they repeatedly lied about the grisly killing of a journalist who had been mildly critical of Trump, as first reported in late 2016 and by the U.S. State Department in 2017.

Next, GOP voter suppression continues across many states in advance of the crucial November 6th midterms. Over the weekend on Twitter, President Trump lauded Georgia's Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who as Secretary of State, has been working for years to suppress tens and even hundreds of thousands of disproportionately African-American voters in the Peach State. Kemp, as the state's chief election official, is overseeing his own election in a reportedly tight race for Governor against African-American Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams.

Trump also took the opportunity on Twitter over the weekend to falsely fan the flames of the GOP's phony claims of "VOTER FRAUD" in hopes, according to the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, of inciting government officials and law enforcement to intimidate minority voters before the crucial November 6 election. The Lawyer's Committee heads up the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline to answer question and help trouble-shoot voting problems, such as recent reports that early voters are being either turned away or forced to vote by provisional ballot --- rather than normal ones --- if the address on their ID does not match the one under which they are registered. Georgia's Photo ID voting restriction does not require registration addressees to match those on IDs (e.g. student voters who may not have in-state driver licenses or those who recently moved but have not yet updated their license.) Please contact the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline with questions about local voting laws or any problems at the polls --- and share that number far and wide over the next two weeks!

Finally, despite national media now focusing elsewhere, the devastation in Florida's Panhandle following the Category 4 Hurricane Michael two weeks ago continues and the official death toll is still rising. At the same time, power and phone service is still out in a number of rural areas, thanks in no small part to the deregulation of telecommunications company rules by Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott shortly after taking office in 2011, and by Donald Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

We're joined today by Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President HAROLD FELD, who has been warning for years about exactly such a situation. Feld explains how Scott gutted almost all of Florida's telecom company rules when he signed the "Regulatory Reform Act of 2011" and how Pai went still further when he gutted Obama-era phone company regulations in November of 2017.

Scott's 2011 measure "was a complete deregulation of the telephone industry in Florida. It removed the state Public Service Commission from any sort of jurisdiction over residential telephone service. It removed something called 'Carrier of Last Resort,' which means there always has to be a telephone provider in the area. It even removed the ability of the Public Service Commission to take complaints from consumers," Feld tells me. He describes it as "one of the most radical deregulations in the country."

As to the federal regulations scrapped by Trump's FCC, that was in response to federal regulations enacted in the wake of the disastrous performance by Verizon following SuperStorm Sandy in 2012, when copper lines were swept away, and phone companies failed to restore them, claiming that the use of cell phones meant they were no longer necessary. Obama's FCC insisted that "no repairing was not an option," says Feld. But Pai "insisted that there was no reason for any of these regulations [and] that companies have private incentive to deploy these networks, despite everything that actually happened," particularly in rural areas, following Sandy.

The Government, he notes, largely for decades has recognized "that it's always going to be profitable [to ensure service] in the cities, [but] it's not going to be profitable once you get out into the rural areas." So, it's been a value and tradition "through each upgrade of our communication network --- when we went from letters to the telegraph, from the telegraph to the telephone" to ensure service to all. But that's no longer the case.

Like Gov. Scott's Florida, Feld describes, some 37 states have lifted similar decades-old telecommunications requirements, thanks to legislation encouraged by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a privately-funded partnership between major corporations and (mostly) Republican state lawmakers.

The Republicans' deregulate-at-all-costs efforts to gut regulations --- regulations that Pai scoffed at before he became Trump's FCC Chairman --- may now be costing lives in Florida, as many in rural areas, as of late last week, remained unaccounted for, weeks after the storm. The non-partisan Public Knowledge group is suing for a reversal of those deregulations, and Florida's own Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal, a longtime resident of the Panhandle himself, is now also begging Pai to consider a reversal...

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Guest: Voting systems expert Dr. David Jefferson on the myth of 'secure' blockchain voting; Also: Suppression continues in GA, ND, elsewhere...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2018 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Debunking the myth of "secure" Internet Voting schemes --- even with "blockchain" technology --- as West Virginia allows overseas military voters to use their mobile phones to vote for the first time in a general election. What could possibly go wrong? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, plenty is already going wrong for voters hoping to participate in midterm elections, whether via hand-marked paper ballot or, as in Georgia, where early voting began this week, on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polling place. We've been closely following voting in the Peach State recently, given the many voter suppression schemes that have come to light in the state this year, such as the recent purging of hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls, the suspensions of more than 50,000 registrations for failing to exactly match names or addresses, down to the letter or punctuation, and an abnormally high rate of rejected absentee mail-in ballots.

