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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, May 18, 2024
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, a 'Smoking Gun', and 'The Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canada's fire season erupts, as smoke chokes U.S. Upper Midwest; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 5/9/24 - 5/7/24 - Archives...
Recount in Tied U.S. House Primary Highlights Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
Facing Down the Threat to American Democracy: 'BradCast' 5/9/24
A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals defenses; Lara lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden cuts off Israel...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Tornado outbreaks across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
Previous GNRs: 5/7/24 - 5/2/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup:
Stormy Takes the Stand: 'BradCast' 5/8/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
New Cybersecurity Breach in Coffee County, GA: 'BradCast' 5/7/24
Guest: Election integrity expert Marilyn Marks; Also: Stormy takes the stand in NY; GA's Republican former Lt. Gov. endorses Biden...
'Green News Report' 5/7/24
Relentless rain, flooding in Houston and Brazil; April 2024 was hottest on record; PLUS: Biden unveils billions for rural clean energy, replacing toxic lead water pipes...
2024 Electoral -- and Climate -- Omens: 'BradCast' 5/6/24
From Britain to Panama to Brazil to Houston; Also: Latest in Israel's war on Gaza and in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Self Reflecting' Toons
THIS WEEK: Champions of 'free speech' ... 'Captain Fascism' ... Kristi 'Dog Gone' Noem... and more, in our latest collection of the week's best political toons...
'Green News Report' 5/2/24
Extreme heat, storms grip Asia; Big brands and Big Plastic; Plastic pollution treaty talks end; PLUS: Congress finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public...
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
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'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...


Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: PA primary results; Biden signs Ukraine aid bill; SCOTUS revisits abortion rights; AZ House Dems repeal 1864 near-total abortion ban...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2024 6:48pm PT  

The court takes Wednesdays off in Donald Trump's New York criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to his use of hush-money paid to a porn star to help him cheat his way to winning the 2016 Presidential election. So, today is a good opportunity for us here on The BradCast to get caught up on our trial story so far with two guests who are following it closely. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, FIRST UP, it was Primary day in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and though the nominations for both major party's Presidential candidates are long ago all but official, the turnout and results from the Keystone State's closed primaries on both sides are somewhat revealing. Tune in for details, but suffice to say, Joe Biden appears to have outperformed Trump in the narrowly divided battleground state yesterday, where Dem turnout outpaced Republicans and Nikki Haley, who quit the race weeks ago, racked up nearly 17% of the GOP Presidential vote. There were several U.S. House races of note and uncontested primaries for this year's critical U.S. Senate race in PA, where incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is taking on billionaire hedge-fund manager Dave McCormick (who has been less than forthright about his upbringing.)

President Biden signed a long-overdue $61 billion aid package for our democratic allies in Ukraine after overwhelming Senate passage on Tuesday night. That followed on the heels of Saturday's passage in the House by Democrats following an about-face by GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson. The package adopted by Congress and signed by the President today is for $95 billion in all, including funding to replenish Israel's missile defense systems following Iran's attack last week, billions of dollars in humanitarian aid in Gaza, and military aid to Taiwan. The bill also includes a ridiculous measure that may result in the popular social media app TikTok being banned in the U.S.

In reproductive rights (or lack thereof) news, the corrupted far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical during heated Oral Argument on Wednesday over a Biden Administration mandate under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The 1986 statute requires hospitals that accept federal medicare funding to offer emergency, life-stabilizing care to all patients who arrive in the emergency room. After SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, the Administration reminded facilities that such care includes abortions when a patient is "in serious jeopardy" or any condition that might impair bodily functions or organs, no matter the state's own restrictions on reproductive care. Idaho disagreed and sued. The packed rightwing supermajority on the High Court was working hard today to side with Idaho.

There was somewhat brighter related news in Arizona on Wednesday when, after three weeks of trying, Democrats in the state's House were finally able to vote to repeal the state's 1864 territorial ban on nearly all abortions. Three Republicans joined all 29 Democrats to repeal the law. The measure still needs passage in the GOP-controlled state Senate, after which AZ's 15-week abortion ban would take the place of the 160-year old near-total ban.

And THEN, we're joined again today our friends award-winning columnist and blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo and former attorney (and former Republican) KEITH BARBER of Daily Kos to get up to speed on this week's fits and starts in Donald J. Trump's New York criminal trial.

