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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, September 21, 2018
Defining 'Disaster' One Year After Maria, One Week After Florence: 'BradCast' 9/20/18
Guest: Disaster historian Scott Knowles; Also: Kavanaugh's accuser is willing to testify next week under certain conditions...
'Green News Report' 9/20/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hurricane Florence floodwaters pose toxic public health threat; NC begins long road of recovery; PLUS: Trump Interior Dept. formally rolls back still more methane regulations...
Previous GNRs: 9/18/18 - 9/13/18 - Archives...
GOP's Panic to Confirm Kavanaugh 'ASAP':
'BradCast' 9/19/18
Also: Toxic disaster begins after Florence; AL SoS sued for Twitter blocking; Bad news for 'dark money', good news for voters...
Kavanaugh Nomination Falling Apart: 'BradCast' 9/18/18
Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: Florence fallout made worst by Trump tariffs; Judge allows use of GA's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in November...
'Green News Report' 9/18/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Florence wreaks havoc, death in 4 states; Strongest storm of year (so far) slams Philippines, Hong Kong; PLUS: Aftermath of Boston-area natural gas pipeline explosions...
Previous GNRs: 9/13/18 - 9/11/18 - Archives...
I Believe You, Christine:
'BradCast' 9/17/18
Guest host Angie Coiro with special guest Chris Hedges on his new book. And some thoughts on the sexual assault allegation against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh...
Sunday Gale Force Toons
There are more storms and responses to them than we can possibly keep track of over this past week -- and in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Progressive Wins, Losses in NY End Primaries That Redefined Dems: 'BradCast' 9/14/18
Guest: David Dayen; Also: Florence flooding, nuke threat; Manafort guilty plea; MA NatGas explosions; 10 years after the crash...
'Disaster's at the Doorstep': 'BradCast' 9/13/18
RI primary results; Registration probs in NY; Deadly Florence rolls ashore; Olivia threatens HI dam; Trump becomes a Maria death toll denier; Fires explode in MA homes...
'Green News Report' 9/13/18
  w/ Brad & Desi
Florence impacts could be felt for weeks; 10 million also threatened by Super Typhoon Mangkhut; Trump releases methane; PLUS: U.N. chief warns climate at tipping point...
Previous GNRs: 9/11/18 - 9/6/18 - Archives...
Fueling Florence (and, Now, Eight Other Major Storms): 'BradCast' 9/12/18
Guest: Weather Channel vet meteorologist Guy 'Climate Guy' Walton; Also: NH Primary results, big turnout...
Former Sen. Judiciary Attny Wants Kavanaugh Impeached: 'BradCast' 9/11/18
Guest: Leahy's former Chief Counsel, Lisa Graves; Also: 'Monster' Florence; GOPer arrested for fraud & Kobach to remain on KS ballot; CA takes lead on climate change...
'Green News Report' 9/11/18
Florence takes aim at Carolinas; Olivia heads to HI; Brand new pipeline explodes in PA; PLUS: CA blazes new path of climate change action...
Hurricanes Florence, Olivia...and Donald:
'BradCast' 9/10/18
Deadly storms -- political and otherwise -- on every front; Calls from listeners; And bona fide good news in CA!...
Sunday Anonymous Toons
The "resistance" is coming from inside the (White)house, as 'PDiddie' details in his latest weekly toon collection...
Unsettling Truths on 'Settled Law', Kava-naugh and Roe v. Wade: 'BradCast' 9/7/18
Guest: Amanda Marcotte; Also: DE results, KS election fraud, FL ordered to comply with VRA, Obama returns...
'Uncharted. Unprecedented. The Process Has Broken Down': 'BradCast' 9/6/18
Chaos continues at Kavanaugh hearings; 'Total meltdown' at WH after NYT op-ed; TX dirty tricks; VA election fraud; MI court bans straight-ticket voting; Our 900th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 9/6/18
OUR 900TH EPISODE! Kavanaugh on SCOTUS spells big trouble for environment and climate action; PLUS: Extreme weather slams Japan, Gulf Coast, Wisconsin...
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...


Also: Plastic straws, straw polls, final straws, some actual good voting news, RIP Ed Schultz, and a bunch of listener calls...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2018 5:57pm PT  

A whole lotta stuff happened over the long holiday weekend, much of which the Trump Administration hopes you don't notice at all. We try help you notice them on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But we start with some of the very few bits of good news we could find, as November's elections --- and our only hope --- loom large. First up: A petition drive in Michigan to place a host of election reforms on the ballot appears to have been successful. With 430,000 signatures submitted (far more than the 316,000 required), it looks like Michiganders will be able to vote for automatic voter registration, same-day registration, no-fault absentee voting and much more this Fall.

In Kansas, following a trial and federal court order, Kris Kobach, the state's embarrassing Sec. of State, has finally added some 25,000 voters to the rolls who had been denied access for lack of "Proof of Citizenship" documents. The court struck down the state law requiring the documentation as unconstitutional after Kobach monumentally failed in his defense of the law during the recent trial on behalf of voters who had challenged it. That hasn't stopped the GOP's top "voter fraud" fraudster, however, from claiming --- you guessed it --- fraud during a recent GOP straw poll in advance of the August primary in the state, where Kobach hopes to win the Republican nomination for Governor. (He lost the straw poll to Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer...by a lot.)

In other (largely) good news, Starbucks says they plan to do away with plastic straws to help save the planet (and comply with local governments who are banning them.)

Then, to the much less good news, as all-time heat records were shattered, by double-digits, here in Southern California over the holiday. Though the wildly corrupt fossil-fueled tool Scott Pruitt was finally forced to resign over the holiday weekend as chief of the Environmental Protection Agency (his resignation letter is amazingly creepy!), his second-in-command, Andrew Wheeler, an actual coal industry lobbyist, will now take over the EPA.

Also in recent days, two issues that Trump claims to have fixed (which he broke in the first place), have proven not to have been fixed at all. Despite Sec. of State Mike Pompeo describing recent "denuclearization" talks with North Korea as "productive", the North's Foreign Ministry characterized the U.S. attitude at negotiations as "gangster-like" and "cancerous" just after he left. That, after Donald Trump recently declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea".

And, the chaos continues as the Administration is reportedly nowhere near being able to reunite some 3,000 children with their parents, as required by a federal court order and deadlines, after they were separated at the southern border by Trump's immigration goons. That, after identification documents for many of the children were reportedly lost or destroyed, and despite Trump signing an Executive Order two weeks ago which he said would solve the tragic separations that he caused in the first place.

