The BRAD BLOG http://bradblog.com Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! Tue, 27 Jun 2017 01:33:26 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.2 en SCOTUS Rulings on Trump 'Travel Ban', WI Partisan Gerrymandering, More: 'BradCast' 6/26/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12198 http://bradblog.com/?p=12198#comments Tue, 27 Jun 2017 01:29:35 +0000 Brad Friedman Arkansas Election Reform BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Election Fraud Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution Wisconsin Kansas U.S. Senate Health Care Marriage Equality U.S. Supreme Court LGBTQ KPFK Donald Trump Mitch McConnell Kris Kobach BradCast Religion Election 2018 Neil Gorsuch CBO http://bradblog.com/?p=12198 On today's BradCast, the stolen U.S. Supreme Court begins to pay dividends for Republicans and the GOP's deadly Senate healthcare legislation continues to take much-deserved heat from all sides, including doctors, Nobel laureate economists and now the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But, first up today, Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach, the long-time "voter fraud" fraudster who has been tapped to head up President Trump's so-called "Election Integrity Commission" (actually, a voter suppression commission), has been sanctioned by a federal court for "deceptive conduct" in the ACLU's case against his attempted proof-of-citizenship voter registration restrictions. That's almost the best news we have on tap today, though we do manage to find a few bright spots here and there.

The CBO on Monday came out with its score of the Senate Republicans' legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act ("ObamaCare") and finds it will result in 22 million fewer Americans having access to health care coverage by 2026, with 15 million losing coverage in 2018 alone! Despite that, and with still more groups (now including both the American Medical Association and a group of Nobel Prize winning economists) excoriating the Republican bill, Senate leadership still vows a vote before the July 4th holiday recess this week.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court session came to a close on Monday, with the Court allowing some of Trump's Executive Order "travel ban" to be implemented in advance of a full hearing now scheduled for next October, when the Court's new session begins, in what my guest today describes as a "qualified victory" for the Administration. The Supremes also issued a ruling today requiring state officials to allow same-sex parents to be listed on birth certificates, and scheduled a hearing for next session regarding businesses who choose to discriminate against same-sex couples, in what my guest, legal journalist MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate.com, describes as a case that could seriously imperil non-discrimination laws for the LGBTQ community and become a full-blown "constitutional catastrophe" in the bargain. Stern argues that the birth certificate opinion reveals the position of Justice Neil Gorsuch ("he of the stolen seat"), to be "a surefire vote against LGBTQ rights" and "just as bad" as the late Antonin Scalia on such matters.

Then, with a new study from AP finding extreme partisan gerrymandering accounted for some 22 Republican U.S. House victories in 2016 and untold number of GOP state legislative victories, we discuss SCOTUS announcements from last week in two free-speech cases and a related Court ruling issued on a rather massive case of unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.

That case, as Stern describes, could have an impact on American elections as far reaching as Citizens United but, depending on how the Court rules, in a positive direction for those of us who give a damn about free and fair democratic representation and elections. On the other hand, if the stolen majority on the Court decides the wrong way, it could result in our embarrassing system of "democracy" becoming even more so.

Finally today, we close with a much needed laugh regarding some "100% unverifiable" listener email...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12198 What Will It Take for Americans to Understand the Basics of Election Integrity? http://bradblog.com/?p=12196 http://bradblog.com/?p=12196#comments Mon, 26 Jun 2017 17:08:41 +0000 Ernest A. Canning Election Irregularities Debra Bowen California Election Reform Georgia Voting System Certification Election Fraud EAC Touch-Screen Vote Flipping Mainstream Media Failure Accountability Donald Trump DHS Election 2016 Election 2018 Election 2017 Jon Ossoff Karen Handel Election 2020 http://bradblog.com/?p=12196 There are several basic election integrity truths that have escaped the attention of most Americans, even as they confront the scope of alleged Russian cyber intrusions into America's disparately run, local elections systems.

[Despite repeated assurances from U.S. officials that hackers didn't go so far as to alter vote counts, Department of Homeland Security officials concede that they failed to run an audit in order to determine whether the 2016 vote count had been manipulated by anyone, be they hackers, foreign or domestic, from Russia or anywhere else, or by election insiders whose direct access could facilitate a malicious, or even accidental, manipulation of vote totals. The mainstream U.S. media has also raised concerns that the United States, under the Donald Trump administration, is not doing enough to prevent hacking or manipulation of the 2018 and 2020 elections.]

The first basic election integrity truth is that, as The BRAD BLOG reported in 2009, following a stark presentation by a U.S. intelligence officer to the nation's only federal agency devoted to overseeing the use of electronic voting and tabulation systems, all electronically stored and/or processed data --- registration records, poll books, ballot definition scripts and, most importantly, computerized vote tabulators --- are vulnerable to malicious cyber intrusions.

"I follow the vote,” CIA cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall warned members of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in a 2009 field hearing in Florida. "And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that’s an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to…make bad things happen."

The second basic truth is that election system vulnerability is not confined only to malicious hackers, who may or may not be Russian. All electronic vote tabulation systems are vulnerable to election insider manipulation.

The third is that paper registration forms, poll books and hand-marked paper ballots are not, in and of themselves, vulnerable to electronic manipulation. (Paper ballots, of course, are not entirely risk free. Even before the advent of e-voting, there had been cases of ballot box stuffing. But it was the advent of central computerized/electronic tabulation that created a vulnerability to wholesale electoral theft by a "conspiracy" as large as one person, with little possibility of detection.)

