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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, March 25, 2019
Sunday Toons of the Very Thirsty Moment
With the Mueller Report finally delivered to the A.G., many angry customers are waiting for service from the "Barr" tender in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Insider 'Backdoor' Found During 'Public Hack Test' of Vaunted Swiss Online Vote System: 'BradCast' 3/22/19
Guest: CyberSec journallist Kim Zetter; ALSO BREAKING: Mueller delivers report to A.G....
WI GOP Power-Grab Undone by Judge; Military 'Readiness' Undermined by Trump: 'BradCast' 3/21/19
Also: 'Historic' U.S. flooding; New Zealand bans 'weapons of war'; Trump's new arms race...
'Green News Report' 3/21/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Staggering losses in Midwest flooding; Houston chemical fire warning; EPA chief delays climate action as 2020 Dems demand it; PLUS: 'Holy Grail' ruling in WY oil, gas drilling case...
Previous GNRs: 3/19/19 - 3/14/19 - Archives...
FL Repubs Undermining Ex-Felon Voting Rights Amend-ment: 'BradCast' 3/20/19
Guest: ACLU Florida's Micah Kubic; Also: Beto on voter suppression; Abrams says she 'won' in GA; U.S. judge blocks oil, gas drilling in WY...
Under Water, Under the Gun, Under Pressure: 'BradCast' 3/19/19
Climate catastrophe in 'Trump County'; Also: Dem 2020 candidates seek to abolish Electoral College; DST haters strike back; Much more...
'Green News Report' 3/19/19
Devastating Midwest flooding; As many as 1,000 dead in Mozambique cyclone; 2 toxic Houston refinery fires; PLUS: The kids' Climate Strike heard 'round the world...
Court News on Gerrymanders, Voting, Guns, Abortion: 'BradCast' 3/18/19
Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Record Midwest flooding; Beto, Bernie and Buttigieg; The definitive truth on Daylight Saving Time...
Sunday 'Hate Ain't Funny' Toons
And neither is ignorance. Don't miss PDiddie's latest, disturbing, weekly toon collection...
Looming Disaster?: Dems Adding Online Voting for 2020 Caucuses: 'BradCast' 3/15/19
Guest: Steven Rosenfeld; Also: Kids strike for climate action; Trumpers against unverifiable voting...
'Green News Report' 3/14/19
GAO: Admin climate policy rollbacks cost billions; Air pollution and autism; Climate change and property values; PLUS: Activism pushing a shift in fossil fuel industry?...
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: Susan Harley of Public Citizen; Also: CA Guv halts death penalty; Manafort sentenced to 7 years, charged in NY; GND already paying off...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2019 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats propose a new tax on Wall Street traders that could both put the brakes on market volatility that threatens the investments of average Americans, while raising billions of much needed dollars for the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first, some good news for the nation out of California. Newly elected Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom has now signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the state-sanctioned killing of some 737 individuals on the state's death row. Describing the death penalty as "discriminatory" and a "failure" that has resulted in the deaths of "wrongly convicted" people proven innocent, while costing the state billions of dollars, the Governor has now blocked the barbaric planned executions of about one quarter of those slated to be killed by governments across the nation.

"It’s a very emotional place that I stand," Newsom said at a presser today, "This is about who I am as a human being, this is about what I can or cannot do. To me this is the right thing to do." As we discuss, it's not the first time that Newsom, as a public official, has placed doing the right moral thing over what may or may not be politically popular, at the moment, among the electorate.

Back in Washington D.C., Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced to an additional 73 months for criminal conspiracy fraud and witness tampering on Wednesday. Some of those months will be served concurrently with the 47 months he was sentenced to last week in a Virginia federal court related to undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. With the partially concurrent sentencing, the 69-year old Manafort now faces nearly seven years in prison.

While none of the 20 or so federal counts in two different courts that Manafort was found guilty of had charged "collusion" with Russia for interference in the 2016 election, his attorney and Donald Trump used the occasion once again to lie about that fact to the American public today. But just minutes after today's new sentencing, Manhattan's District Attorney announced 16 new indictments against Manafort in state court related to mortgage fraud and more than a dozen other crimes for which, if found guilty, the President would be unable to pardon him. Trump's pardon power extends only to federal, not state crimes.

As the madness surrounding our criminal Presidency continues, Democrats in Congress are pushing ahead with a number of progressive policy proposals in advance of 2020 to hopefully help pull the nation out of its current self-imposed morass and rebalance some of the worsening inequities between the wealthy, the poor and the middle class. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Pete DeFazio (D-OR) have now introduced new legislation that would create a very small, 0.1%, Financial Transaction Tax (FTT) on every stock market transaction. The bill [PDF] --- which already has a number of Democratic cosponsors in the House and Senate, including among Presidential hopefuls --- is estimated to raise as much as $800 billion in much-needed revenue for federal coffers over ten years. As importantly, the measure is designed to ease market volatility by curbing the legalized skimming that takes place by high volume computer traders who purchase trades from normal investors and sell them back to the investors at a higher rate, all within a fraction of a second.

The legislation is supported by some 60 non-partisan good government organizations, including Public Citizen. Attorney SUSAN HARLEY, Deputy Director of the group's Congress Watch division, joins us today to explain this new move toward an FTT that would cost traders one-tenth of a cent per dollar traded. That's $1 for every thousand invested or, as Harley explains, "Ten cents out of every 100 dollars traded. That's why we like to talk about it as rebuilding Main Street on Wall Street's dime."

"We do pay taxes on all of our purchases," she tells me. "so Wall Street should be doing the same as far as these stocks trades, bond trades, and derivative trades. It absolutely is about fairness, about making sure Wall Street is paying back the US because we did bail them out for the financial crash."