Finally today --- along with a ton of phone calls from listeners on all of the above and much more throughout today's show --- a few words, and some personal remembrances, on the sad passing last week of progressive radio and television broadcaster, and workers' champion, Ed Schultz...

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

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New unverifiable voting systems fail in NV; LePage still dumb in ME; Walker's fears come true in WI; Canada 'fights' back; Initiative to break CA into three states will qualify for 2018 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2018 6:31pm PT  

It was another wildly busy BradCast today. I know. What else is new? But, with Trump declaring today on Twitter that "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea" (Phew! That was easy!) and that "Our Country’s biggest enemy" is the media(!), we had plenty of time to cover a lot of other things, the day after Tuesday's five state primary. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among those stories...

Maine's Republican Governor Paul LePage, the dumbest in the nation, was accidentally right (sort of) in his poorly stated opposition during yesterday's primaries, to Ranked Choice Voting (or RCV, also sometimes known as Instant Runoff Voting or IRV). On Tuesday, Maine was the first in the nation to use RCV in a statewide election, despite the fact that it's very difficult to count, virtually impossible for the public to oversee, requires central tabulation and computers to pull off, and candidates and voters in many places where it's been tried in the past have found that it's impossible to understand why some candidates won and others lost.

(NOTE: Before you send me your hate mail, progressives and third-party people, please listen to today's show first, and also note that I'm willing to entertain a much simpler method of voting/counting which solves many of problems that folks who support RCV are concerned about. It's called Approval Voting. Basically, that allows voters to vote 'yes' or 'no' for as many candidates as they like. Whoever receives the most 'yes' votes wins. Simple. Overseeable. No computers necessary. And, it helps to avoid the "spoiler effect" that many proponents of RCV hope to solve. Listen to the full show, and then feel free to send your hate mail. UPDATE: Here's one more nightmare scenario for RCV, if you still need one.)

Anyway, LePage has threatened to not certify Tuesday's elections in his state because they are using RCV, which voters adopted in 2016. He's wrong about that and somewhat right about his RCV concerns, but --- because it's LePage --- for all the wrong reasons. I explain in detail on the show.

Speaking of this country's failure to even be able to count 1+1+1 reliably and overseeably in elections (even without adding the complicated algebra of RCV), the state of Nevada took its new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems out for a test drive across the state in their primary election on Tuesday. It did not go well. At some precincts, some candidates did not appear on some screens. Other precincts reported candidates pre-selected on their touchscreens (possibly left over from a previous voter, whose ballots may not have actually been cast.) And other problems that we describe on today's show.

We also cover some actual election results from Tuesday's primaries in Maine, Virginia, North Dakota, South Carolina and Nevada, as well as special elections in Wisconsin.

In Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker (R) had attempted to prevent two special elections for the state legislature from happening at all --- because he feared the seats would flip from "Red" to "Blue" --- one of those seats in the state Senate did, in fact, flip to the Democrats for the first time in four-decades, in a very Republican district.

In Virginia, GOP voters nominated Corey Stewart, a far rightwing, Trump-endorsed Confederacy defender as their nominee to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine for the U.S. Senate this year. In South Carolina, former Governor, now U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford was turfed out in his primary by another Republican for not being Trumpy enough. And, in D.C., retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee (correctly) charged that his party has become little more than a Trump "cult".

In Canada, meanwhile, the House of Commons unanimously pushed back on the Trump Administration's weekend attack on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau following the G7 summit, and on the tariffs imposed by Trump on steel and aluminum from our longtime friends and allies to the north. And the next day, in a complete coincidence, Trump's DHS hardened their border policy with Canada to, supposedly, prevent criminals and terrorists from entering the U.S.

Finally today, a ballot initiative that would break California into three states appears to have qualified for this November's ballot! While the measure is currently said to be very unpopular with actual voters in the Golden State, it seems at least as unthinkable that it could pass as that Donald Trump could ever become President of the United States...

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: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs on Singapore statement, NK/US 'denuclearization' history, Trump dismissal of Kim atrocities...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2018 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: After turning on our closest allies at the G7 summit over the weekend, Donald Trump made history on Tuesday by shaking hands, meeting with, and praising brutal North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un at a much-anticipated, on-again off-again, made for Reality TV summit in Singapore. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The two signed and released a thin, one-page joint statement at the meeting's end, calling for the vaguely referenced "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula", with the U.S. offering security guarantees to the isolated nation for what appears to be precious little in return. Trump also announced, to the apparent surprise and dismay of both our allies in South Korea and even the U.S. military, that he intends to end joint military exercises with the South, which he described (just as the North does), as "provocative".

Trump later went on to dismiss the long-documented history of murderous and brutal human rights violations in NK, which our guest today, former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs MICHAEL FUCHS, describes as "the most brutal dictatorship on the face of the planet." Trump's response today, when asked about the country's horrifying human rights abuses: "It doesn't matter. We're starting from scratch. We're starting right now."

Indeed, as Fuchs notes, the joint document signed by the pair does not speak to Kim's atrocities in any way, nor does it reference his ballistic missile program. Trump has repeatedly cited the failure to deal with Iran's missile program as central to his reason for pulling out and violating the comprehensive, seven-nation pact struck during the Obama Administration with Iran, which ended that country's ability to even build nuclear weapons.

Fuchs, now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, offers key insight and analysis as a former diplomat who worked closely on these issues with the previous administration, including the history of similar (if much more comprehensive) agreements during several previous administrations, all of which were ultimately violated by Kim's father, the previous leader. "This is a repeat of what we've seen before," he tells me. "We have had numerous agreements, numerous joint statements, dating back more than 25 years. This statement resembles, to be fair, the least-detailed statements that North Korea and the United States have ever put out."

He argues that the current turn to diplomacy, while welcome, is only due to a "false choice between war, which [Trump] was advocating for, or diplomacy. We should be engaged in diplomacy with North Korea, but we should be engaged in it at the right level, with the experts negotiating things, to see if we can get North Korea to commit to verifiable steps to reduce the threat to the United States. Instead of, frankly and unfortunately, the sort of 'pomp and circumstance' show that we got."

Noting that the agreement doesn't even define what is meant by "denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," for which NK has a wildly different definition than that of the U.S., Fuchs explains: "This is the crux of the entire matter. What do both sides mean by 'denuclearization' and what is North Korea willing to do? And it's clear to me that the vague language in this statement is the result of not getting agreement from the two parties on what they mean."