The fourth is that the only way to ensure a transparent and verifiable count, one that can be overseen and confirmed the public, is to deploy what Brad Friedman aptly describes as "Democracy's Gold Standard": hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted with the verifiable results posted at each precinct on Election Night before ballots are moved to any other location.

The fifth is that the core issue in election integrity is not whether a given result is or is not the product of election fraud. Instead, as recently observed by Austria's Supreme Court, the issue is whether election officials have complied with procedures that are designed to ensure the integrity of a transparent and verifiable result.

Unfortunately, these basic democracy-sustaining truths, which have been judicially recognized in other nations, have been largely ignored by the U.S. mainstream media, the political leadership of both major U.S. political parties, and, critically, by our courts --- a point that truly came into focus with respect to the recent U.S. House Special Election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District...

Verifiable democracy

In 2009, Germany's highest court recognized that which the U.S. mainstream media, the leadership of both U.S. political parties and the U.S. courts have, for the most part, ignored. All forms of computerized vote counting --- via the Internet, Direct Recording Electronic (DRE's, usually touch-screens), and paper ballot optical-scan tabulators --- are vulnerable to malicious hacking and/or insider manipulation.

It is possible to verify the electronic optical-scan tally by hand-counting paper ballots (presuming, of course, that the chain of custody of the ballots has been secure and the ballots themselves known to be human-verified by hand-marked selections on the paper.) DRE touch-screen systems, however, are 100% unverifiable. Even with a post-election forensic examination that includes complete access to usually trade-secret protected source codes and ballot definition programming, there is no way to know whether the electronically recorded tally from a DRE device has any relationship to what any voter actually intended when they deposited their vote into the bowels of these electronic black holes.

There's only one way to ensure a verifiable count that complies with Germany's constitutional mandate for "transparency": hand-marked paper ballots, publicly hand-counted with the observable tallies posted at each precinct on Election Night. The German court therefore banned all forms of e-vote tabulation in that nation's elections.

Skewed U.S. judicial reasoning

Unlike the German and Austrian judiciaries, our own courts have failed to grasp the necessity for transparency and public oversight of our election infrastructure.

Election integrity is a question that is best addressed before an election is underway. Otherwise, a candidate and an elector, who may have been victimized by an erroneous tally brought on by either machine error or malfeasance, can face the nearly impossible task of proving error on the part of a 100% unverifiable voting and tabulation system. (The task of post-election verification of an optical-scan computer tally can be hampered by inadequate chain-of-custody procedures and state statutes meant to prevent public post-election hand tallies of optically-scanned paper ballots. But, at least in theory, it can be done.)

Since 2002, with the exception of a relatively small number of verifiable mail-in paper ballots, citizens of Georgia have voted exclusively on 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting systems. The Georgia touch-screen system is older and less secure than the similar systems that, in 2007, were decertified by California's then Democratic Secretary of State Debra Bowen. Her decertification was based upon the documented Diebold touch-screen vulnerabilities to hacking and insider manipulation which, she found, could result in an election result being flipped in less than a minute, with little possibility of the manipulation ever being detected.

Bowen was by no means the first to discover the Diebold DRE's critical vulnerabilities. As Brad Friedman recently reported, "the vulnerabilities in GA's terrible voting and tabulation systems have been publicly known for years."

On May 25, 2017, two electors from Georgia's 6th Congressional District, along with a Colorado-based election integrity organization, the Rocky Mountain Foundation, filed a complaint along with a motion for a temporary restraining order in the Fulton County, Georgia Superior Court (Curling v. Kemp).

The Curling plaintiffs produced affidavits from multiple experts and peer-reviewed articles that documented the many critical vulnerabilities of Georgia's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system. Their filings also included a March 15, 2017 letter sent by 21 prominent computer scientists and e-voting experts to Georgia's Republican Secretary of State, Brian P. Kemp. That letter raised concerns about an ongoing FBI investigation into a cyberattack on the Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems (KSU Center) website. The KSU Center is the entity responsible for testing and programming the entirety of Georgia's electronic voting, voter registration and vote tabulation system.

As later revealed by Politico's Kim Zetter in "Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?", the KSU Center itself has been found to be remarkably vulnerable to cyber intrusions.

In August of 2016, Logan Lamb, a 29-year old former cybersecurity researcher at the U.S. Oakridge National Laboratory, logged onto the KSU Center website. His concerns about cybersecurity in that instance had been triggered by an FBI report about hacker intrusions into local election databases.

Hoping to retrieve a few documents that would facilitate an understanding of the KSU Center's security procedures, "Lamb wrote an automated script to scrape the site" and left for lunch. "When he returned," Zetter reports, Lamb "discovered that the script had downloaded 15 gigabytes of data" – a "mother lode" that included "registration records for the state’s 6.7 million voters; multiple PDFs with instructions and passwords for election workers to sign in to a central server on Election Day," and access to the database of the GEMS, the computer system, which, among other tasks, is used to "tabulate votes and produce summaries of vote totals."

The State of Georgia pays $750,000 per year to the KSU Center to test and program all of its voting systems. Affidavits from the KSU Center were relied upon when attorneys representing former Secretary of State Karen Handel moved for summary judgment [PDF] in Favorito v. Handel, a case which challenged Handel's prior certification of the vulnerable and 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen system. Those affidavits ultimately led to the factually erroneous 2009 Georgia Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that the Diebold touch-screens, when "properly operated, record correctly and accurately every vote cast."