She details how the proposal is ultimately a very progressive tax, even as it's very small, because it would largely fall on the wealthy. "We've really got to re-balance our tax code, and unrigging our economy starts with making Wall Street pay its fair share. The top 1% of society owns two thirds of all financial securities."

"We did research on existing fees --- things like commission, overhead costs, broker fees. The Financial Transactions Tax would be only about $80 for the average 401k or retirement saver, versus more than $1000 in existing fees. That's just the average. Some funds have existing fees of more than $2500 dollars. So, it really is a drop in the bucket as compared to the existing commissions and other types of ways that Wall Street is taking it out of the pocket of average investors."

Harley discusses both the legislation's challenges and growing political support on Capitol Hill, where the Trump/GOP 2017 $1.5 trillion tax cut, largely for corporations and the wealthy, has resulted in record trillion dollar annual deficits and a recent budget proposal by Trump to cut more than a trillion dollars from social programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (He had vowed to not cut those programs during his 2016 campaign, while suggesting that Democrats would do so.)

Finally, speaking of progressive policy proposals, the recently introduced Green New Deal is already paying off. Rightwingers have been freaking out about it, and lying about it, but they are also scrambling to respond after realizing its huge popularity among the electorate and how silly they look. Several longtime climate science deniers, including Trump acolyte and accomplice Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), are now taking baby steps by conceding that "climate change is real" and "humans contribute". Soon they may even notice that, according to climate scientists, human activity is actually responsible for 100% of the warming we've seen to date. But, hey, it's a start...

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

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Guest: Election expert Marilyn Marks; Also: CO's Hickenlooper is in; Tornado kills 23 in AL; Trump to end military exercises in Korea; House Judiciary Dems demand docs from over 80 Trump associates, orgs...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2019 6:33pm PT  

The fight to block brand new, unverifiable (and, of course, hackable) voting systems continues as election officials in a number of jurisdictions (including some key Democratic-leaning ones) are rushing to implement them despite unambiguous warnings from experts and as the national media (after years of our own warnings) have finally begun to take notice.

But first, very quickly, some of the many news headlines from the weekend and today covered on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

  • Former Attorney General Eric Holder announces he is not running for the 2020 Democratic Party Presidential nominee, but Colorado's two-term Governor and self-described "extreme moderate" John Hickenlooper declares that he will be joining the crowded field of mostly U.S. Senators;
  • Bizarre extreme weather across much of the U.S. as one or more mile-wide "monster" tornadoes flattened parts of Beauregard, Alabama on Sunday, killing at least 23, including a still-unknown number of children, with dozens still missing;
  • NBC reports the Pentagon is set to announce the U.S. is permanently ending annual large-scale joint-military exercises with South Korea and Japan following Donald Trump's failed summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. The U.S. is, apparently, receiving no concessions from the North in return;
  • Rand Paul became the fourth U.S. Senate Republican to say he will vote to block Trump's "national emergency" declaration, which diverts money military construction money allocated by Congress in order to build a southern border wall instead. Paul's vote, along with Democrats and a handful of other Republicans who have said they will also vote against Trump, would be enough for a majority in the Senate to pass the bill already adopted by the House. Donald Trump, however, has vowed to veto the measure;
  • And, in far more embarrassing news for the President today, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee --- where any possible impeachment hearings would begin --- has requested a host of documents from more than 80 Trump officials, family members and organizations as it investigates impeachable issues of obstruction of justice, corruption and abuse of power by Donald J. Trump;

Meanwhile, our years-long attempt to wave a large, bright red warning flag regarding U.S. elections, especially in advance of 2020, continues today. But, over the weekend, I'm happy to say, we received a bit of help, finally, from the national media as Politico's Eric Geller ran a feature article summarizing some of the many warnings (see here [PDF] and here [PDF], for example) from cybersecurity and voting systems experts inveighing against new, touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being adopted or considered by jurisdictions around the country, including Georgia, Delaware, Philadelphia and elsewhere (including counties in Texas, Ohio and even here in L.A. County, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction.)

Officials are now rushing to adopt the new systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections. That, despite the mountain of evidence demonstrating that BMD systems cannot be reliably audited [PDF] after elections and will result in elections as faith-based and hackable-without-probability-of-detection as those on many of the older touchscreen systems they will be replacing. The boondoggle is set to be a bonanza for the private voting machine vendors, however, which stand to make hundreds of millions by forcing all voters at the polls to use unnecessary electronic systems, rather than much cheaper, verifiable, hand-marked paper ballot systems tallied by optical-scan computers or counted by hand.

Nowhere has the fight against these dangerous new systems been more contentious than in Georgia, where the state House has already voted, mostly along party lines, to move to the systems and as lawmakers in the state Senate are now on the brink of adopting the same bill, HR-316, as well. The measure would grant at least $150 million for the purchase of electronic touchscreen systems that produce an unverifiable, bar-coded (not human-readable), computer-marked "paper ballot" summary card which is no more verifiable than their 17-year old, oft-failed, easily-manipulated paperless touchscreen voting systems.

But, never mind that. The state's new Republican Governor and former Sec. of State (and infamous vote suppressor) Brian Kemp has long been pushing for such systems, as is his new successor, Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger. A former official from ES&S, the nation's largest voting machine company, which will likely receive the contract to replace all current voting systems in Georgia, is also now said to be serving as Kemp's Deputy Chief of Staff.

We're joined again today by election integrity champion MARILYN MARKS of the non-profit Coalition for Good Governance with an update on the latest status of the battle in Georgia, where a Senate sub-committee held a brief hearing on HR316 on Monday. Marks, a registered Republican herself, reports in on the Peach State's partisan divide in this battle, with most Democrats and members of the public coming down against the new unverifiable systems and most Republicans and election officials pushing for them, contrary to the unwavering advice from cybersecurity and election experts offering a large and growing body of documented facts detailing the dangers of computer-marked BMD systems.