After last week's faster-than-expected jury selection, the trial began with Opening Statements on Monday in which prosecutors described Trump's criminal scheme to hide several sexual affairs just before the 2016 election as "election fraud, pure and simple". On Tuesday morning, during a contempt hearing on at least 10 instances in which Defendant Trump violated the court's gag order against attacking jurors and witness, the judge instructed Trump's attorney Todd Blanche that he was "losing all credibility with the court." Says Barber today: "In a list of phrases that could be the worst to come out of a judge's mouth in the first two days of a trial, that would be right at the top of the list."

On both days, shortened for the Passover holidays, David Pecker, former National Enquirer publisher and longtime friend of Trump, took the stand on behalf of the prosecution to discuss hush-money payoffs he'd arranged as part of an alleged conspiracy with Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen to publish damaging stories about Trump's political opponents and quash stories that might be damaging to him. As Pecker detailed, that included paying off a Trump Tower doorman to shut up about his claim that Trump fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a maid who also worked there, and to "catch and kill" the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal who says she carried on a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant.

Parton describes the first witness in this case as offering several ironies since Pecker "said that their little scheme back in 2015 and 2016 was all fake news. Literally fake news. They made up stories. They killed negative stories about Trump and pushed negative stories that were literally fake news about his rivals. It's like gaslighting to the thousandth power."

Pecker's is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday regarding the $130,000 hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which was repaid to Cohen by Trump via monthly installments during his first year in the White House. Those payments became the falsified business records at the center of this trial, as the Trump Organization logged them as legal retainer fees, rather than unreported reimbursements that ran afoul of campaign finance laws, according to prosecutors.

Both Parton and Barber find it curious that, while Trump has been relentless in his attacks on witnesses like his longtime attorney and fixer Cohen, he has not said a negative word about his friend Pecker since the former Enquirer chief signed a cooperation agreement with prosecutors in 2018. She believes there is much more that Pecker knows about Trump above and beyond the scandals he's already detailed in this case. Barber concurs: "There's reason to believe that David Pecker has more of Trump's bodies buried in various places."

Each offer many more thoughts and insights on all of the above, including much more that we've learned over just the first two days of this historic trial, the legal hurdles faced by prosecutors, and what we should expect in the days ahead...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Trump NY criminal trial update; Also: SCOTUS nixes Lake's 2022 fraud claims; WI U.S. Senate candidate 'doesn't oppose' elderly voters; Trump/RNC's 'election integrity' plan; AZ GOP Rep's apparent 'petition fraud'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2024 7:13pm PT  