The truth is there is simply no way to verify that votes are counted, let alone counted accurately, within the bowels of these electronic black holes --- a point that appeared to have been conceded by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Adams when, on June 9 of this year, she denied the Curling plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order and dismissed their complaint in advance of the U.S. House Special Election in the 6th District (the most expensive U.S. House race in history, with some $55 million spent by both sides in hopes of securing the seat.)

"Plaintiffs' concern that the DRE voting system lacks a verification feature," Judge Adams wrote, "is legitimate." Yet, she refused to order Georgia election officials to conduct a verifiable election using hand-marked, hand-counted paper ballots for a multitude of reasons, including the Georgia Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Favorito and what she said was an "absence of evidence (e.g., voter testimony, malfunction, unexplained deviations, skewed results, historical data, national research, etc.)" that would support a judicial "conclusion that Georgia's DRE voting equipment and its related voting system are unsafe, inaccurate and impracticable."

The use of the words "voter testimony" and "malfunction" underscore the court's confusion. This was not a post-election contest in which plaintiffs might present, as sometimes occurs, testimony from voters who watched their votes being flipped on-screen. It was a case in which plaintiffs forcefully argued against "faith-based" elections in which the accuracy of an unverifiable count produced by a system that is vulnerable to hacking, insider manipulation and unknowable programming error, must blindly be accepted as true.

While there may have been other legitimate grounds for Judge Adams's refusal to grant extraordinary relief --- principally the failure of the Curling plaintiffs to seek judicial relief sooner, so that a TRO could have issued before the start of early voting --- this particular aspect of Judge Adams's decision underscores the failure of the American judiciary to understand the core principles of election integrity.

There can be little doubt that if this same issue came before either the German or Austrian courts, it would have produced the opposite result. If a purported count cannot be verified, it should not be accepted as valid or lawful.

Erroneous conclusions?

One day after the GA-06 election, The New York Times, citing the count announced by the state of Georgia, reported that the Republican former Sec. of State Handel defeated the Democrat Ossoff 51.9% to 48.1%.

While pro-Democratic Party members of the media, like MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, opted for positive spin, describing the closeness of the race as an "ominous sign for the GOP," other reporters suggested that Handel's "win in Georgia...could strengthen the political will of Republicans in Congress."

Progressives, like The Nation's Robert Borsage, blamed the Ossoff "loss" on his embrace of lackluster, centrist "pabulum." Rather than draw a sharp contrast to the GOP's mean-spirited anti-egalitarian agenda, Borsage opined, Ossoff sounded "like a Republican." The well-funded, establishment-supported Democratic candidate "explicitly opposed Medicare for All and tax hikes on the rich." If Democrats are to win back the House in 2018, Borsage concluded, they must field "better candidates" who will "push to crystallize a bold agenda for change."

There was one common theme in these diverse analyses. All accepted, at face value, the official tally. All assumed that Handel did, in fact, defeat Ossoff by nearly 4%. None so much as hinted at an awareness of the "unverifiable" nature of the touch-screen "victory" or that, as Friedman reported, "according to the state's reported results...Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican Karen Handel...by a nearly 2 to 1 [margin] on the only verifiable ballots used in the race, the paper absentee mail-in ballots."

This discrepancy between the verifiable and unverifiable tallies suggests, but does not establish, an invalid count. But therein lies the central problem with relying upon unverifiable e-vote tabulation. The electorate can never really "know" who really won.

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Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing


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Sunday Toons of the 'Trumpcare Revealed' Moment http://bradblog.com/?p=12197 http://bradblog.com/?p=12197#comments Sun, 25 Jun 2017 13:00:36 +0000 PDiddie Toons http://bradblog.com/?p=12197

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Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12197 'American Carnage' (Or, the Senate Republican 'Health Care' Plan): 'BradCast' 6/23/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12195 http://bradblog.com/?p=12195#comments Sat, 24 Jun 2017 01:37:39 +0000 Brad Friedman BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Rights And Freedoms Environment U.S. Senate Health Care Economy KPFK Donald Trump Dean Heller Rick Perry Mitch McConnell Climate change U.K. IRS BradCast Electric vehicles Dept. of Energy http://bradblog.com/?p=12195 On today's BradCast: Donald Trump repeatedly promised not to cut Medicaid during his Presidential Campaign. During his Inauguration, he vowed to "end the American carnage". Now he's prepared to slash Medicaid under the GOP health care legislation, which is certain to create untold "American carnage" in its wake. [Audio link to full show follows below.]

Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers have been blasting the Senate Republicans' health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare", since the legislation, crafted in secret, was finally unveiled on Thursday. It has not aged well in the past 24 hours. That's for very good reason, as my guest today, IGOR VOLSKY, health care reform advocate, a Vice President at the Center for American Progress, and co-host of the Thinking CAP podcast explains in detail.

Volsky, who we last spoke with during the Democrats' fight to enact Obamacare back in 2009 and 2010, explains how the GOP plan's cuts and restructuring of both the ACA's Medicaid expansion and the traditional, 52-year old Medicaid program will stifle or end medical care for massive numbers of children and elderly, not to mention the poor.