When I ask Marks how state lawmakers could possibly approve these systems, given all that is on the public record against them, she tells me: "They are working in a fact-free environment right now...The Republicans are rushing this through so fast. They know that this stinks to high heaven, that there is no logical reason anybody would choose this over hand-marked paper ballots, when the technology is so uncertain, the price tag is enormous, and no one will take time to let the experts speak" at public hearings.

"It's absurd, but right now they don't care about the facts," she insists. "They don't care about the money, either. The numbers that the are throwing out --- $150 million dollars --- the thing is going to cost far more than that, it's clear. Their numbers are wildly off. They are rushing headlong to do this deal --- the facts, the voters, be damned."

Why? Well, we discuss that --- and what you can do about it --- on today's program. But I will note, that Marks tells me that many other jurisdictions followed Georgia after they adopted touchscreens back in 2002. She feels that is likely to happen again now. "So, this is important to try to stop this here. Conversely, if we stop it here, then in a lot of other places, they will look really hard. If Georgia turned it down when they were this close, then I think it will help stop it in other places." For now, however, unless something changes, it's looking more and more like Georgia voters are about to be saddled for another whole bunch of years of election results that can never be verified as accurate. Unfortunately, they won't be the only ones...

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

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Guest: Stephen Schwartz of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists; Also: Criminal charges coming in NC-9's GOP election fraud scandal?; Trump injects himself into the Oscars that tried to ignore him...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2019 6:36pm PT  

On today's BradCast, experts are worried about Donald Trump's summit this week with North Korea's Kim Jong-Un. But, given the overall menace to the world that our President represents, are those experts too worried about a deal that could, at least, keep Trump believing that he is "winning"? [Audio link to show follows below.]

But, first up today, the (non-nuclear) fallout continues in North Carolina, after the state Board of Elections last week voted unanimously for a new election in the state's 9th Congressional District following a Republican absentee ballot election fraud scandal tainted last November's never-certified 905-vote "victory" margin of Trump-endorsed Republican candidate and preacher Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. State prosecutors on Friday disclosed their intentions to bring the matter --- along with evidence of similar GOP fraud allegedly carried out in the same district back in 2016 --- before a grand jury. It's still unclear who might be charged and for which crimes, given that GOP contractor McCrae Dowless is said to have carried out the scheme paid for by Harris, who also appears to have lied about it all under oath last week on the witness stand during the Board's week-long public hearings on the matter.

After last week's decision to hold a new election, McCready quickly announced his plans to run again, but the disgraced Harris has remained mum. During a press avail at the White House on Friday, after months of not mentioning it, Trump was finally forced to comment on the unprecedented election fraud scandal engulfing the candidate he campaigned for in NC last year. In world salad remarks, he offered a bunch of false, disproved, or otherwise evidence-free claims about supposed "voter fraud" in California, Texas, and Florida last year.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning, the President took off to Vietnam for his second nuclear summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Diplomatic, military and atomic experts --- and even senior Administration officials --- have reportedly been expressing concern for what Trump may give away during the upcoming meeting, as the North has only increased its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities following the pair's first meeting last June in Singapore, after which Trump falsely declared: "There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea."

Given Trump's 2017 "fire and fury" threats against Kim, however, are experts overly worried about whatever "deal" Trump may try to make with Kim in order to walk away with something he can pretend to be a "win"? In exchange for promises of eventual "denuclearization" or less, they worry Trump, could "give away", among other things, a permanent end to U.S. military exercises in the region; a peace treaty to once and for all end the Armistice struck between the North and South at the end of the Korean War in 1953; or even a promise to bring U.S. troops home from South Korea, where they have been stationed for decades during the long, if tenuous truce in Northeast Asia.

But are those things bad, in and of themselves? And, more to the point, with a U.S. President as wildly unbalanced and unqualified as our current one --- along with the need for "nuclear security triage", given that fact --- should we all just be happy that at least he now believes Kim is his best buddy?

Analyst STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, former publisher and executive director, now Senior Fellow at the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists --- keepers of the so-called "Doomsday Clock" --- joins us to offer his insight and perspective on all of this in advance of this week's summit where, as I argue a bit today, a bad deal for the U.S. may be better than no deal, given the greater danger that Trump, with his finger on the nuclear button, presents to the world.

"In general, it's almost always a good thing when world leaders who are not seeing eye-to-eye on issues are talking rather than not talking, or arguing with each over Twitter, or setting up military confrontations up to and including war," Schwartz, who is also former editor of the Nonproliferation Review at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tells me. "With Donald Trump, however, you can't really be sure, because he's very much a captive of the last person that he spoke with and tends to take their perspective. He's also pretty mercurial. He can turn on a dime and he's desperate for attention, desperate for a win, and therefore that makes it more likely he will try to strike some sort of deal that allows him, at least on the face, to come out of this looking like he accomplished something. And that could be problematic."

He goes on to explain why he believes "Kim Jong Un has Trump right where he wants him;" charges that Trump "in this instance, is both the arsonist and the fireman," having "inflamed an already tense situation with North Korea and made it much worse;" but seems to agree with my general theory that a placated Trump results in an ultimately safer world --- at least during the short term while he's still in office.

Schwartz also responds to Trump's repeated insistence that the U.S. would be at war with North Korea by now, had Hillary Clinton been elected in 2016 ("No, in a word," he tells me), and also comments on Trump's "very foolish and counter-productive" recent decision to withdraw from the otherwise successful, decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia, struck by Ronald Reagan with Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980s, and much more.