"We didn't get any specifics, any agreements for [North Korea] to do anything when it comes to stopping or halting their nuclear or missile programs right now. They didn't even reiterate in the agreement that North Korea would continue what has been a months-long freeze on its testing of nuclear weapons and missiles," Fuchs charges, describing what he characterized at the Guardian today as "the latest episode in the TV series starring the US president, Donald Trump, North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, and a stockpile of nuclear weapons" in "one of the world’s most intractable and dangerous conflicts."

(And, yes, the summit even included a schlocky fake movie trailer that Trump played for Kim on an iPad at the beginning of their conversation.)

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with details on how climate change was at the center of Trump's turn against the United State's closes allies at this past weekend's G7 summit in Canada, and much more...

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: Stolen SCOTUS approves OH's radical vote purge scheme; L.A. County won't rule out hacking in primary election 'print error' that left 118k off Election Day rolls; Callers ring in on all of the above...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2018 6:10pm PT  

The crazy train continues. And gets crazier. Among the stories covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show follows below.]...

  • The stolen Republican 5 to 4 majority [PDF] on the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday found in favor of Ohio's radical voter purge scheme that begins to remove voters from the rolls for failing to vote in one single federal election, in what voting rights advocates (and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) found to be a direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act. According to a 2016 Reuters analysis, the scheme resulted in 144,000 voters being removed from the rolls in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus alone, and affected voters in Democratic-leaning neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate as in Republican neighborhoods. Other GOP-controlled states are now believed likely to adopt similar voter purge schemes;
  • The Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters says he cannot yet rule out hacking as the cause for 118,000 voters being left off the printed rosters at the polls during last week's midterm primaries in California. Registrar Dean Logan has announced that an independent analyst will be hired to try and determine why it happened and how to prevent an even worse disaster this November;
  • Seemingly bowing to public pressure, The Trump Administration's Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson has now said he plans to back off his proposed scheme to increase rents by more than 20% per year on more than 8 million low-income Americans --- including millions of children, elderly and the disabled --- who live in federally subsidized housing for the working poor; (Our guest on this topic last week, former Obama HUD official Diane Yentel, warns that pieces of this proposal may find its way into other legislation being moved by Congressional Republicans to gut the social safety net for the poor.);
  • Then, on to the crazy train: Trump arrived late and left early from the Group of Seven (G7) summit with our top allies on Saturday, pulled the U.S. off of the G7's traditional summit-ending communiqué, which he'd previously agreed to, and then turned against mild-mannered Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for daring to keep his promise to respond (as he'd previously announced) to Trump's trade tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and other close allies last week. In turn, Larry Kudlow, Trump's top economic adviser, took to the Sunday news shows to describe Canada's response as a "betrayal" and his top trade adviser, Peter Navarro went on to charge there was a "special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad diplomacy with president Donald J. Trump.";
  • All of which served as a precursor for Trump's historic summit set for Tuesday in Singapore with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. On Monday, Trump announced he planned to leave that summit --- with the potential denuclearization of North Korea and an end to the 70-year old conflict between the North and the South on the table --- early as well. What could possibly go wrong? And how bad does this all get before it gets better?

Callers ring in on all of the above on today's busy BradCast, focusing on the election failure last week in Los Angeles, and how Trump is likely to try and use the results from Singapore, whatever they may be, to his political advantage...accurately, dishonestly, or otherwise...

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

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Guest: Univ. of Kentucky law professor Joshua A. Douglas; Also: 'Dotard' President nixes NK summit (for now): Plus: ZOMBIE ALERT!...
By Brad Friedman on 5/24/2018 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our last show before a long holiday weekend packs a wallop and finds not just the President of the United States in violation of the Constitution, but also Alabama's Secretary of State. Also: zombies! [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, President Trump found an excuse today to bail out of the planned June 12th nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, stunning allies in South Korea with a letter to Kim that sounded not unlike a bad breakup letter from a "needy" boyfriend, meant to keep his girlfriend from breaking up with him first --- while begging her to come back. We share the bizarre letter in full, along with both reactions to it and reasons behind it.

Then, it's been an interesting week for the First Amendment and those who claim to be "Constitutional conservatives", as Scott Pruitt's EPA locked out mainstream media outlets, such as AP and CNN, from a major water contamination forum, and as a federal judge in New York ruled that Trump was personally violating the Constitutional First Amendment free speech rights of seven plaintiffs who sued after he blocked them on Twitter. (My interview with one of the plaintiffs earlier this year, legal journalist Rebecca Showalter-Poza, is here.) The Dept. of Justice is said to be reviewing the court's ruling and may appeal.

While those plaintiffs were purportedly blocked from seeing or responding to Trump's Twitter feed, because he disagreed with their political points of view, the case echoes a similar matter that we discussed some months ago, after I was blocked on Twitter by Alabama Sec. of State John Merrill (R) in the midst of a bizarre conversation [PDF] in which I politely corrected the Secretary for erroneous public statements made about his state's computerized vote tabulation systems.

We're joined today to discuss both of those free speech matters and more by University of Kentucky College of Law professor JOSHUA A. DOUGLAS, who was also blocked by Merrill on Twitter last year after mentioning to him that "blocking people on Twitter, blocking his own constituents on Twitter, could violate the First Amendment".

Douglas, whose assertion was bared out by the federal judge in New York this week, explains the ruling and what may happen next in the case (will Trump end up pushing the case and violating a federal court order and then attempt to pardon himself as a test run for the future?), and I share an emailed response to my query from Merrill this morning in full, as the blocks continue on Twitter in apparent violation of the Constitution.

The central part of Merrill's response to me today [emphasis added]:

I will continue to use my social media forums the way that I have in the past. They will not be utilized by other users to express their political views or promote their agendas.

While I don't think Merrill actually owns Twitter quite as much as he seems to think he does, there was actually no political view or agenda expressed in my conversation with him that resulted in the block. More importantly, as Douglas notes in response to Merrill's remarks today: "Once someone like Donald Trump or John Merrill begins to use his Twitter account in a governmental capacity, then he can't pick and choose and block someone because he thinks, in his own view, that that person is promoting some sort of political agenda. That's really what the core of the First Amendment is all about, and that's what this court said."

Douglas, a Constitutional law and elections expert in Kentucky, also offers his thoughts on this week's upset victory by political newcomer Amy McGrath over DCCC-recruited Lexington Mayor Jim Gray in the primary contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Andy Barr (R) this November in Douglas' own district. His take, particularly on the "conservative" bent of the two Democratic candidates, is somewhat different than the one offered by BlueAmericaPAC's Howie Klein on yesterday's program.