"Medicaid is a program that covers 74 million Americans," says Volsky. "It's not just lower income Americans --- who we usually, I think, think of when we talk about Medicaid --- 49% of all births are covered by Medicaid. 64% of all nursing home residents have Medicaid coverage. 76% of poor children, 39% of all children. So you're really talking 20% of Americans rely on Medicaid. The House bill cuts it by about $834 billion. The Senate bill is even worse. Because not only do they go after [Obamacare's] Medicaid expansion, but they also cap the [traditional Medicaid] program and change the way its funded by the federal government."

"It's really going after lower-income and middle-income Americans in a way that we've never seen before," he tells me. "They want to push those folks into private insurance. That's really the end goal --- to drown the program over time in the bathtub entirely."

But the GOP's scheme will also adversely affect those who receive health insurance via the Obamacare exchanges as well as via employers, while giving massive tax cuts to a tiny handful of very wealthy families in exchange.

"My favorite statistic is that for the 400 richest tax filers, they get a tax cut totaling --- are you ready for this? --- 2.8 billion dollars," Volsky explains. "You look at this bill, and it looks like Republicans don't think they'll ever have to face a fair election ever again." Hmmm...

We also discuss what you can do to help derail this deadly plan (among those things, call your Senators and otherwise check out the Center's TrumpCareToolkit.org for more info), and which Republican Senators may be in a position to block the scheme together.

Finally then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with a bunch of news related to Trump's super-genius Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry and much more....

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12195 Secrets Revealed: DoD Damage Assessment of Manning Leaks, GOP Senate Healthcare Bill: 'BradCast' 6/22/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12194 http://bradblog.com/?p=12194#comments Fri, 23 Jun 2017 01:09:47 +0000 Brad Friedman CNN Iraq War BRAD BLOG Media Appearance National Security Rights And Freedoms Afghanistan Journalist Intimidation Accountability U.S. Senate Dept. of Defense Health Care Democrats Republicans WikiLeaks Bradley/Chelsea Manning KPFK Donald Trump Bernie Sanders Elizabeth Warren Mitch McConnell Edward Snowden James Comey BradCast http://bradblog.com/?p=12194 On today's BradCast, Republicans in the U.S. Senate finally released a draft of their secret plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or 'ObamaCare', and the Dept. of Defense finally releases a redacted version of a damage assessment from 2011, examining the fallout to national security from the Bradley/Chelsea Manning leaks of 2010. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up: The secret working group of white, male Republicans in the Senate finally revealed their new scheme, dubbed the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", to rewrite 1/5th of the U.S. economy by replacing ObamaCare with what Donald Trump has promised would be a healthcare plan "with heart" that was less "mean" than the version he celebrated after its narrow passage by Republicans in the U.S. House several weeks ago.

The release of the new Senate plan did not go well. Democrats, independents, and healthcare advocates alike --- not to mention elderly protesters in wheelchairs dragged away from outside the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell --- slammed the legislation for its massive tax cuts to the wealthy in exchange for deeply cruel cuts to federal Medicaid funding, and the promise of stingier premium subsidies for less generous health care policies.

A number of Republicans in the Senate also currently oppose the plan as written, because it doesn't repeal ObamaCare enough, but we'll see if they change their tune before the bill comes up for a vote next week, as promised by McConnell, before Congress leaves for the July 4th recess. The GOP can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans among their 52-seat caucus.

Then, we're joined by BuzzFeed News journalist and "FOIA terrorist" JASON LEOPOLD, to discuss the newly unearthed Dept. of Defense damage assessment of the hundreds of thousands of documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, as well as diplomatic cables, leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

During her trial, Government officials charged that the disclosures caused massive damage to national security and endangered counts lives of both U.S. personnel and our allies, but is that what the DoD's own secret 2011 assessment --- finally released this week in heavily redacted form in response to Leopold's Freedom of Information Act request --- actually found? We discuss that and the "passionate responses" he has received since publishing the assessment.

We also discuss the new White House ban on cameras during press briefings and how the Trump Administration compares to previous administrations on matters of government secrecy and document classification.

"In the overall picture, you have an administration that operates under intense secrecy that wants to limit access --- 'access' being the key word there --- that journalists depend upon. Access is really important, and it's really important to be able to confront government officials," Leopold tells me, while placing the news about the ban in context with the Trump Administration's secrecy and on-going battle with journalists elsewhere. "This type of behavior trickles down to various levels within the federal government and, I've seen, it also goes into local and state governments, as well. This intense secrecy, where elected officials who are accountable to the people are simply not interested in speaking --- and then try and set up some new rules that basically bars the press from confronting them."

Leopold goes on to cite the increased difficulty he is beginning to have prying documents loose via FOIA requests under the Administration, while noting that "some of these agencies are having trouble trying to figure out how to respond to requests, largely because you have a President now who is tweeting, who is arguably declassifying --- instantly declassifying --- information that would otherwise remain secret."