Finally, before leaving for Hanoi, Trump found time to tweet in response to Sunday night's Academy Awards Ceremony in Hollywood, where director Spike Lee won his long-overdue first Oscar for the screenplay of the remarkably timely BlacKkKlansman. Even though Lee never mentioned him by name during his acceptance speech citing 400 years since slavery began in America, our racist President found a way to inject himself into the proceedings by tweeting out today that Lee, a descent of slaves, was actually "racist". We close by discussing both that and a few of the must-see films that got robbed by the Academy this year...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/21/2019 11:18am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: EPA's 'action plan' on toxic chemicals in drinking water? Take action...later; Australian court blocks coal mine on climate change grounds; January was the third hottest January ever recorded; BP predicts renewable energy will be world's main source of power within 20 years; PLUS: Trump Administration wants California's high-speed rail funding back... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Now celebrating 10 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!
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): The Green New Deal: a centuries-old idea could revolutionize climate policy; >'Moment of reckoning': US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports; How EPA Wehrum’s former law firm profited from the fight to roll back air rules; Polar Vortex showed how much renewable energy storage may be needed; Is the 'insect apocalypse' really upon us?; MI Gov. Whitmer's new environmental order leaves 'polluter panels' in place— for now; Supreme Court Clean Water Act case could have big impact on coal ash disposal... PLUS: Video: 'We are entering into an unprecedented climate', say authors David Wallace-Wells and Dr. Michael Mann... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest-host Angie Coiro with Joel Simon of Comm. to Protect Journalists; Also: Fate of big-tech host cities; Weld to primary Trump?; RBG returns...
By Angie Coiro on 2/15/2019 6:11pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I'm in for Brad and Des, dropping by from my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Today's Rose Garden press conference was drenched in irony: a faltering, incoherent, angry man declaring a "national emergency", even as he demonstrated that he's the crisis. Donald Trump yelled at reporters to sit down, fell into sing-song whimsy, showed off his version of a Chinese accent, repeated phrases when he lost his train of thought, wielding terrifyingly grown-up powers with the gravitas of a toddler in a man's suit.

Fortunately, enough roadblocks will be thrown down --- by Reps AOC and Castro, by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, by the ACLU, and presumably by property owners along the proposed wall sites --- that he should be kept busy and irritated for some time. The taxpayer money wasted will be appalling.

Republican former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld appears willing to throw himself atop the bomb: he says he may primary Donald Trump. He minced no words -– I mean, he was stunningly straightforward -– in criticizing his fellow GOPers, who he said exhibit all the signs of Stockholm Syndrome(!). Someone needs to step up, he says. He even hints that he's willing to act as a spoiler to damage Trump in the general.

Plus the latest on Facebook, Amazon, and what tech campuses have to offer their neighbors.

Finally, my guest JOEL SIMON of the Committee to Protect Journalists. His new book, We Want To Negotiate, makes a compelling case that both the US and Britain need to re-examine their "we don't negotiate with terrorists" policies. His research puts the lie to a lot of assumptions, for example, that to pay ransoms will encourage more kidnappings. It makes sense on the face of it, but --- wrong.

Download MP3 or listen 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!




With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 2/14/2019 11:08am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Banning cars, cows and ice cream?! Republicans move quickly to demonize the Green New Deal; New study warns insects are declining at an alarming rate; Massive public lands bill passes in the Senate; PLUS: Los Angeles ditches natural gas for electricity... 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): If Not the Green New Deal, Then What?: We asked two GND critics to share their good-faith alternatives for reversing climate change; EPA Scientists: The Toxic Chemicals Our Agency Won’t Regulate Are Definitely in Our Drinking Water; TVA board rebukes Trump, votes to close two coal-fired power plants; School climate strike children’s garners academics' support; Landmark Australian ruling rejects coal mine over global warming; Weedkiller 'raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent; With Democrats in Charge, House Science Committee Talks About Climate Science... PLUS: PGE, NextEra team up for largest wind-solar-storage project in US... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Also: McConnell's Election Day holiday lie; Schumer's Trump 'intervention'; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/31/2019 6:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Some encouraging news for democracy (at least in Georgia), some predictable lies from the Senate Majority leader, a gentle rebuke for Trump from both parties, and a call for intervention from the Senate Minority Leader, among other things.

Just some of the many stories covered on today's program...

  • Georgia Democrat and potential U.S. Senate candidate Stacey Abrams, who will be giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union Address on Tuesday, is set to run a television ad during Sunday's Super Bowl in Atlanta with a north Georgia Republican County Commissioner calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots in the state!