During opening statements in the disgraced former President's ongoing criminal trial, prosecutors argued the scheme surrounding his hush-money payments to a porn star just before the 2016 election amounted to "election fraud, pure and simple." Similar fraud since then, by Trump and now much of his Republican party, pervades many of our stories on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • It's Primary Day in Pennsylvania. We'll have noteworthy results and/or problem reports on tomorrow's program. (Recent elections in PA have revealed serious problems with the touchscreen voting systems still shamefully used in a number of jurisdictions.) But the election in the Keystone State today --- as some voters are reportedly struggling with newly implemented Photo ID requirements --- also provides a reminder as to why it's a good idea to vote in primaries, even when races at the top of the ticket may already be foregone conclusions.
  • Donald Trump's election-fraud-via-hush-money criminal trial in New York continued on Tuesday. We offer a a few quick updates. One point we missed Monday's opening statements, included the fact that prosecutors say they have hand-written documentation from longtime Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as to why Michael Cohen was paid $420k as reimbursement for his $130k payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Today, the day began with a contempt hearing over at least ten instances in which prosecutors allege that Trump has violated the court's gag order on attacking jurors and witnesses. The judge has yet to issue his ruling, but the hearing culminated with Trump's attorney Todd Blanche being upbraided by a frustrated Justice Juan Merchan, who told him, "You are losing all credibility with the court." For that, it appears, Trump's campaign and associated groups have been paying about $145,000 in donor money for legal fees each day since early 2023, according to newly released numbers. After the jury arrived, the trial's first witness continued his testimony. That would be former National Enquirer publisher, longtime Trump pal, and alleged "catch and kill"/hush-money co-conspirator David Pecker.
  • Arizona's 2022 Republican election losers, Kari Lake and Mark Finchem, both falsely claim their elections, for Governor and Sec. of State respectively, were stolen from them somehow, by the Republican officials who run elections in the state's largest County. They sued in 2022 and have lost in court after court ever since. On Monday, the corrupted rightwing U.S. Supreme Court also rejected their case. They are both running again in 2024, for U.S. Senate and state Senate respectively. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Speaking of 2024 Republican U.S. Senate candidates in battleground states, Wisconsin's Eric Hovde really, really wants you to know that he totally thinks "elderly should absolutely vote". Even after his previous comments about elderly voters in nursing homes that really kinda makes it seem otherwise.
  • The Trump Campaign and the RNC (now effectively one and the same) have announced their plans for an "Historic, 100,000 person strong Election Integrity operation"! We've got a few thoughts about what that really means. Though it probably doesn't help that a statement from Trump himself included in the announcement echoes almost precisely a statement long attributed to Josef Stalin that "it's not who votes that matters, but who counts the votes".
  • As to actual election fraud, as usual, the call is coming from inside the Republican house. This time, it's a guy named Austin Smith, an Arizona's Republican state Rep. and top leader of Turning Point Action --- a group which has long echoed Trump's false 2020 election fraud claims. Smith has apparently been caught submitting dozens of signatures, in his own hand-writing, for his own reelection campaign. While denying the charges, now being investigated by the AZ Attorney General, Rep. Smith has since resigned from Turning Point and called off his reelection campaign. But really, he insists, he didn't do it!
  • Finally, Desi Doyen is here for our latest Green News Report, including today: news on Europe's stunning rate of warming; new details on the plastic manufacturing industries contribution to man-made climate change; and another series of sweeping actions from the Biden Administration on Solar for All, the American Climate Corps and a whole bunch of brand new conservation initiatives that I can almost bet you haven't heard about until now...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Labor journalist Steven Greenhouse; Also: House finally passes aid package for Ukraine; Prosecutors accuse Trump of 'election fraud' in NY criminal trial opening statement...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2024 6:05pm PT  

Nothing but huge news --- all of several different sorts --- on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST UP: After months of stalling to the benefit of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and our wannabe dictator former President, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, to his credit, bucked the majority of his own caucus and reversed course last week on Ukraine. The full reason for his sudden about-face remains unclear --- and a majority of his own party still voted against aid to our besieged democratic allies in Europe --- but whatever the reason, it is very good news for both Ukraine and global democracy. The full Democratic caucus in the House backed Johnson's plan to adopt some $95 billion in military, humanitarian and economy aid to Ukraine, Israel (including more than $9 billion in assistance to residents of Gaza), Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies. Far-right House Republicans derided the legislation as "America Last" aid to foreign wars and have been threatening to invoke another motion to vacate the Speaker's chair. So far, however, they've failed to pull the trigger.

NEXT UP: The first criminal trial of a former (and perhaps future) U.S. President got underway for reals on Monday in New York, with opening statements presented by both sides in what Prosecutors are characterizing as a 2016 "election fraud" via hush-money case against Donald J. Trump. We step through the opening presentations of each side's case today. NY prosecutors detailed how they intend to demonstrate that Trump, in a panic following the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where he boasted about assaulting women, took measures just before the 2016 election to pay off women he was alleged to have had affairs with, including Playboy Model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The schemes to silence the women, according to state prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, were carried out via an elaborate conspiracy between Trump, his then attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, and then publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker. The plot involved 34 allegedly falsified business transactions --- including checks signed by Trump while serving in the White House --- disguised as legal retainers to Cohen, rather than reimbursement money for hush-money payments. The Trump Organization couldn’t cut a check to Cohen with the memo "reimbursement for porn star payoff," so "they agreed to cook the books," said Colangelo, to make the payments appear to be for legal services.

The Enquirer produced what prosecutors described as "checkbook journalism" on Trump's behalf to "catch and kill" McDougal's story of a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant in 2006. And Cohen paid Daniels directly in exchange for signing a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from revealing her 2006 tryst with Trump while Melania was nursing their infant son. "He covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again," Colangelo told the jury, detailing what he characterized as "election fraud, pure and simple."

In Trump's defense, his attorney Todd Blanche made the case that none of the actions described by prosecutors are crimes. "I have a spoiler alert," he told the jury, "there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy."