Speaking of which, finally today, Trump tweeted that, despite his previous suggestions, he has no audio tapes of his one-on-one conversations with now-fired FBI Director James Comey. But is he telling the truth, or bluffing yet again?...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12194 'Green News Report' - June 22, 2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12193 http://bradblog.com/?p=12193#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2017 18:23:09 +0000 Desi Doyen California Great Britain Environment Nevada Green News CNBC Donald Trump Rick Perry Coal Nuclear power Wind Solar Climate change China Germany Oceans Electric vehicles Dept. of Energy Joe Kernen Denmark Antarctica http://bradblog.com/?p=12193

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump suggests solar panels on his border wall with Mexico; Energy Secretary Rick Perry goes full science denial; Trump Administration seeks to reactivate Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository; Plastic pollution has reached Antarctica; Renewable energy actually helps electric grid stability; PLUS: British government to invest a billion dollars in shift to electric cars... 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): Tropical Storm Cindy drenches Gulf Coast; Worldwide coal bleaching event may finally be ending; Methane leaks spike in natural gas production in NM; Publishers defend Greenpeace in dispute with logging company; Zinke screws up 3 denier talking points in Senate hearing; Volcanoes 'triggered dawn of dinosaurs'; Miami-Dade signs on to Paris Agreement... PLUS: Solar paint makes hydrogen fuel from solar energy and water vapor... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

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    Tuesday's 100% Unverifiable U.S. House Special Election Results in GA, SC: 'BradCast' 6/21/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12192 http://bradblog.com/?p=12192#comments Thu, 22 Jun 2017 01:35:09 +0000 Brad Friedman Diebold/Premier ES&S Election Reform Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Princeton University Paper Ballots Legislation Touch-Screen Vote Flipping U.S. House U.S. Senate South Carolina Democrats Republicans KPFK DHS Russia Election 2016 BradCast Election 2017 Jon Ossoff Karen Handel http://bradblog.com/?p=12192 On today's BradCast, we cover the reported results from Tuesday's U.S. House Special Elections in Georgia's 6th District and South Carolina's 5th, and whether anybody in America can or should have confidence in those unverified and unverifiable results as reported. [Audio link to complete, rant-filled show follows below.]

    In both cases, the Republican candidates are reported to have narrowly defeated the Democratic candidates in very Republican districts. In both cases, the computer tabulated results are based on votes cast on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems. In both cases, the results may be absolutely right or completely wrong. In both cases, absolutely nobody knows for certain either way. And, in both cases, if anybody tells you otherwise, they are either lying or don't know what they're talking about.

    We do know, according to the state's reported results, that Democrat Jon Ossoff defeated Republican Karen Handel in GA-06 by a nearly 2 to 1 on the only verifiable ballots used in the race, the paper absentee mail-in ballots. Or, at least we can know that, if anybody ever bothers to check them against the computer tallies. But the rest of the race, run on 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems, will remain 100% faith-based, despite the fact that, as we reported in detail on Monday, the folks who program all of Georgia's voting and voter registrations systems (Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems, which is paid $750,000 a year to do so) left the system passwords online, unprotected, at their website since last August and perhaps much longer and then covered it up. Moreover, the Republican candidate in GA-06, the state's former Sec. of State Handel, also personally covered up security failures at at Kennesaw's Center for Elections during her term as the state's chief election official.

    Other than all of that, why worry? Last night and today, Democrats and progressives have been continuing their internecine battles, blaming one another for a candidate who wasn't progressive enough (in GA), even as they blamed each other for a candidate seen as too progressive in many areas just weeks ago, after losing Montana's U.S. House Special Election.

    I'd suggest, as I do on today's show (and last night on Twitter), that Democrats might be better served if they fought like hell for actual human oversight of our voting and vote-counting system before reloading their circular firing squad. But that's just me. In both GA and SC yesterday, those unverified results, if you believe them, do show a nearly 20 point swing towards Dems since last November's election. Similarly encouraging results have been seen in all of the special elections this year. That should be a good sign for Dems, even as a "loss" is a loss, no matter how one looks at it, and whether they actually lost or not.

    Ironically enough today, in the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, top intelligence officials from the FBI and DHS testified in regard to concerns about alleged Russian manipulation of the 2016 election. Neither they, nor the elections officials who also testified today, seemed to know much of anything about the actual vulnerability of U.S. voting systems. Or, if they did, they certainly offered a whole lot of demonstrably inaccurate information about whether voting systems are connected to the Internet (they are), whether our decentralized voting and tabulation systems make it impossible to hack a a Presidential election (it doesn't), and whether actual voting results were manipulated in the 2016 President race (they claimed that they weren't, even while the DHS finally admitted they never actually checked a single machine or counted a single ballot to find out!)

    On the other hand, one computer scientist and voting machine expert, Dr. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan, also testified today and he actually knows what he's talking about, because he's personally hacked just about every voting system in use in the U.S. today, including 10 years ago when he first hacked the exact same 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines used in the state of Georgia during Tuesday's Special Election for U.S. House, the most expensive such election in U.S. History. As he explained in his prepared remarks [PDF] today, 10 years ago, he "was part of the first academic team to conduct a comprehensive security analysis of a DRE [touch-screen] voting machine." It was a Diebold touch-screen machine, the exact same type used in GA yesterday, as obtained from a source of mine and given to his crew at Princeton University at the time.

    "What we found was disturbing," he testified (even as the Senators had no clue that he was referencing the same systems used yesterday in Georgia), "we could reprogram the machine to invisibly cause any candidate to win. We also created malicious software --- vote-stealing code --- that could spread from machine-to-machine like a computer virus, and silently change the election outcome." I broke that story originally at Salon and at The BRAD BLOG in 2006, but Georgia is shamefully still forcing voters to use the exact same hackable, unverifiable machines.