Then, we're joined by Desi Doyen for an incredibly news-chocked and, at times, quite troubling Green News Report. And, finally, to lighten things up just a bit before a long holiday weekend, an actual story about a "ZOMBIE ALERT!" issued in south Florida this past week. No, really!...

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: Author, columnist, gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on recent mass shootings in Texas, Florida, Vegas; Also: Trump remains dangerously clueless in advance of planned summit with North Korea...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The shootings and body counts mount while GOP politicians refuse to take action and rightwing media fan the flames. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today (after a quick thanks to In Deep Radio's Angie Coiro for covering for us late last week so I could "enjoy" some emergency oral surgery), a quick preview of Tuesday's primary elections in Arkansas, Kentucky and Georgia and primary run-offs in Texas, where the internecine battles between progressives and establishment Democrats continue to shake out.

Also, news that Don Blankenship, West Virginia coal baron and former federal felon (convicted for his role in safety violations resulting in the 2010 deaths of 29 minors in one of his mines in 2010) announces his plan to run on the Constitution Party ticket for U.S. Senate this November after coming in third in WV's GOP U.S. Senate primary two weeks ago.

Then, new details on the politically brain-addled man who opened fire inside the Trump National Doral Miami resort in South Florida on Friday, and a trove of witness statements are released related to the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire on outdoor concert goers on the Strip, killing 58 and wounded more than 800 in a matter of minutes. Though officials never declared a motive for that shooting, the newly released statements suggest the shooter was an anti-government fanatic who had cited longtime Fox "News" and Rightwing talk radio tropes such as Waco, Ruby Ridge and FEMA camps in the days before the massacre.

Then, in a sadly similar vein, we're joined by author, Daily Beast columnist, podcaster and longtime gun legislation advocate CLIFF SCHECTER on fallout following Friday's mass shooting at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston, where a 17-year old student killed 10 and wounded at least 10 others. With the US now averaging at least one school shooting per week in 2018, we discuss who is to blame, what (if anything) can finally be done about any of it, and how Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has courageously taken a very hard stand against the years-long failure of NRA-backed Republican politicians who offer "thoughts and prayers", but no actual action to try and help curb the nation's continuing, tragic and obscene gun epidemic.

"In Western European countries, you certainly have these radical rightwing groups like you do here," Schecter argues. "The key is they don't all have access to guns. They do here. That's what we're seeing. We're seeing white men radicalized and then armed. This is the predictable result of that."

"You're never going to prevent everything. There's still one shooting or two in Canada, and they've got much more stringent gun control. The key here is when you look at a public health crisis, you say 'What are the various ways, through regulations, policy, cultural change, shaming and the rest, that we can get to a place where people take this more seriously?'" Schecter goes on to explain how recent changes to gun laws have decreased gun violence, despite the idiotic statements of folks like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and others who suggest that gun regulations make things worse, and how citizen ballot initiatives can be used to work around intransigent politicians.

Finally today, some thoughts on the perilously planned June summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, and the embarrassingly plain fact that Trump has absolutely no idea what he is doing, as revealed (once again) following National Security Adviser John Bolton's ridiculously ill-advised "Libyan model" comments...

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Guest: Former Deputy Asst. Sec. of State Michael Fuchs; Also: Torturer Haspel on verge of confirmation as CIA chief; U.S. and Israel isolated at U.N. after Gaza killings, embassy move...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2018 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a top State Department official under President Obama joins us to detail the "high stakes" and major pitfalls that await Donald Trump's negotiations with Kim Jong Un, if next month's historic scheduled summit actually happens, and the already-contradictory positions offered over the weekend by the Administration. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, CIA Director-nominee Gina Haspel finally concedes in a letter to Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) that the U.S. torture program --- which she still describes as "enhanced interrogation" --- instituted after 9/11 was a mistake. She refused to admit as much during her public confirmation testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last week, nor has she ever been held accountable for overseeing torture at a secret CIA prison she ran in Thailand, nor for her part in destroying video tapes of the waterboarding and other torture of prisoners there. Nonetheless, her confirmation now appears to be all but assured as Warner and other Democrats have committed to voting for her.

Also today, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended Israel's killing of more than 60 Palestinian protesters (and a baby) and the wounding of thousands in Gaza on Monday, as well as the controversial move of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. During an emergency session at the U.N. on Tuesday, called in response to the escalating violence on Israel's border, Haley lauded the "restraint" used by Israel, as they and the U.S. were all but isolated in their support for the embassy move and for Israel opening fire on protesters. Adversaries and allies alike condemned both actions, and the U.N.'s human rights chief has called for an investigation of the attacks on mostly unarmed Palestinian protesters in recent weeks.

Then, with a landmark summit scheduled for next month in Singapore between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, we speak with President Obama's former Deputy Asst. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific affairs, MICHAEL FUCHS, who is now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. The historic meeting may now be imperiled, however, by the North's objections to ongoing joint U.S./South Korean military exercises on the peninsula, according to news breaking just before airtime today. Nonetheless, Fuchs details the many complications that lie ahead in negotiations, should the meeting actually come about.

"We need to wait and see what kind of information this really is and whether it can be confirmed," he tells me, regarding late reports that the North may wish to pull out of the summit. "I will say, true or not --- let the games begin. We are now in the midst of high stakes, high pressure diplomacy at the highest levels, of an unprecedented nature between the United States and North Korea. So the games that we've seen played by North Korea, and by the United States and others in the region, is just going to intensify now."

Among other things, Fuchs explains how Trump and Kim appear to have very different definition of the concept of "denuclearization"; how Trump's violation of the anti-nuclear pact with Iran last week is likely to increase leverage for Kim, as Trump appears increasingly desperate to make a deal --- any deal --- with the North; and how the Administration's current negotiating position appears to be all over the map, as based on conflicting remarks on last Sunday's news shows by Sec. of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton.

"I think the Iran deal withdrawal definitely adds fuel to the fire here. And the potential danger here --- I think there are lots of different dangers with this summit --- but I definitely think that one of them is that Trump wants a deal, he wants to bring home victory, if you will, and so he's going to want to spin this summit as a success," argues Fuchs, adding: "I don't think Trump is a very good negotiator. I don't think he understands the details of these issues. Nor do I think he has the interests of our US allies at heart. I think there's a very good possibility that he will throw allies under the bus in exchange for what looks like a good deal." In fact, Pompeo suggested on Sunday that a deal in which North Korea does away with its long-range missiles that could reach the U.S. might be enough to satisfy Trump, even if both nukes and short range missiles are allowed to remain on the peninsula, threatening our allies there. Bolton suggested the opposite.