Thus, it was disturbing to see a busload of elderly African-Americans from a county-run senior center blocked from voting on Monday (someone didn't like the "Black Voters Matter" bus they were using) in Jefferson County, and three-hour long lines to vote near Atlanta, on just the third official day of advance voting in the state. While some may see the reportedly huge early turnout as good news, there are also reasons to be concerned that state election officials, led by Republican Sec. of State and Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, are under-prepared for what could be enormous turnout on Election Day. Several new lawsuits have now been filed against Kemp charging racially discriminatory election practices, as his race for Governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams, an African-American, is believed to be very tight.

Meanwhile, in North Dakota, Native American voting rights advocates say they will be posted outside of polling places with laptop computers in hand, ready to assign official addresses and new Tribal IDs to thousands of Native Americans who will now not otherwise be allowed to vote. The effort is in response to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week which permitted a last minute change to ID requirements sought by state Republicans hoping to unseat Democratic U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp this year. Some 5,000 voters who live on tribal reservations using P.O. boxes, rather than street addresses, are now blocked from voting under the new law, enacted in the wake of Heitkamp's 2012 victory by less than 3,000 votes.

But in West Virginia, officials believe they've got a sure-fire way to make sure overseas military voters are able to cast votes this year: Internet Voting via smartphone! The state is the first in the nation to allow such voters to cast a ballot via smartphone --- on a mobile app called Voatz, created by a private Boston-based technology firm --- in a live (and crucial!) general election. But, don't worry! The state and the Voatz company are quick to claim that their scheme is completely secure, since it "employs blockchain technology to ensure that, once submitted, votes are verified and immutably stored on multiple, geographically diverse verifying servers."

Blockchain, in short, is a widely distributed public ledger, or database, that is used to track Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. But, as long time voting system expert and Internet Voting critic DR. DAVID JEFFERSON of Livermore National Laboratory and of Verified Voting explains on today's show, the technology solves none of the many problems with using the Internet to cast votes in American elections, as he recently detailed at the non-partisan Verified Voting site.

Jefferson, an internationally recognized expert on voting systems and elections technology, has spent much of the past two decades advising five successive California Secretaries of State on voting technology. He has also been instrumental in helping to block a number of attempted Internet Voting schemes, including one he helped analyze (and stop in its tracks) as devised by the Pentagon during the George W. Bush era.

Today, he explains why use of blockchain technology, which he describes as a "fad", fails to make the Internet any more secure or auditable when it comes to American democratic elections. "All of the most serious threats to Internet voting occur before the ballot even ever gets back to the database or the blockchain," he tells me, detailing how malware on smartphones can change votes, how the authentication of the voter is also endangered by the use of such schemes and how, despite claims to the contrary by advocates of such technologies, the accuracy of results based on votes cast via the Internet can never be audited by the public after an election.

He's hardly the only technologist to decry the scheme. TechCrunch for example, recently called the Voatz app "a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea", and Vanity Fair cited experts who describe the plan as a "horrifically bad idea". But, none of that has stopped either WV or Voatz from pressing ahead, even with this year's midterms (and potentially control of the U.S. House and Senate) on the line.

"The blockchain back end of it doesn't do anything more to secure an election than any of the other technologies do," Jefferson argues. "It doesn't even play a role until the very last stage of balloting --- after you've authenticated yourself, after you've made your ballot choices, after you've transmitted them back, only then does the blockchain play any role." And by then, he says, your vote may have been tampered with, and it's unlikely that you or anybody else would ever know.

"What if there is malware on the phone or the computer that the person is voting from? Malware that is exposing the person's vote to some third party, or is modifying the vote, or is just throwing the vote away without telling the voter, making him think he's voted but he hasn't voted. That malware is not affected by, and cannot be detected by, the blockchain or the back end at all."

"That vote may be blocked or thrown away, or otherwise disturbed by a denial of service attack, for example, on the server. A blockchain server is no more invulnerable to a denial of service attack than any other service," he warns, adding "there just isn't any possibility of auditability in any online voting system, and blockchains don't change that fact."

Jefferson's preferred technology for elections: "Hand-marked paper ballots." He details why on today's program, and also notes that newer technologies, such as Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) that require voters to use touchscreen computers to print out their selections on a paper ballot --- which many jurisdictions (including Los Angeles, the largest in the nation) are moving towards --- present similar dangers when it comes to the authentication and public auditability of election results.

"I endorse your idea that if you're going to vote in person at the precinct, the best system is to use is hand-mark a paper ballot," he explains near the end of our conversation, allowing --- as I do --- that some voters may need assistive technology to vote, but that most voters do not. And worse, as we saw today at early voting cites near Atlanta, when computers are needed to vote, it can result in long lines and suppressed votes at the precinct.

"Only three or four voters per precinct can be voting simultaneously when you only have three or four ballot marking devices. With hand-marked paper ballots, you can get twenty voters voting in parallel if you have cardboard privacy booths around, and twenty cheap pencils. There are far fewer lines built up, and the cost is so radically reduced."

Finally today, a word or two from some older voters who would really REALLY prefer if young people did not bother to vote at all this year...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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