    In his remarks shared on today's show, Halderman also testifies to the fact that machines thought not to be attached to the Internet actually are vulnerable to malware from the Internet, and that our decentralized and disparate system of computerized voting machines and tabulators provides no real safeguards against malicious hackers, whether they are from Russia or France or Cleveland or Atlanta.

    Finally today, we close with a few listener calls on all of the above and Desi Doyen with our latest, sweltering, Green News Report...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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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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    ]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12192 'Bedlam' Ahead: Obstruction, Recusals, Chain of Succession, Impeachment and Indictments: 'BradCast' 6/20/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12191 http://bradblog.com/?p=12191#comments Wed, 21 Jun 2017 00:48:05 +0000 Brad Friedman Arizona Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Touch-Screen Vote Flipping Impeachment Accountability Environment Dept. of Justice U.S. Senate South Carolina Health Care Republicans John Cornyn KPFK Donald Trump Rick Perry Mitch McConnell Climate change James Comey BradCast Dept. of Interior Election 2017 Rod Rosenstein Robert Mueller Dana Boente Rachel Brand http://bradblog.com/?p=12191 On today's BradCast, given the reports that Donald Trump is now personally being investigated for obstruction of justice, we unpack the chaos that may soon come about if the Deputy Attorney General is forced to recuse himself (or is fired) from overseeing the Special Counsel's probe of Team Trump. [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

    But, while all the madness of the DoJ's Trump investigations are going on, Senate Republicans indicated today that they will call for a vote on their secret Obamacare replacement bill before the July 4th recess next week. They also announced they will have the votes needed for passage. If they are right, the results are likely be devastating for millions of Americans, and not only the poor. One of out three elderly Americans in nursing homes, for example, rely on Medicaid to cover the costs, and the GOP is about to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the program in exchange for massive tax cuts for the wealthy.

    We discuss that and, as record heat blasts the Western US, the unbelievably stupid explanation for climate change just offered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry (it's not CO2, he says, it's "the ocean waters and this environment that we live in"!) We also offer a very quick preview of the U.S. House Special Elections being held today on 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machines in BOTH Georgia and South Carolina. (We'll have full results, whatever they are reported to be, on tomorrow's show).

    Then we're joined by attorney, author, columnist and UNH asst. professor SETH ABRAMSON to step through his recent 50 tweet(!) tweetstorm detailing the 'bedlam' that is likely to ensue when and if (he insists "when") Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein is forced to recuse himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of Team Trump and, reportedly, obstruction of justice by the President himself in his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

    The chain of events that could come about as the result of Rosenstein's recusal, as Abramson details on the show today, are amazing and could lead to a very real Constitutional Crisis and even completely separate obstruction of justice charges against Trump based on an entirely different investigation related to his February mass firing of all of the US Attorneys.

    Lots of somewhat jaw-dropping 'bedlam' unpacked and explained and to be absorbed in detail on this front on today's show, including whether or not Rosenstein himself could come under investigation; who the next officials in line are to take his place (first, a friend of Ted Cruz' named Rachel Brand, then a man named Dana Boente) and what their conflicts are; how Trump could personally come to appoint the person overseeing the Special Counsel's investigation after we go through Brand and Boente; and why, if sitting Presidents cannot be indicted, as many argue, Mueller would be carrying out a criminal obstruction of justice investigation of Trump in the first place.

    "Honestly, If I were to lay out the full complexity of the situation right now at the DoJ, which goes well beyond the question of Rachel Brand possibly becoming the Acting AG in the very near term, it would take --- and I am not exaggerating --- probably about 500 tweets," Abramson tells me. "We are in so many unprecedented situations and sub-situations at the DoJ, it is bewildering even for attorneys," he says, adding later: "This is the most complex and public litigation of probably the last 100 years in American political history."

    Finally today, another heartbreaking story of yet another immigrant victim of Trump's, now facing deportation and separation from his family despite spending months in the clean-up efforts at Ground Zero after 9/11...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    * * *
    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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    ]]> http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12191 'Green News Report' - June 20, 2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12190 http://bradblog.com/?p=12190#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 18:09:47 +0000 Desi Doyen Arizona North Korea Environment Michigan Oil Climate change Extreme weather NASA Water Rick Snyder Native Americans Dakota Access Pipeline NOAA http://bradblog.com/?p=12190

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record heat wave scorches Western U.S.; New criminal indictments in the Flint Water Crisis; Massive wildfire in Portugal kills more than 60; May 2017 was second, or third, hottest May ever recorded; PLUS: A court victory and major environmental award for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

    Link:
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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): CNBC allows Rick Perry to spout nonsense on live TV; Bitter scientific debate erupts over the future of America's power grid; Big Oil joins organization calling for a carbon tax; Scientists report nearly-unheard of Antarctic melt event; PA Supreme Court rules oil and gas royalties from public lands must be used for conservation; U.S. electric grid experts say no cyberattacks in 2016, but still cause for concern; Hundreds of scientists call for ban on anti-bacterial chemicals; Fish are migrating north, away from warmer waters; Once rare, wildfires increasing across Great Plains; Houston fears rising sea levels; Atlantic salmon population continues to decline... PLUS: Exxon makes a biofuel breakthrough... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

    For a comprehensive roundup of daily environmental news you can trust, see the Society of Environmental Journalists' Daily Headlines page