    The ad is sponsored by Abrams' non-partisan voting rights organization Fair Fight, formed after Abrams is said to have very narrowly lost her contest to become the nation's first African-American female governor last November to Republican Secretary of State and champion vote suppressor Brian Kemp. Both he and his GOP successor are now calling for the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to be replaced with new, very expensive and also 100% unverifiable touchscreen systems that produce computer-marked, human-unreadable barcoded ballot summary cards, rather than hand-marked paper ballots which computer science and voting systems experts all agree [PDF] to be the most secure, auditable and overseeable way to carry out elections;
  • In the U.S. Senate, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered a huge lie about the Democrats' "For the People Act" (HR-1), recently introduced in the U.S. House to call for a series of major election reforms. Among the many provisions in the measure --- such as universal automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, ending partisan gerrymandering and yes, ensuring a HAND-MARKED paper ballot for every voter --- it also seeks to declare Election Day as a federal holiday. Naturally, McConnell lied about what the bill calls for on that point, and absurdly describes the measure as a "Democrat power-grab". We respond;
  • Also in the U.S. Senate, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Trump's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats calling for him and the other Administration Intelligence Chiefs to "stage an intervention" with the Commander-in-Chief, after Donald Trump described his own top intel officials on Wednesday as "wrong", "naive" and needing to "go back to school!" on a host of foreign policy issues. Trump's remarks came in response to the Intelligence Community's new annual "Worldwide Threat Assessment" PDF. The report, and Senate testimony from the chiefs about it on Tuesday, argues that Trump is essentially wrong on everything from North Korea, to Iran, to ISIS to Syria and Afghanistan, and on his claims about an imagined "national emergency" at the U.S. -Mexico board.
  • But if Schumer really wants to "stage an intervention" with this President, his Democrats in the Senate and House could be calling for an immediate Impeachment inquiry. As detailed by Ernest Canning at BradBlog.com this week, the Nixon impeachment process reveals that it is both unnecessary and, arguably, unwise for Dems to wait for a report from the Special Counsel investigation before exercising their Constitutional duty;
  • Also today, Republicans and about half of Senate Democrats passed an amendment that (gently) rebukes the President by calling for U.S. troops to remain in both Syria and Afghanistan, in contrast to Trump's recent military directives;
  • An upside to the recent federal government shutdown? A beach in Northern California that had been closed will remain closed, because elephant seals have taken it over;
  • And, finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with updates on the record bone-chilling --- and deadly --- Polar Vortex cold snap in the Midwest and Northeast, evidence that Trump's intervention in Venezuela is, of course, all about oil, and some good news out of Germany which is now on its way to quitting coal entirely...

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

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Guests: BRAD BLOG's Ernest A. Canning and Desi Doyen, with a look back, a look forward, some thanks, and, yes, the news of the day...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2019 6:25pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's the 15th Anniversary of The BRAD BLOG! So --- in addition to the news of the day --- we take a precious few minutes on today's program to reminisce a bit with longtime BradBlog.com legal contributor ERNEST A. CANNING and Green News Report co-host and BradCast producer DESI DOYEN! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

After a few words on Canning's latest article at the blog on the "Political Revolution" embodied by the new freshman class of progressive U.S. House members and the many challenges they are now facing down in D.C., we discuss some of the lessons learned and important stories covered at our little, independent, reader- and listener-supported website over the past decade and a half.

Many of the stories we broke years ago --- too numerous to link here, on everything from electronic voting concerns and voting rights to climate change and much more --- have since become part of the national consensus as well as many popular calls for reform. That, even as much (but not all) of our independently verifiable, evidence-based news coverage was marginalized or dismissed by many in the corporate media years earlier. We discuss just a few of those stories today --- too numerous to detail here --- as we look both back and forward on this latest milestone. We also offer thanks to the many who have made all of it possible over the years, from our blogging contributors, to radio affiliate partners, to various whistleblowers (publicly known and unknown) over the years.

Of course, none of it could be done without those of you support our work via BradBlog.com/Donate. So, if you haven't hit that page in a while, please consider doing so, as we operate solely on the support of folks like you. Seriously. Please consider a one-time donation or, even better, an automated monthly donation of any amount you can afford. I hate haranguing folks for this, but it really is necessary in order for us to continue our work, which we now share on a daily basis with dozens of radio affiliates around the country and world for free! Your support alone allows that and so much more that we do at The BRAD BLOG, The BradCast and the Green News Report to continue. And if I can't ask on our 15th birthday, when can I? So click here please! And thank you!

And, yes, there was also a bit of news today for a change in Washington D.C., so we also cover that on today's program. Among those stories...

  • Donald Trump's federal government shutdown nears the end of it's fifth record week, as he folded like one of his own cheap and poorly tailored suits on Wednesday night in his standoff with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on delivering his State of the Union next week.
  • At the same time, federal aviation unions issued a dire warning about the ongoing effects and potential critical dangers of the shutdown.
  • We share a heartbreaking story about a 10-year old girl who suffered a broken wrist in stoic silence for a week, because she was frightened to tell her father, a Dept. of Homeland Security employee forced to work without pay.
  • Billionaire crypt-keeper and Commerce Dept. Secretary Wilbur Ross took to the airwaves to, essentially, call 800,000 federal workers whiners for needing to use food banks to feed their families, when they could just go out and get a bank loan instead to cover costs until the federal government reopens.
  • In the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell finally allowed votes on measures to reopen the government, one from Rs and one from Ds. Both failed to get the 60 votes needed to overcome filibuster, though the D version --- which did not include funding for Trump's border wall --- received more votes than the R version in the GOP-majority Senate.
  • And Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen learned that he may have to appear before both House and Senate Committees next month, despite threats to his family by the President of the United States.
  • Finally. Desi brings us the latest Green News Report, with more bad news about the shutdown and Greenland's melting ice shelf, but some encouraging news on a huge majority of Americans who now appreciate the threat of climate change and on the amazing teen climate activist taking on the corporate powers and millionaire/billionaires at Davos this week...

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

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Also: Govt still closed; Trump approval plummeting; Pelosi calls his SOTU bluff; Cohen cancels; Maher: How the middle-class has been squeezed...
By Brad Friedman on 1/23/2019 6:46pm PT  

Donald Trump was busy 'making American great again' today by extending the longest federal government shutdown in the nation's history, intimidating and threatening federal criminal witnesses and their families, lying about Democrats and calling the U.S. House Speaker silly names. And --- oh, yeah --- continuing to do nothing about a very clear case of election-flipping fraud.