Prosecutors called Pecker as their first witness on Monday, but the court session was cut short on due to a dental emergency for one of the jurors and a planned early finish to the day due to the Jewish Passover holiday. Pecker is set to return to the stand for the prosecution on Tuesday.

FINALLY: The story that (understandably, given the above) is not getting nearly the attention it deserves today. On Friday, by an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to unionize by joining the United Auto Workers. The landmark vote came after a full-court press against it the day before the unionization election was to begin last Wednesday, via an unprecedented joint statement by six Republican southern state Governors. TN's Gov. Bill Lee and the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas warned in the statement against workers voting to join the union, charging that it would result in jobs leaving the state.

Nonetheless, VW's workers overwhelmingly approved the historic resolution, in what UAW leader Shawn Fain described on Sunday to our guest today, veteran labor journalist and author STEVEN GREENHOUSE of The Guardian, as "the first domino to fall" in what Greenhouse describes as the UAW's "ambitious $40m campaign targeting 13 automakers, including VW, Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai, with a total of 35 non-union plants across the US."

"It's a very big deal," Greenhouse tells me today. "It's a big deal because unions have had a very hard time organizing the South. Indeed, unions and union leaders are often told 'it's impossible to win the South, don't even bother.' Factory-workers are so worried that if they vote to unionize, the plant will close and move overseas. So this victory really bursts the citadel, breaks down the tradition of all these losses in the South. This finally shows you can win."

In fact, two previous efforts to unionize the same VW plant failed some 10 and 15 years ago. But now, post-pandemic and, most notably, with the rise and inspiration of the UAW's new, charismatic leader Fain, there is renewed action and optimism. "This gives a lot of momentum, a lot of energy and inspiration to autoworkers, and I think to the larger labor movement," says Greenhouse, the author of several books on the subject including his latest, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

We discuss, among other things today: why this effort at VW succeeded where previous votes failed; how unprecedented the statement was from those six southern Governors (In Greenhouse's interview with Fain on Sunday, the labor leader called them "liars" and "puppets for corporate America" that "don't give a damn about working-class people...even though workers are the ones who elect them."); how the unionization in the auto industry may inspire similar efforts by workers in other industries for the first time in man years; whether the UAW will actually be able to unionize Tesla, as led by the very anti-union Elon Musk, as well as the other non-union plants being targeted by the UAW around the country, following their wildly successful strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers last year.

One of those targeted non-union plants belongs to Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama where workers are scheduled to hold a unionization vote next month. If both VW and Mercedes are unionized, as Greenhouse reported a Georgetown labor historian observing last week, it would "be nothing less than an earthquake [and] the biggest breakthrough in private-sector organizing in decades."

As noted, some pretty huge news on today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Special coverage of an historic day with Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2024 5:11pm PT  

After a number of quick news headline since our previous BradCast last week, it's on to the biggest story of the day: the first day of the first criminal trial of a former U.S. President. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Of course, the nation has never seen anything like it. I might suggest we'd otherwise be unlikely to see anything like it again in our lifetimes, but for the fact that the trial on 34 felony counts against Donald J. Trump that began in New York on Monday is just the first of four criminal trials awaiting the disgraced former President and presumptive Republican Party nominee for the 2024 Presidential election.

Jury selection finally got underway late on Monday after a series of pretrial arguments in the indictment brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. It alleges that that Trump created a series of fraudulent business records with the intent to hide a $130,000 hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels just weeks prior to the 2016 Presidential election. The payment was made amid Trump's panic in the wake of the release of the Access Hollywood videotape in the closing days of the 2016 race, during which Trump is heard bragging about sexually assaulting women.

Then, while serving as President of the United States, Trump signed and sent monthly payments to his then personal attorney/fixer Michael Cohen to reimburse him for the payment to Daniels on Trump's behalf, as well as for several hundred thousand additional dollars for Cohen's efforts.

The payments were meant to prevent Daniels from discussing a sexual affair she says she had with Trump ten years earlier, while Trump's wife Melania was nursing their newborn son.

The payments, according to Federal Elections Commission (FEC) findings, violated federal campaign finance laws which, Bragg alleges, changes the charges for Trump's falsified business records from misdemeanors to felonies. Thirty-four of them, in fact, all in service of cheating to win the 2016 election. Bragg describes the scheme --- just as Trump would, had a Democratic candidate done anything even close to it --- as "election interference".