    • A bitter scientific debate just erupted over the future of America's power grid (Washington Post):
      Scientists are engaged in an increasingly bitter and personal feud over how much power the United States can get from renewable sources, with a large group of researchers taking aim at a popular recent paper that claimed the country could move beyond fossil fuels entirely by 2055.
    • CNBC allows Rick Perry to spout nonsense on live TV without any fact checking
      Even Fox News has debunked this.
      (Climate Progress):

      Ironically, when EPA chief Scott Pruitt defended his absurd claim that CO2 is not "a primary contributor to the global warming that we see" on Fox News Sunday in early April, anchor Chris Wallace rebuked him: "Mr. Pruitt, there are all kinds of studies that contradict you."..The media should remember that the next time someone on team Trump tries to blow smoke in their face.
    • Exxon, Shell, and BP joined a Republican-led council that proposes to put a $40 carbon tax on emissions (Climate Progress):
      "Buried in pages of supposedly 'free market' solutions is a new regulation exempting polluters from facing legal consequences for their role in fueling climate change," Greenpeace's Naomi Ages said in a statement. "ExxonMobil will try to dress this up as climate activism, but its key agenda is protecting executives from legal accountability for climate pollution and fraud."
    • Scientists Saw a Nearly Unheard of Antarctic Meltdown (Climate Central):
      Antarctica is unfreezing. In the past few months alone, researchers have chronicled a seasonal waterfall, widespread networks of rivers and melt ponds and an iceberg the size of Delaware on the brink of breaking away from the thawing landscape.
    • PA Supreme Court rules state forest gas royalty transfers unconstitutional (Pittsburgh Post_Gazette):
      The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that royalties from oil and gas leases on state forest land must be dedicated to conservation of the Commonwealth's public natural resources, not used for general budgetary purposes...does not give the state government a right to spend proceeds from the sale of publicly owned oil and gas for non-conservation purposes, even if they are generally in the public good.
    • A U.S. Grid Clear Of 2016 Attacks Is Hardly Worry-Free — NERC (E&E News):
      The North American Electric Reliability Corp., in its 'State of Reliability 2017' report, noted there were no cybersecurity attacks that took down parts of the U.S. grid in 2016, but NERC officials took little comfort in the conclusion.
    • Exxon Makes a Biofuel Breakthrough (Bloomberg):
      It’s the holy grail for biofuel developers hoping to coax energy out of algae: Keep the organism fat enough to produce oil but spry enough to grow quickly. J. Craig Venter, the scientist who mapped the human genome, just helped Exxon Mobil Corp. strike that balance, with a breakthrough that could enable widespread commercialization of algae-based biofuels.
    • Feeling the Heat: How Fish Are Migrating from Warming Waters (Yale e3260:
      Steadily rising ocean temperatures are forcing fish to abandon their historic territories and move to cooler waters. The result is that fishermen’s livelihoods are being disrupted, as fisheries regulators scramble to incorporate climate change into their planning.
    • Hundreds of Scientists Call For Caution On Anti-Microbial Chemical Use (Environmental Health News):
      More than 200 scientists outline a broad range of concerns for triclosan and triclocarban and call for reduced use worldwide ". "Two ingredients used in thousands of products to kill bacteria, fungi and viruses linger in the environment and pose a risk to human health, according to a statement released today by more than 200 scientists and health professionals.
    • Wildfires, Once Rare In Great Plains, More Than Triple In 30 Years (Washington Post):
      The grasslands of U.S. Great Plains have seen one of the sharpest increases in large and dangerous wildfires in the past three decades, with their numbers more than tripling between 1985 and 2014, according to new research.
    • Houston Fears Climate Change Will Cause Catastrophic Flooding (Guardian UK):
      Human activity is worsening the problem in an already rainy area, and there could be damage worthy of a disaster movie if a storm hits the industrial section...“If you can see your crime statistics, shouldn’t you be able to see your flood risk also? And other risks as well, human-induced risks?” he said. The site will be named Buyers Be-Where.
    • New Teflon Toxin Found in North Carolina Drinking Water (The Intercept):
      A persistent and toxic industrial chemical known as GenX has been detected in the drinking water in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in surface waters in Ohio and West Virginia.
    • Conservationists: Imperiled Atlantic Salmon Decline Worsens (AP):
      Fewer of North America's Atlantic salmon are making it back to rivers to spawn, which bodes poorly for the future of the imperiled fish, an international conservation group says.
    • Energy Department Closes Office Working on Climate Change Abroad (NY Times):
      The Energy Department is closing an office that works with other countries to develop clean energy technology, another sign of the Trump administration’s retreat on climate-related activities after its withdrawal from the Paris agreement this month.
    • UN Announces 23 New Nature Reserves While U.S. Removes 17 (National Geographic):
      The International Coordinating Council of the Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB), meeting this week in Paris, added 23 new sites to the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR), a program of the United Nations.
    • Mayor of sinking island defends Trump as not 'really a sea level rise guy' (Climate Progress):
      Trump called the mayor of Tangier Island to reassure him that he "believes" the island will withstand sea level rise and erosion.
    • A reactor in Idaho could change the future of nuclear energy - if it survives Trump's budget (Washington Post):
      But the still-nascent technology faces a threat: President Trump's budget would not renew the expiring grant that the Energy Department is using to help fund the project as it goes through a lengthy and expensive development phase. So far NuScale, the technology company after whom the project is named, has spent more than $400 million designing its reactor and still has about $600 million more spend through the final push. But even if everything proceeds on schedule, the plant won't produce any power or draw any revenue until 2025.
    • EPA chief exaggerates growth of coal jobs by tens of thousands (Climate Progress):
      Coal mining jobs increased by only a few hundred during first three months of 2017.
    • A beginner's guide to the debate over 100% renewable energy (Vox):
      Clean-energy enthusiasts frequently claim that we can go bigger, that it's possible for the whole world to run on renewables - we merely lack the "political will." So, is it true? Do we know how get to an all-renewables system? Not yet. Not really.
    • No country on Earth is taking the 2 degree climate target seriously (Vox):
      If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • NASA Video: If we don't act, here's what to expect in the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    http://bradblog.com/?feed=rss2&p=12190
    GA's Unverifiable E-Vote System Passwords, Voter Database, More, Found on Unsecured Server: 'BradCast' 6/19/2017 http://bradblog.com/?p=12189 http://bradblog.com/?p=12189#comments Tue, 20 Jun 2017 01:47:57 +0000 Brad Friedman Diebold/Premier Election Irregularities Election Reform Georgia BRAD BLOG Media Appearance War On Terror Virginia Election Fraud National Security Touch-Screen Vote Flipping U.S. House U.S. Senate Barack Obama Health Care Democrats Republicans KPFK Donald Trump Russia U.K. Election 2016 Syria BradCast Religion Claire McCaskill Election 2017 Jon Ossoff War Powers Act Karen Handel http://bradblog.com/?p=12189 On today's BradCast, another blockbuster report confirms vulnerabilities in our nation's voting systems that I've been trying to warn about for more than a decade, and several other stories not receiving the dire attention merited this week. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]