By and large, the only good news we could find for today's BradCast comes from the states. But we'll take what we can get. Among the stories covered on today's program:

  • Los Angeles teachers returned to work after a six day strike was settled with a new contract that increases pay and decreases class size, among other things;
  • In D.C., in the meantime, the government shutdown continued as new polling from AP-NORC finds Trump's approval numbers plummeting over the last month in the bargain;
  • After the President insisted on Wednesday that he was coming to Congress next week to deliver his State of the Union address amid the shutdown, Speaker Pelosi called his bluff and announced she was officially postponing it until after the government was reopened;
  • Also cancelled for now, the public testimony of Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen before the U.S. House Oversight Committee that had been scheduled for the first week in February. The cancellation, according to Cohen's attorney, comes after the President's attempts to intimidate the federal witness by calling for his family to be investigated. Intimidating or threatening Congressional witnesses is a federal crime, not unlike the felony Cohen says Trump "directed" regarding hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom Trump had allegedly had sexual affairs. Cohen could still be subpoenaed to testify before he begins a three year sentence in March;
  • The U.S. House seat from North Carolina's 9th Congressional District remains vacant today, after a state judge on Tuesday declined to order the certification of Republican Mark Harris amid the ongoing investigation into absentee ballot fraud by a GOP contractor hired by Harris. The apparent fraud by the contractor, McCrae Dowless [pictured above with Harris], appears to have flipped the race in Harris' favor by 905 votes. The State Board of Elections investigating the matter was dissolved earlier this month by a court, in an unrelated case which found that Republican state lawmakers had unconstitutionally changed the make up of the Board to disadvantage the Democratic Governor elected in 2016. That was the same year that Dowless was reported to have committed absentee ballot fraud on behalf of a number of other Republicans.

    Despite the State Election Board's referral for prosecution to Trump's U.S. Attorney in the state in 2017, action was never taken by federal prosecutors in response to the mountain of evidence of actual election fraud discovered by the Board. That, as Trump falsely claimed that same year that massive "voter fraud" was the reason for his 3 million vote loss to Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. While Trump was lying about massive voter fraud, his U.S. Attorney in North Carolina was prosecuting a handful of cases of unlawful votes allegedly cast by some non-citizens, while ignoring the election-flipping GOP absentee ballot fraud scam and allowing it to be repeated in the 2018 contest;
  • One of Trump's longtime partners in false claims of non-citizen "voter fraud" was then-Kansas Sec. of State --- and top GOP "voter fraud" fraudster --- Kris Kobach, who lost his race for Governor last year to Democrat Laura Kelly. Now, KS state lawmakers have introduced measures to revoke the prosecutorial powers they had granted to Kobach, at his years-long insistence. (He was the only Sec. of State in the nation to enjoy such powers.) The new GOP Sec. of State in Kansas wants to return the office to its original purpose of administering elections, after years of claims by Kobach that "illegal aliens" were stealing Kansas elections by unlawfully voting. The disgraced former Sec. of State failed to prosecute any such cases. But he did nab less than a dozen voters, mostly for casting ballots in two different states while owning property in each;
  • Finally today, some Dems floated the idea of giving Trump some of the billions he's demanding for a border wall, but only for other forms of border security. At the same time, Republicans supporting the President's demands have never once demanded to known how that spending would be paid for, despite repeatedly telling Americans we simply can't afford money for healthcare or education or infrastructure or the environment or verifiable election systems unless we cut spending elsewhere. With that in mind, we close with a noteworthy observation by HBO's Bill Maher last weekend on what Americans should really be learning from the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history...

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

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Trump paid Cohen to rig online polling; Giuliani moves the Russia goal posts (again); President throws tantrum at Pelosi; Government shutdown taking toll; And why Ocasio-Cortez is joyfully freaking out the GOP...
By Brad Friedman on 1/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

The federal government continue to spiral towards utter dysfunction under a President on the precipice of (take your pick). But one freshman Congresswoman provides a bit of a light at the end of the Trump tunnel. [Audio link to today's complete BradCast is posted below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program...