We're joined today for special coverage of the legal, political and cultural significance of this historic day by two longtime friends of the program: Award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and her Hullaballoo blog, and former attorney and former lifelong Republican KEITH BARBER, who now covers legal and constitutional issues as "KeithDB" for the progressive Daily Kos website.

Both offer explanations of the alleged crimes themselves and their insights on the Prosecution's witness list, which includes, among many others, Cohen and Daniels as well as Playboy model Karen McDougal --- who is said to have carried out a year-long sexual dalliance with Trump during Melania's pregnancy --- and David Pecker, the head of the company which owned the National Enquirer in 2016. Pecker has since admitted to buying McDougal's story to make it go away --- a so-called "Catch and Kill" scheme --- on behalf of Trump, his longtime friend.

Barber details some of the complexities of the NY criminal case and how unusual it is for prosecutors to call some 6,000 potential jurors. Parton discusses the historic, political and cultural ramifications of this trial. Both offer thoughts on the likelihood that Trump ends up spending time in jail, either for the crimes themselves, which could result in a sentence of up to four years, or for violating the gag order placed on Trump by the trial judge, Justice Juan Merchan, after Trump has spent weeks attacking potential witnesses and the judge's family. Prosecutors charged today that Trump violated the gag order three times over this past weekend alone. A hearing on that matter will be held next Wednesday, April 24 Tuesday, April 23.

"It is a shocking, unprecedented moment to see an ex-President --- and current nominee for one of the major parties for President --- whining like a 5-year-old every five minutes about being politically persecuted because he committed the crime of paying hush money to an adult film actress, and in the process of doing that, violated New York state law," Parton argues. "And motivated at the time in order to win an election. What he keeps calling 'election interference' is actually true."

Barber notes that what Trump continues to complain about "a two-tiered system of justice", which somehow disadvantages HIM. That might be true, Barber suggests, "if Trump did not face the same justice that Michael Cohen did for being his co-conspirator in all of this, and really doing the same thing." Cohen served a year in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in the criminal conspiracy "directed" by Trump the then-President. "This is an equalization of justice. Bringing this case to trial is saying, 'Look, the guy who Cohen helped is also going to be held accountable.' And I think it's a triumph for justice that that is going to be happening."

As you might guess, there is a lot to cover on this historic first day of Trump's first criminal trial. And, as shameful as it all is, we also find the time for more than a few laughs along the way during today's Special Coverage...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Salon's Heather Digby Parton, Pro Left Podcast's 'Driftglass'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2023 5:12pm PT  

At long last. Criminal accountability for a U.S. President finally begins on today's BradCast Special Coverage. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Donald J. Trump surrendered to law enforcement on Tuesday in downtown Manhattan. He was arrested, booked and arraigned in New York State Supreme Court on 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.

The crimes were carried out, according to a statement released by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, "in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election."

As detailed in the 16-page indictment [PDF] and 13-page statement of facts [PDF] unsealed this afternoon, the charges relate to a conspiracy by the disgraced, twice-impeached former President and others to employ a "'catch and kill' scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects."

In one case detailed by the prosecutors, he allegedly worked with American Media Inc. (AMI), the publishers of the National Inquirer, to pay $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman to quash the man's claims that Trump had a child out of wedlock. In another, Trump is said to have worked with the same company to pay $150,000 to Playboy Model Karen McDougal to silence her about a sexual relationship they had. And, in yet another scheme Trump, he had his then attorney, Michael Cohen, pay $130,000 hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels just 12 days before the 2016 election.

Trump then issued nearly a dozen checks over the following year --- 9 of them personally signed --- while serving in the Oval Office, in a scheme to keep it all quiet. He allegedly made false entries in his business records to describe the payments as fees for legal services and "took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the reimbursements," according to the D.A.

During his arraignment before New York's Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, Trump pleaded Not Guilty to all charges.

We're joined today by some of our favorite BradCast Special Coverage panelists, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and founder of Digby's Hullabaloo blog, and "DRIFTGLASS", otherwise known as @Mr_Electrico on Twitter and as simply Bill at home in Illinois, where he has long produced The Professional Left Podcast.

All of us, long time progressive bloggers who have written and discussed the need for accountability for criminal Presidents for many years. Without it, each one --- specifically Republican Presidents --- have subsequently become more criminal than the last, from Richard Nixon through Ronald Reagan through both George Bushes until the system produced the most criminal of them all, Donald J. Trump.