The former Special Advisor to the Secretary of State for Strategic Dialogues under then Sec. of State Hillary Clinton also details how the hollowing out of the State Dept. since Trump entered office may affect negotiations ("The question is not so much about whether or not we have the right personnel in place, it's whether or not the political leadership in the White House is actually listening to them and allowing them to do their jobs"). Fuchs explains how Kim is hoping to drive a wedge between the U.S. and the South (and may succeed at it), and also offers insight into Trump's apparent complete reversal over the weekend regarding sanctions against Chinese electronics giant ZTE.

Don't miss this very enlightening conversation. It would really be useful if Trump tuned in as well, frankly!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report, as the Trump Administration is blocking the release of a damning report on widespread water contamination across the U.S., a major energy company is revealed to have paid actors to pretend to be supporters of a new power plant project during a public hearing in Louisiana, and California adopts a landmark solar power mandate for new residential building construction...

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Guest: NatSec journalist Marcy Wheeler; Also: Trump signs spending bill, lies about it, calls for unconstitutional line-item veto...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2018 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Fox "News"-ification of Donald Trump's U.S. Government ramps way up with the terrifying late Thursday appointment of far-right neo-con, controversial former George W. Bush Administration official, and longtime Fox "News" contributor John Bolton as the President's third National Security Advisor. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Last week, national security journalist MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel joined us to discuss the sudden firing of Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, and the move of wingnut CIA Director Mike Pompeo into Tillerson's role, with Pompeo's Deputy Director, Gina Haspel's nomination to become the next CIA Director. Haspel oversaw torture and the destruction of evidence of it while in charge of a secret overseas U.S. prison in 2002. But, unlike those positions, which require U.S. Senate confirmation, the President's National Security Advisor is a direct appointment, as Wheeler noted at the very end of the show last week, explaining that there would be nothing to prevent Bolton's appointment. If Trump wants Bolton as NSA, she chillingly warned, "he's in charge of nuking North Korea."

Well, sure enough, on Thursday, H.R. McMaster was pushed out as NSA and Bolton was named to replace him. So, Wheeler returns today discuss the many concerns --- from right, left and center --- about the dangerous new appointment of a man who strongly supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, arguing at the time that the role of the U.S. there, after removing Saddam's (non-existent) weapons of mass destruction, would be "fairly minimal". He is also long and loudly on record calling for similar first-strike U.S. aggression against both Iran and nuclear-armed North Korea.

As Iraq War veteran and chair of VoteVets Jon Solz warned in a statement upon the news: "Let there be no mistake – there is no war for regime change, anywhere, that John Bolton wasn’t for. He sees troops not as human beings, with families, but as expendable resources, in his real-life game of Risk." He added: "To the Trump voters out there we say: You were suckered. John Bolton and Mike Pompeo represent the neocon foreign policy that Donald Trump falsely said he was against."

Bolton, according to one former senior Bush Administration official "was by far the most dangerous man we had," adding that his hiring is "an invitation to war, perhaps nuclear war." Senior Bush Administration diplomat Richard Haass cautions: "This is the most perilous moment in modern American history." They aren't the only ones very panicked about the appointment, charging Bolton's appointment puts us "on the path to war."

Wheeler offers her own additional concerns about Bolton, citing the very curious, potentially "casus belli" timing on Friday morning of Justice Department indictments of nine Iranians said to have been sponsored by their government to hack and steal academic papers (not U.S. Government secrets!) from thousands of university professors around the world.

She also cites the observation of former Bush Administration attorney Matthew Waxman at Lawfare, as "the most frightening thing I've read" about Bolton's appointment.

Waxman, she explains, "worked with Bolton, and he basically says, unlike everybody else who has worked with Trump, Bolton is very, very, very bureaucratically competent, like Dick Cheney. We've been blessed so far --- if we can use that term --- in the Trump Administration, in that he keeps hiring incompetents. Or, even if they're competent, people who don't understand how government bureaucracy works. John Bolton was trained by the master, Dick Cheney. He knows how government bureaucracy works. He's a vindictive man, and he knows how to get the bureaucracy to do what he wants it to do. And that is, I think, the most terrifying part of John Bolton being named National Security Advisor."

We discuss why Defense Secretary James Mattis may now suddenly be the most important man in the world. And, in related Trump Foxification news, Wheeler also offers reason to be dubious about the reports that Fox "News" wingnut contributor Joe diGenova and his Fox "News" wingnut contributor wife, Victoria Toensing, will actually be joining Trump's personal legal team dealing with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Other related stuff covered today: Trump signs the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by Congress to keep the government open as of midnight Friday, after pretending to threaten to veto the 2,200-page bill just hours before signing it as is --- and then lying about it. (He also seems unaware that a Presidential line-item veto he called for today was long ago found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.); A former Fox "News" anchor with no government or foreign policy experience has been quietly promoted to become the 4th highest ranking diplomat at the U.S. State Department; One longtime Fox "News" military analyst finally quits after ten years, charging that Trump's favorite "news" outlet is now "a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."; And, in case you needed more proof for that charge, we've got an hilarious disturbing compilation of video clips comparing the way the outlet's anchors and contributors (including Bolton!)blasted the nation of Barack Obama meeting Kim Jong Un face-to-face some years ago, versus Trump's plans to actually do so in May...

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Guest: National Security journalist Marcy Wheeler...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2018 6:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump's unending White House chaos appears to have morphed into Trump's White House purge of not-insane top officials, beginning with his Tuesday firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, via Tweet. [Audio link follow below.]

At the same time, Trump named rightwing former Congressman and Fox "News" Tea Party flunky turned CIA Director Mike Pompeo as his nominee to take over the role of the nation's top diplomat and Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel, who oversaw torture at so-called "black site" prisons during the George W. Bush presidency, to take over Pompeo's role as CIA chief.

We're joined today by national security and civil rights journalist MARCY WHEELER of emptywheel.net to discuss all of today's alarming developments. At the center of our conversation, after discussion of why Trump off-loaded Tillerson, is whether Pompeo and Haspel will even be able to make it through the confirmation process in the U.S. Senate at all at this point, and how the entire mess, once again, highlights the shameful failure by Congressional Democrats and former President Barack Obama to demand real accountability for the war criminals at the center of Bush's torture regime.

"When people talk about how we ended up with Donald Trump, this is the problem," Wheeler argues. "We have excused things like torture for so long that it's just created the opportunity for Donald Trump. Yes, those precedents really created the way for him."