  • Donald Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admits he paid a guy from Jerry Falwell Jr.'s Liberty University to rig online polls for Trump before he announced his candidacy in 2015. That, as Cohen is reportedly reconsidering his decision to testify to Congress next month in advance of his three year prison sentence, due to threats (witness tampering? intimidation?) by the President against him and his family. Trump failed to report the $50,000 payoff to rig polls to the FEC, which is yet another potential federal felony and/or article of impeachment for the sitting President. While the story should surprise no one at this point (remember, he also paid extras to cheer him on while announcing his candidacy at Trump Tower that year), its somehow still stunning and disturbing as yet another indication of just what Trump was likely willing to do, at any cost, to win in 2016;
  • Speaking of what Trump and his campaign were willing to do, his new personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, may have broken the Internet after his appearance on CNN Wednesday night, in which he moved the "collusion" goal posts by falsely claiming that neither he nor the President ever claimed his campaign --- if not Trump himself --- "colluded" with Russia. In fact, contrary to Giuliani's ridiculous assertions, both men claimed repeatedly that nobody on the Trump Campaign was involved in such an activity. As of Wednesday night, it seems, Trump's lawyer is officially backing off that claim on behalf of the President...for some reason;
  • Reverberations and consequences of Trump's nearly-month long federal government shutdown continue. As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and a Congressional delegation were preparing to leave today for a secret trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Trump, in retribution for Pelosi's threat to postpone his scheduled State of the Union Address during the shutdown, rescinded permission for the use of a military plane set to take Pelosi and the others on the overseas trip. You'll also be shocked to hear he lied about it all too;
  • Meanwhile, as more Congressional Republicans --- and even a top former Administration official --- are questioning the wisdom of shutting down the federal government over Trump's demand for $5.7 billion to begin building his southern border wall, senior citizens and people with disabilities are facing the threat of potential eviction in HUD and USDA subsidized housing across the country;
  • At the same time, the Administration is calling some 50,000 furloughed federal employees back to work without pay at agencies such as the FDA, FAA, and at the IRS as tax season begins;
  • But, speaking of taxes, there is a reason that Republicans are freaking out --- and lying --- about the recent proposal floated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to raise the nation's top tax bracket to 70% on those earning more than $10 million: the proposal is wildly popular --- by double-digit margins --- across virtually every demographic and every area of the country. Thus, folks like Wisconsin's failed former GOP Gov. Scott Walker was out bragging on social media this week about lying to school children about how AOC's proposal would actually work, who would and wouldn't be affected by it, and by how much;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as Dems grill the Administration's new nominee/coal lobbyists tapped to head an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) where pollution prosecutions have plummeted since Trump took office, while Australia faces yet another record heat wave, and as the business world slowly begins waking up to the mounting threat of climate change...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/17/2019 11:32am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Senate Democrats grill Trump EPA chief nominee Andrew Wheeler in confirmation hearing; 'Code red' as historic heat wave grips Australia; EPA criminal actions against polluters hit 30-year low; Antarctica's ice sheets melting 6 times faster than in 1980s; PLUS: The business world is waking up to climate change impacts... 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): Some of the biggest green groups have cold feet over "Green New Deal" document; Cement: the massive CO2 emitter you may not know about; Permafrost melt, the most dangerous climate feedback loop, is speeding up; Trump replacement for Obama Clean Power Plan worse than doing nothing; Shutdown threatens to make this year's fire seasons even worse; Experts warned this floating garbage collector wouldn’t work. The ocean proved them right; Climate change is making it harder for young people to become farmers; Most coffee species at risk of extinction due to climate change, scientists warn; Indonesia lands remarkable victory with aggressive conservation measures... PLUS: Less beef, more beans - experts say the world needs a new diet... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: LA Times' Michael Hiltzik on PG&E's bankruptcy; Also: Federal court blocks Admin citizenship question on Census; AG-nom Bill Barr testifies; Trump's record shutdown grinds on...
By Brad Friedman on 1/15/2019 6:26pm PT  

Good news and not-terrible news on today's BradCast, along with an interesting proposition for the state of California in a climate changed world. [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start off with the good news today, courtesy of a federal court in Manhattan, where a U.S. District Court Judge blocked the Trump Administration's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Judge Jesse Furman's 277-page ruling [PDF] slammed Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for violating the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) and for offering "pretextual" reasons for adding the question against the wishes of career Census Bureau administrators. Ross had falsely claimed the question was "well tested" and needed by the Dept. of Justice to better enforce the federal Voting Rights Act.

In fact, Republicans have long sought to add the rig the census by adding the question in hopes that it would decrease responses from immigrant communities to help shift the balance of power during decennial redistricting from Democratic-leaning urban areas to more Republican-leaning rural areas. Furman's ruling called out Ross for lying and even responded to an earlier statement on the case from Supreme Court Justice Neal Gorsuch. Several other legal challenges await, however, including a separate case on the same matter that will be heard by the Supreme Court in February.

Meanwhile, William Barr, Trump's nominee for Attorney General, testified at his confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. He claimed he wanted to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who he cited as a friend, to complete his investigation into Trump/Russia, though would not fully commit either to publicly releasing Mueller's full report, nor to recusing himself from oversight of the probe, even if DoJ ethics officials recommended that he should. Barr, a former AG under George H.W. Bush, wrote and helped circualate a lengthy memo [PDF] last year undercutting the validity of Mueller's investigation.

All of that, as Trump's record-length federal government shutdown continues today, with so-called moderate Democrats in Congress declining invitations to the White House in response to Trump's latest effort to drive a wedge between them and Speaker Nancy Pelosi on funding for his southern border wall. The shutdown grinds on as hundreds of thousands of federal employees are furloughed or forced to work without pay, with travelers now facing long lines at TSA checkpoints at major airports, and as some federal employees are being forced to turn to charity food banks to help feed their families.

Next, with California's largest privately run utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announcing plans to seek bankruptcy protection this week, after facing some $30 billion in potential liabilities for massive, deadly wildfires across the state over the past two years, some have suggested the state should simply buy up the company, which was found to have been responsible for sparking many of the recent record fires by failing to adequately maintain its equipment and power lines.

Los Angeles Times' Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and business columnist MICHAEL HILTZIK joins me today to discuss the issue, as PG&E seeks state protection from liability in hopes of passing costs on to rate-payers. The company, which serves some 16 million customers in Northern California, was once valued at more than $30 billion, but with its stock price now gutted after the bankruptcy announcement and previous criminal convictions it is currently valued at just about $3.5 billion. California could end years of repeated company mismanagement, Hiltzik explains, by purchasing the company or its most valuable assets, at --- pardon the pun --- fire sale prices.

"I wrote a column a year ago saying, 'it's time to take the franchise away from PG&E and put it out for bid.' Let somebody else come in and show that they can operate all of these functions much better, more efficiently, cheaper, and without these constant [failures]. PG&E is like the Wells Fargo of the utility business. It can't seem to do anything right, and scandals continue to crop up," Hiltzik tells me. "My case against PG&E goes way back to the proposition they tried to sneak across through the voters many, many years ago to basically eliminate competition from public power consortiums. So PG&E has just been a bad actor. They have been absolutely atrocious operators."

Hiltzik discusses the pros and cons of what would be a radical, if potentially profitable, investment by the state of California, and how the company's failures and need for public bailout portend similar threats to other fossil fuel-reliant firms, insurance companies and states as the increasingly brutal impacts and costs of climate change undercut profitability.

"We really need to have a debate --- and a debate in the near term --- about who should own these utilities and how they should be operated," he argues. "California has probably done more than most other states in starting to come to grips with [climate change], because at least we've been developing information about what those impacts will be. But nobody has done enough planning up to this point."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with, as usual, no shortage of disturbing news...