Until now, our decades of calls for accountability have gone unmet. But today, for the first time, as we all seem to agree, accountability may finally be beginning to help right a system that has gone so horribly wrong in recent decades --- at unspeakable cost to both the nation and the world.

"We've seen one scandal after another of real, serious corruption on the part of these Republican leaders," notes Digby today. "If we are not able to get some accountability, some way for the system to right itself, I really worry that we are definitely goners. This is way, way too important. It's not just Stormy Daniels. It's that this guy feels he is unaccountable to the law."

"It's not just that [Trump] feels entitled," adds Driftglass. "It's also that Republican voters believe he's entitled to get away with murder. That's the scary part. There are 70 million plus Americans out there who think, 'Yeah, he's corrupt. Sure, he's done terrible things. But he should get away with it because we're Republicans, and that's our natural right.'"

Today we discuss what all of this means; some of today's charges; the special treatment received by Trump (despite the Manhattan D.A.'s website claim of "One Standard of Justice for All"); the former President's social media tantrums; the limp response to his indictment from his supporters; and what comes next in the accountability storm we are likely to see over the next several weeks and months.

Also today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with several items of good news to end today's happier-than-usual BradCast!...

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Trump Admin cutting nuclear reactor safety inspections, killing scientific analyses, hollowing out agencies from Interior to USDA, more; Also: Feds end Trump hush-money conspiracy probe, release damning docs...
By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2019 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover a number of disturbing new stories highlighting how Donald Trump's Administration --- while everyone is distracted by his is obnoxious, racist tweets and occasionally by his felonious criminal behavior --- is absolutely hollowing out the U.S. Government to the detriment of public safety and the cheers of industry special interests. Oh, and we cover some of his criminal behavior as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is now cutting back on safety inspections for the nation's 90-plus nuclear reactors, along with legal notices that previously had to be given to the public regarding plant safety issues. The nuclear industry, facing stiff competition from cleaner, cheaper, safer renewable energy, is applauding the "cost cutting" (some would say safety cutting) measures. Public interest groups are very concerned;
  • Out in California, where, last October, Donald Trump issued an executive order to force more water to be released from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Northern California down to farmers in the state's agriculturally rich Central Valley after years of demands by the powerful agricultural industry, the administration has paused the process just days before what was to have been a legally mandated scientific analysis of potential harm to endangered species such as salmon and delta smelt. An investigative report from Northern California's KQED finds the administration is replacing biologists from two federal agencies, NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who had spent months preparing a "biological opinion", as required by law, with a team of attorneys and so-called experts in policy and regulations from outside the state. Apparently, the Administration didn't like the findings by the actual government biologists, so have paused the process for two months to allow an entirely new analysis Bureau of Reclamation's water plan by hand-picked ringers;
  • At the same time that the Interior Department is undermining their own scientists on the California project, the Department's Bureau of Land Management is planning to move its headquarters from D.C. to Grand Junction, CO, along with hundreds of federal employees, including many senior managers, who will either be forced to move or retire. The planned hollowing out of the BLM comes with little public notice or explanation, and echoes a similar recent move by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which is forcing hundreds of the agency's top scientists to either pick up and move to a new headquarters in Kansas City, or be let go. Most of those USDA scientists are reportedly unwilling to uproot their lives and families to make the move. Similar processes, according to Washington Post, are said to have resulted in thousands of civil service jobs being cut at the Departments of Labor, Education, and Housing and Urban Development to name a few, as the Trump Administration continues to gut the U.S. Government (well, all but the Defense Department, where they have added jobs) at the expense of public safety and to the benefit of industrial profit motives;
  • Then, we move to some of those Trump crimes mentioned earlier. A federal judge in Manhattan ordered the release today of previously redacted files regarding Trump's illegal hush-money payoffs to two women with whom he is said to have had affairs before his election as President. The judge's order comes after federal prosecutors indicated they had suddenly ended investigations into the Trump Organization and Trump himself regarding the payoff scheme in the campaign finance felony conspiracy for which Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen is now serving time in federal prison. Both Cohen and federal prosecutors, when Cohen pleaded guilty, had said the conspiracy was "directed" by Trump himself. The newly unredacted documents underscore Trump's involvement in the conspiracy both before and after his election, as well as those of others in his campaign, such as longtime Trump aid and then Communications Director Hope Hicks. Setting aside the entirely of the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller --- and the 10 or so instances of unlawful obstruction of justice detailed in his report --- this hush-money matter alone is more than enough to merit impeachment and removal from office (not to mention federal prosecution). At least it would be for any other President --- or if there were real leadership among Democrats in Congress;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as much of the country will be sweltering for days under the latest, dangerous, climate change-fueled heatwave, and with more on the Trump Administration's latest plans to hollow out protections against pollution and the ability for local authorities to have a say in the matter. You didn't need all of that forest land near you to be saved from clear cutting by the logging industry anyway, right?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: WI's Walker signs power grab bills; MI's Snyder undermines voters; NC's GOP Election Fraud scandal spreads to new district; ME's RCV hand-count ends early...
By Brad Friedman on 12/14/2018 6:47pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Lock him up! Plus a whole bunch of November 6 midterm fallout, follow-up and fraud. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Yes, despite his many desperate and ever-shifting attempts to explain (lie) his way out of it, all evidence demonstrates that Donald Trump quite clearly committed a major, indictable, campaign finance felony in his hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he had had sexual affairs. We're joined today by longtime campaign finance expert CRAIG HOLMAN of Public Citizen for a very sober, clear, point-by-point explanation of Trump's apparent crime in this matter and what can (or, at least should) be done about it.