    In advance of Tuesday's highly contested U.S. House Special Election in Georgia's 6th Congressional District --- the most expensive House race in U.S. history --- Politico Magazine's Kim Zetter offers an absolutely chilling bombshell of a report headlined "Will the Georgia Special Election Get Hacked?" She reports that gigabytes of unsecured data --- including passwords for e-voting system central tabulators, voter registration databases and much more were kept on a wholly unsecured web server, potentially for years, at Kennesaw State University's Center for Election Systems.

    The KSU Center, as they describe on their website, was "created and charged with the responsibility of ensuring the integrity of voting systems in Georgia" since the state adopted its statewide, 100% unverifiable Diebold touch-screen voting system in 2002. Those same machines are still used there today, despite their age (they run on a version of Windows 2000) and massive, well-documented vulnerabilities to hacking and insider manipulation. Nonetheless, the Center for Election Systems has long been cited as a model for election administration by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and is responsible for the security and programming of every 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system, computerized central tabulator, and electronic pollbook used across the state of Georgia.

    The unsecured data files at Kennesaw, according to Zetter, were discovered prior to last year's Presidential Election and reported to the Center, but were still available online for download without a password at the beginning of March this year, during the run-up to the April primary election in the GA-06 House race. The data may, in fact, have been available there for years, even as Kennesaw's Executive Director Merle King, who has spent years testifying in court on behalf of Diebold's systems, reportedly failed to inform GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp about the breach last year after he was informed of it. In fact, Zetter notes that he warned the outside computer security researcher who discovered it not to inform the state. GA's former Sec. of State, Karen Handel, is the Republican House candidate in the reportedly very tight GA-06 race against Democrat Jon Ossoff and is said to have repeatedly blocked a security analysis of the Center years earlier while serving as the state's chief election official.

    When the results of the House contest are announced on Tuesday night --- whichever party's candidate is declared the winner --- it will be virtually impossible to know if the results are accurate or if even one vote cast on GA's 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems were recorded as per any voter's intent.

    While many of the vulnerabilities in GA's terrible voting and tabulation systems have been publicly known for years, the fact that the security at Kennesaw's Center for Elections is even far worse than ever imagined is both new and absolutely chilling in regard to both Georgia elections, and all others across the country, as I explain in detail on today's program.

    Beyond that nightmarish report today, we also cover two different fatal attacks on Muslims over the past 24 hours, one in London and one in Virginia (and Donald Trump's failure to comment on either of them); The new Democratic strategy to slow down progress on the Obamacare replacement bill being crafted by Senate Republicans in complete secrecy, without public hearings or amendments in advance of a possible floor vote on the controversial legislation before the July 4th recess; And, the U.S. shoots down a Syrian bomber over Syria in violation of international law and without any authorization (or complaint or debate) from Congressional Republicans or Democrats alike, even as the weekend incident has drawn the wrath and potential targeting of U.S. aircraft over Syria by its ally Russia...

    Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    Several other recent programs in The BradCast's series of reports leading up to the GA-06 U.S. House Special Election:

    • 4/4/2017: Computer and e-voting expert Barbara Simons on the initial reports of a "massive breach" of the state voter database files at Kennesaw State University
    • 5/8/2017: Garland Favorito of election watchdog VoterGA.org on the group's disturbing analysis of the central computer tabulator failure on the night of the April primary in GA-06.
    • 6/6/2017: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks on her lawsuit demanding hand-counted paper ballots in the GA-06 race.
    • 6/12/2017: Diebold document whistleblower Steven Heller on Diebold caught lying in California in 2004 about the exact same machines still used in Georgia in 2017. (CA decertified them after Heller's disclosure.) And on the NSA analysis recently released by NSA contractor Reality Winner on spear-phishing attacks that may have allowed access to the voting system computers of election officials across the country prior to the 2016 Presidential election.

    * * *
    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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