Remarkably, as discussed today, even Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein --- who spent years heroically fighting the U.S. Intelligence agencies to expose their horrific torture practices --- seems prepared to approve Haspel, for some reason, as do the former heads of those agencies --- the very same folks who claim to oppose Trump and object to his response to allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

On Haspel, Wheeler warns: "She's terrible for two reasons. One is that she's a torturer, and not just a torturer but a particularly sadistic one. But the second one is that she orchestrated both a personal and agency cover-up. And so we should expect, with her as CIA Director, to have the CIA even less in control than it is now." Yes, Haspel also oversaw the CIA's destruction of their videotapes of torture sessions.

Hard to figure out who's more furious about it all, me or Wheeler, after years of warning about precisely this day.

On Pompeo, Wheeler says: "He is much closer to Trump's views on [Russia, North Korea and Iran]. Very importantly, especially on Iran. So I think if Pompeo is confirmed, I think the chances of us going to war with Iran are significantly higher."

And, just to make my day, she warns that, should National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster be replaced, as rumored, his replacement won't even have to struggle with Senate confirmation (a road, which she predicts, may be difficult for both Haspel and Pompeo, though more so for the latter.) If McMaster is replaced by John Bolton, as some have suggested, "he gets appointed, because it's not Senate confirmed. So If Trump wants him, he's in charge of nuking North Korea."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for some more thoughts on the removal of Tillerson (ironically enough, even though he previously served as CEO of ExxonMobil, he was decidedly not a climate change denier and actually supported the U.S. staying in the Paris Agreement) and for the latest Green News Report, in which the nation and planet continue to suffer from the perfidy of dishonest Republican climate change denialism...

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Guest: Jennifer Cohn on the deceptive dangers of the move to computer-marked 'paper ballots'; Also: Callers ring on that, Kim/Trump, more...
By Brad Friedman on 3/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The fight for Election Integrity is often one step forward and two steps back. Don't be fooled by what many are deceptively describing as a move to "paper ballots", when those "paper ballots" aren't really what they are being sold as. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today: A quick preview of the U.S. House Special Election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District on Tuesday, where voters will, shamefully, once again cast their votes in the crucial race on 100% unverifiable touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

At the same time, lawmakers in the state of Georgia, which has disastrously used similarly unverifiable DREs for the past 15 years, are moving a deceptively described "paper ballot" bill forward in the legislature. However, what those lawmakers are not making clear (and some may not even understand) is that the bill would fund new computer-marked paper ballot systems, known as Ballot Marking Devices (BMD)s, across the state. Such systems also require voters to use a touch-screen device to vote and, like DREs, also cannot be verified after an election as reflecting the intent of any voter.

Worse still, rather than use the human-readable information printed out by the computers onto the "paper ballot" at the end of the process, BMDs use optical scanners which tally results read from barcodes or QR codes printed on the ballot that are NOT human readable!

And, it's not only Republican-leaning Georgia that is quickly hoping to move to such unverifiable systems. So is the largest voting jurisdiction in the nation, Los Angeles County! Also, counties in Texas and Tennessee are already using them and other states are looking to purchase them as well. Indeed, many supposedly progressive organizations and Democrats are actually recommending them, without understanding the very real dangers of BMDs!

We're joined today by attorney-turned-journalist JENNIFER COHN to discuss her well-researched and documented concerns, as detailed by voting system and computer security experts, regarding the nation's dangerous and disturbing lurch towards what she describes as expensive "electric pencils", otherwise known as BMDs. Cohn explained those concerns in simple, layman's language in a recent post at The BRAD BLOG.

As we discuss on the show: No, "paper ballots" are not enough! We need HAND-MARKED paper ballots that are known to have been verified by the voters, if we are going to even have a chance of restoring publicly verifiable democratic elections in the U.S.

Cohn details both in her article and on today's show, a number of academic studies finding that most voters do not check computer printouts and summaries at the end of the voting process, and of the minority who do, some 60% or more don't even notice when the computer has flipped their vote!

PLEASE tune in for this important conversation, because Americans must begin to understand the dangers presenting by these deceptively described "paper ballots", which are coming to a voting jurisdiction near you!

Then, we open up the phone lines today to callers on that issue, as well as some of my thoughts from last Friday's show regarding the supposed face-to-face meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and even crazier U.S. leader Donald Trump, regarding the North's nuclear weapons program...

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Also: Swamp things! White House, EPA grant ethics waivers to dozens of 'ex'-lobbyists to work on issues related to their corporate clients...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2018 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Donald Trump seems to believe he's the first U.S. President to have been invited by a North Korean leader for face-to-face talks. He's not. And he may not have even been officially invited at all. Not that any of that kept President Stable Genius from immediately accepting the invitation. [Audio link to show follows below.]

It's been another remarkable 24 hours, as Trump's White House appears to believe that his "maximum pressure campaign" against the North led to what he clearly saw as a breakthrough invitation from Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un to discuss "denuclearization" on the Korean Peninsula. But our own great leader appears to have failed to check with any of his own top diplomatic officials --- where he actually has any in place --- before quickly accepting the invitation without per-conditions and, as we began to learn late Friday, may not have actually been a formal invitation at all.

But, even if he wishes to believe his tough sanctions regime and blustery military threats of "fire and fury" over the past year have somehow led to progress with the North (which appears to have been moved, if at all, by outreach from South Korean President Moon Jae-in), it seems the Trump Administration has no actual strategy in place to push for the disarmament and necessary verification that has alluded many previous U.S. Presidents who were wise enough to decline such invitations.

That may be why the Administration, on Friday, appeared to begin backing away from their Thursday night commitment to meet Kim...only to unback away a few minutes later.

So, who knows what will happen? In truth, nobody does, including (perhaps, especially) the President of the United States, who is making all of this shit up as he goes.

All of that said, reported and discussed on today's program, I also explain why I believe that a face-to-face Trump meeting with Kim would be a very good thing for all of us --- no matter how good or bad any deal that may or may not come out of it actually is.

Also today: The swamp is decidedly not only not being drained by Donald Trump, it's being quickly filled with more swamp dwellers than ever before. New reports from the Associated Press reveal that the White House Counsel has waived ethics requirements for dozens of top White House and executive agency appointees to work on issues directly related to corporate clients they very recently lobbied for or represented as attorneys. Some have even been granted permission to continue working for previous companies even while they now officially work for the federal government at the very same time! The spate of ethics waivers, issued by White House Counsel Don McGahn and top EPA attorneys, among others, have been sparse in explanation, while some have even been redacted before being shared with Congressional lawmakers attempting to oversee the executive branch. Yes, seriously...