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 1/15/2019 11:00am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Intense winter storms wreak havoc from coast to coast; Trump's ongoing government shutdown threatening public health and safety; 2018 was the hottest year on record for the world's oceans, putting the planet in hot water; PLUS: California's largest electric utility to file for bankruptcy in wake of catastrophic wildfires... 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): Are we living through climate change’s worst-case scenario?; EPA criminal action against polluters hits 30-year low; Australia extreme heatwave: 'code red' issued; How China’s big overseas initiative threatens global climate progress; Detroit Auto Show has SUVs, horsepower, but electric cars are few; Water desalination plants harm environment, U.N. report finds; New industry group pledges $1B to combat plastic pollution; One fight the Green New Deal should avoid for now; Trump’s executive order will aggressively cut more forest trees... PLUS: Air pollution is as bad as smoking when it comes to miscarriage risk... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Marilyn Marks of Coalition for Good Governance; Also: Crippling winter weather, Trump shutdown and probe news, CA's PG&E to file for bankruptcy protection, L.A. teachers on strike...
By Brad Friedman on 1/14/2019 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, it's another one of those impossible Mondays catching up with a weekend full of news in the Trump Era, and the seemingly impossible fight on behalf of voters who seek actually verifiable election results (which require HAND-MARKED paper ballots, according to a new letter from two dozen computer science, security and voting system experts.) [Audio link to show posted at end of article.]

Before we get to our guest today on that crucial issue which threatens elections oversight from Georgia to Los Angeles, a bunch of news and quick headlines from across the country. Among those headlines...

Winter weather crippled much of nation over the weekend and into the beginning of this week, from heavy rains and flash floods in recently fire-ravaged California, to monster snowfall in the Midwest, to icy conditions in the East. The latter succeeded in shutting down even parts of the federal government in D.C. that weren't already closed due to Donald Trump's continuing partial federal government shutdown --- now the longest in U.S. history --- to demand $5.7 billion for his promised, pointless and ill-considered southern border wall.

Decidedly not shutdown in D.C. this week are disturbing new revelations, as reported by New York Times late Friday, that the FBI had opened a counterintelligence probe of the President of the United States in 2017, to determine whether Trump was either a witting or unwitting agent of Russia. That, as Trump's Attorney General nominee William Barr, on Monday, released his prepared opening remarks in advance of his confirmation hearings this week in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Despite his previous criticism of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe and his argument that Presidents cannot be investigated for certain things, Barr now says the Special Counsel investigation should be allowed to finish and its report should be made public.

In California, the state's largest private utility company, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), announced their intention to seek bankruptcy protection in light of tens of billions of dollars in potential legal liability for maintenance failures that helped spark a number of the historic and deadly fires that crippled the state during last year's record wildfire season. And, in Los Angeles, some 35,000 teachers at the nation's second-largest school district walked out, striking to demand higher pay and smaller class sizes.

Next, we turn to some election news, with New York state, one of the most restrictive in the nation when it comes to voting access, finally moving to update its system with a package of bills this week that include early voting, vote-by-mail, same-day voter registration and other long-overdue reforms.

In Georgia, meanwhile, two dozen of the nation's top Computer Security and Voting Systems experts issued a critical landmark letter [PDF] last week to the state's Secure, Accessible and Fair Elections (SAFE) Commission, essentially begging the panel, convened by former Republican Sec. of State and incoming Governor Brian Kemp, to not move the state's voting system from 100 percent unverifiable touchscreen Direct Record Electronic (DRE) systems to similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMD), which print out a computer-marked and barcoded summary of voters' ballots. They call instead for hand-marked paper ballots, which they describe as "the best method for recording votes in public elections."

The letter notes that BMD systems are more expensive than hand-marked paper ballot systems but, more importantly, cannot be audited after an election to determine whether the results reflect the actual intent of voters. Despite the scientists crucial recommendation last week, and every comment --- other than from election officials and private voting system vendor lobbyists --- made by the public at last week's SAFE Commission hearing, Kemp's panel shamefully voted to recommend BMDs to state lawmakers.

But, while that virtually inexplicable action moves ahead in the Peach State under Republican rule, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, under Democratic rule, has already decided to move to a pricey and similarly unverifiable touchscreen BMD system before the 2020 Presidential election!

We're joined today by MARILYN MARKS, a national leader in the fight for HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems. She heads up the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance --- which filed several landmark lawsuits last year against Georgia's current unverifiable voting systems and in hopes of preventing their new ones.

"The point is a very, very simple point that the SAFE Commission --- and apparently L.A. --- pretends that they are missing," argues Marks. "They all talk about how they want elections that can be audited. Well, when you use these Ballot Marking Devices, the election cannot be audited, because the source document [the computer-marked, barcoded ballot] is not an original transaction. It cannot be audited. Therefore you cannot audit the results."

Making matters worse, even if every single voter manages to correctly verify the computer-printed, human-readable summary of voter selections, "what's actually cast and the actual official vote is a barcode. Now, none of us can read barcodes. I don't know what vote I'm actually casting. I am casting a barcode, but what in the world does that barcode actually say? That, to me, is a Constitutional violation."

We discuss that and the many other dangers of BMD systems being implement across the country --- with little or no pushback in places like L.A. --- as well as the differences between the proposed new systems from private vendors in GA and the publicly-owned one already coming to L.A. County. In short, despite a number of explanations offered to us by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan (shared on today's program) Marks argues there is little, if any, difference in the lack of verifiability and auditablity of such voting systems.

Finally, we take just a few listener calls on all of the above on our way out today...

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

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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!!!...

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

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