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Guest: Nuclear policy analyst Stephen Schwartz; Also: Top WH economist quits; Clueless Trump calls for 'paper backup' to protect 2018 elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/6/2018 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the Chaos Presidency continues apace, as do the nuclear threats, despite a potential thaw of tensions on the Korean Peninsula today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, another top White House official, top economic advisor Gary Cohn, has had enough. He announced his resignation late on Tuesday in response to Trump vowing to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum that virtually everyone in the country and world has come out in opposition to.

At the same time, as we also discuss today, Donald Trump makes clear that he has no actual plans to "counteract" interference of the 2018 and 2020 elections, though he managed to say the words "paper backup" out-loud during a press appearance today, as if to indicate he knew anything about how easily computerized election results can be manipulated (presuming he cares).

Meanwhile, after meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, officials in South Korea announced plans for face-to-face talks between the leaders of the both countries, along with an easing of tensions and the possibility of direct talks between Pyongyang and Washington D.C. --- unless Trump blows it. The potentially encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a number of new, high-tech nuclear weapons which he says his nation has now developed in response to so-called U.S. missile defense systems deployed near Russia's border and Trump's own efforts to greatly expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Longtime nuclear policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ of Middlebury Institute of International Studies, joins us to help explain what's actually going on, what isn't, and why all of it is happening in the first place in both potential conflicts and/or nuclear standoffs..

“Winston Churchill once said that 'It's better to jaw-jaw than war-war’. And I think that's probably the first takeaway from today's news” out of Korea, says Schwartz, noting “the good news is we are talking about the possibility of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and we're not talking about lobbing nuclear weapons in both directions.” But, while he says he is “cautiously optimistic,” he believes talks between NK and Trump’s Administration are not likely to go anywhere. The former longtime Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (keepers of the infamous “Doomsday Clock”) reminds us of similar agreements with NK in the past --- and how our previous Republican President, George W. Bush, (No, you don't "look pretty good" now, George) helped to scuttle them.

As to the dizzying array of new high-tech weaponry revealed by Putin in Moscow late last week, Schwartz believes “it’s sort of less than meets the eye,” and argues much of the show “was for domestic political consumption” in advance of Russian’s Presidential election later this month. While the new weapons systems are, ostensibly, said to be a response to the deployment of U.S. defensive missiles, Schwartz contends those systems don’t actually work --- even if Russia believes they do.

The massive new Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) revealed by Putin, however, “is for real”, Schwartz says, adding: “It's worth pointing out that the New START agreement just went into effect officially last month. If Donald Trump does not choose to extend it, it will expire in three years, in 2021, and if it does, that means Russia can deploy as many nuclear ICBMs and submarines and bombers, without any constraint whatsoever, and completely overwhelm any missile defense system we have. And then we'd be truly off to the races.” To date, he notes, “Trump has said this is a bad deal and we're not going to do it.”

Finally, as if all of that doesn’t offer enough doom and gloom for ya, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as potential nuclear doomsday scenarios are matched only by our ongoing doomsday climate crisis...

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Star of CBS' 'Mom', Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America joins us in studio for the hour!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast, on the day following Sunday night's Academy Awards show, we're joined in studio at KPFK/Pacifica Radio for the hour by our friend MIMI KENNEDY, Advisory Board Chair of Progressive Democrats of America and star of the CBS sit-com Mom (which also stars last night's Best Supporting Actress winner Allison Janney). [Audio link to show follows below.]

We've got lots to discuss today with Kennedy, a longtime progressive activist and leader (that's her and me in the photo above, just after today's show), and we also open up the phone lines to callers as well.

Among the many issues and items we chat and/or bicker about today:

  • How Hollywood and its politics have changed very quickly over the past year or two in light of the #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite movements;
  • Whether Democrats chances to retake the U.S. House this November are as good as many Dems seem to think;
  • Conservative Democrat Connor Lamb's chances of winning next week's U.S. House Special Election in the "Trump Country" of Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional district;
  • Big turnout in advance of Tuesday's first-in-the-nation 2018 primary elections in Texas;
  • Serious concerns about election integrity that still undermine democracy in 2018 (Mimi and PDA have been longtime champions for the cause!) and whether the solutions being offered by a number of states and large jurisdictions --- including a disturbing move to computer-printed and computer-counted paper ballots --- is a good idea, or if we'll be left with the same or worse lack of ability for the public to oversee election results that we already have in many places. (Among them, see the 100% unverifiable computerized touch-screen style voting systems used in much of Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc.);
  • And whether elected Democratic officials and 2020 Presidential hopefuls are finally understanding the importance of single-payer "Medicare for All" (or, as PDA has been advocating for years: "Healthcare not Warfare!").

Also on today's show: More tentatively encouraging news on the Korean Peninsula (at least until Trump screws it up again); Trump's artificial DACA deadline hits, endangering hundreds of thousands of young immigrant 'Dreamers'; Another senior Republican U.S. Senator, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, announces that he is resigning, as of next month.

All of that and a bunch of great callers ringing in on all of the above on today's BradCast!...

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

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Guest: Obama's former chief economist at DoL, Heidi Shierholz; Also: New Trump budget slashes domestic programs, calls for trillion dollar deficits, includes long-awaited, scam infrastructure plan...
By Brad Friedman on 2/12/2018 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If there's anything the Trump Administration excels at, it's their reverse Robin Hood penchant of taking from the poor to give to the rich. But their new wage theft plan for workers in the restaurant industry may bring that penchant to new heights --- or depths, as the case may be. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up, and very much related, Trump's new $4.4 trillion budget proposal, released on Monday, calls for moving still more money from the poor to the rich --- on the heels of last year's unpaid-for $1.5 trillion tax scam --- with cuts to domestic programs, more obscene increases to our national war budget, and trillion dollar deficit spending as far as the eye can see. And all of that is separate from his Department of Labor's plan to steal tips off the tables of waiters and waitresses. Yes, literally!

We break down Trump's dead-on-arrival proposal for his 2019 budget, which doubles the deficit spending called for by his dead-on-arrival 2018 budget. The scheme, described Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as "morally bankrupt", also includes what he and corporate media (inaccurately) have been referring to as a $1.5 trillion Infrastructure Plan to rebuild the nation's roads, bridges, airports and much more. That scheme would actually invest just $200 billion in federal money, with the rest being paid for, in theory, by cash-strapped states and wealthy private corporations --- even as the $200 billion in proposed federal spending actually comes by way of cuts to the Dept. of Transportation and EPA. In other words, as we detail today, his $1.5 trillion infrastructure program, is really a $0 infrastructure program, in which we sell off our national assets to private companies. Other than that, it sounds great!

Then, speaking of Trump scams, we're joined by President Obama's former chief economist at the Department of Labor, HEIDI SHIERHOLZ, now Senior Economist and Director of Policy at the Economic Policy Institute, to discuss the Trump Dept. of Labor's new plan to steal tips earned by service professionals and give it to restaurant owners instead. No, really.

"There is long-standing practice by the DOL that interpreted tips as belonging to the workers who earned them. That was codified in a 2011 rule, that just said very clearly, 'Employers, you can't take tips, they belong to the workers who earned them." What this proposed rule does is it just rescinds those regulations --- it says employers can do whatever they want with worker's tips, as long as they pay workers minimum wage," Shierholz tells me. "This has been a dream of the National Restaurant Association, which is the big industry group for restaurants forever. [Trump's DoL] cared so much about giving a big gift to the National Restaurant Association, that they were willing to propose a rule that would literally shift billions of dollars from workers to employers."

And, as if that's not outrageous enough, as Bloomberg Law revealed earlier this month, it turns out the DoL, when asking for Public Comment on this new rule, withheld their own agency's analysis, finding the new scheme would transfer billions of dollars from wait staff to the restaurant owners themselves, who'd get to keep anything earned above the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.35 hour! Shierholz details how the Department is hoping to scam the public by not including their own analysis of the cost of this new rule, even as her own organization's analysis estimates that the new regulation, allowing owners to keep tip money, could transfer nearly $6 billion annually await from wait staff, and potentially as much as $13 billion each year.

"But this is the key: there are rules that they have to follow as a part of the rule-making process, and it includes, very clearly, that they have to do a very comprehensive cost-benefit analysis. They have to estimate the impacts of the rule on workers. We now know that they did do that. But it looked really bad, and so they tried to bury it."

Yup. Prepare yourself to pay up once again to defend still more lawsuits filed against this lawless Administration.

We also discuss how this rule, if finalized, will adversely affect women in particular, who stand to lose $4.6 billion of the $5.8 taken from tipped workers each year. "The fact they are forging ahead with this, despite knowing how bad it is for workers, really is primarily about their far greater interest in supporting corporate interests over those of workers. The fact that it's massively, disproportionately going to affect women may be sort of a bonus," Shierholz quips.

Finally, with the unthinkable possibility of peace between North and South Korea breaking out over the weekend during the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang --- despite the Trump Administration's determined hopes for a new, potentially nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula --- deadly new military skirmishes broke out between Israel, Iran and Syria over the weekend. So, just in case you're worried that all of Trump's new U.S. military spending would go for naught, don't worry! We'll always find new wars on which to spend it...while your kids can't pay for college, you can't afford medical care and the Trump Administration is stealing tips off the table.

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

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Guest: Nuclear analyst Stephen Schwartz on why the clock was moved forward, Trump's new 'Nuclear Posture Review', and Hawaii's false alarm...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2018 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast, a "grim assessment" and, hopefully, wake-up call from a group comprised of the nation's top nuclear (and climate) experts. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While much of the corporate media continued their 24/7 coverage of Republicans' pretending there is a "secret society" at the FBI to take down President Trump and Democrats' ongoing speculation about what Special Counsel Robert Mueller may or may not be finding in his probe, an august body of nuclear and climate scientists offered yet another chilling warning to the world. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" since 1945, announced that they were moving the symbolic clock forward to two minutes to midnight, which is as close as the world has metaphorically been to apocalypse since the end of World War II, including at the height of the Cold War.

We're joined to discuss today's announcement and related matters by longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, who formerly served for years as the Bulletin's Executive Director and Publisher, and now as an adjunct professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.

Schwartz shares the fascinating origin of the Doomsday Clock's creation (originally meant as little more than a magazine cover), and offers insight into why the Bulletin's scientific board --- which includes 15 Nobel Laureates --- decided, for the second year in a row, to move the clock "thirty seconds" forward.

"This is the closest that it's ever been, as it was in 1953, when it hit two minutes. The furthest away was at 17 minutes to midnight in 1991, reflecting the end of the Cold War, the creation of the START Treaty that sharply reduced US and Soviet strategic nuclear weapons, and a general feeling at that point that we were moving very much in the right direction. Obviously, the people at the Bulletin today, and many people around the world, feel that we're moving very much in the wrong direction," Schwartz tells me, noting that while there are "far fewer nuclear weapons in the world today than in 1953 when the hands were last at 'two minutes to midnight'," we now have far more countries with their "fingers on proverbial buttons. Thus, he charges, the "the likelihood of nuclear weapons being used, whether by accident or design, is higher, certainly, than at any time since the Cold War ended."

"It's an interesting and obviously symbolic arbiter of global dangers," he explains. "And since about 2007 it also includes global warming in the mix, so it's not just about nuclear dangers."

At what is now "two minutes to midnight", we also discuss a draft report from the Pentagon of a new "Nuclear Posture Review" currently being reviewed for final release by the White House. The new Defense Department plan calls for, among other disturbing things, clearance for the President to launch a first strike nuclear attack in response to non-nuclear events such as a cyberwarfare attack on U.S. infrastructure.

"I think is really problematic," Schwartz warns, explaining how the new policy would set a very dangerous precedent not just for the U.S., but with other nuclear armed nations. "It just seems incredible that the first thing we would do if we were attacked via cyberwarfare is to start thinking about lobbing nuclear weapons. We're sending a very clear signal to every country in the world that has or wants nuclear weapons, 'Hey, this is what you should be thinking about doing with your nuclear arsenal.' And if they were to adopt our posture, it would come back to haunt us in a really big way."

We also talk about lessons learned from the recent false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile attack on Hawaii, how and why the terrifying alert was issued, similar such false alarms in recent U.S. history, and why this particular event highlights the many dangers of "Donald Trump's intemperate rhetoric and threats against [a nuclear-armed] North Korea."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report to help underscore the other major reason the Doomsday Clock was notched forward again today, as climate change has helped lead to the world's first major city about to completely run out of water, even as another major city in California becomes the 9th to sue the fossil fuel industry for damage to the climate.

All of that before we close today with a few listener comments on the milestone of The BRAD BLOG's 14th Anniversary of investigative journalism, blogging, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking this week. (To that end, PLEASE consider a donation to our work on the form below, or at BradBlog.com/Donate! Thank you!!!)

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

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