Holman methodically debunks each of Trump's various claims --- offered via both Fox "News" and on Twitter --- in the wake of the criminal sentencing in federal court on Wednesday, of his longtime personal attorney and "fixer" Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty for, among other things, facilitating the illicit, covert payoff scheme "directed" by Trump to cover up the trysts so they wouldn't adversely effect his 2016 election chances. Holman elaborates on how any other elected federal official would "absolutely" be indicted for the exact same unlawful scheme.

"Every other government official is subject to the laws of the nation, just like you and I. And we have seen many members of Congress, for instance, and other Executive Branch officials face indictment, prosecution and even imprisonment for this type of felony behavior," he tells me.

The only thing preventing similar accountability for Trump, Holman argues, is the controversial opinion from the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) which states that a sitting President may not be indicted on criminal charges. But, Holman says, citing recent arguments from Richard Nixon's former counsel John Dean, that's precisely what the U.S. Constitution's 25th Amendment was already designed to handle.

"The entire rationale behind [the OLC opinion] it is that indicting a President would incapacitate the Executive Branch, and therefore you just can't indict a sitting President," he says. But "we've got the 25th Amendment in the Constitution, and that sets up an entire transition period if the President becomes incapacitated. So there is no incapacitation. We know the transition. So the president should be subject to indictment."

Beyond the protection of the OLC opinion, Holman notes one very narrow potential argument that Trump might otherwise be able to use to avoid try and avoid legal accountability. But, he concludes, "The evidence is overwhelming that our President committed a felony."

In other news today, Wisconsin's rejected Republican Gov. Scott Walker signed a sweeping host of bills --- adopted with lightning speed by the gerrymandered GOP state legislature in an extraordinary lame duck session --- designed to undermine the Executive powers of incoming Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers, and Attorney General-elect Josh Kaul, as well as the state's voters. At least one lawsuit in response has already been announced to challenge the new provision that restricts Early Voting in the state. A similar provision was ruled unconstitutional by the federal courts in 2016 (as we discussed recently with the plaintiff in that case.)

In Michigan, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, also soon to be replaced by a Democrat, signed several bills on Friday that similarly undermine voters.

In North Carolina -- where Republicans invented these very types of unprecedented lame duck power grabs back in 2016 --- the GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal that has, so far, prevented the certification of Republican Mark Harris' reported 905-vote "victory" over Democrat Dan McCready in the state's 9th Congressional District, may be spreading to a completely different U.S. House District. In Columbus County, in the state's 7th CD, there was reportedly an even larger percentage of mysteriously unreturned absentee ballots from Democratic voters than that which originally sparked the 9th CD's ongoing election fraud probe. In Columbus, a Republican candidate for Sheriff is said to have unseated the Democrat Sheriff by by just 37 votes after hiring the same GOP contractor at the center of the NC9 absentee ballot fraud allegations. As we've been reporting, evidence revealed during the ongoing investigation in NC9 will, almost certainly at this point, result in a new U.S. House election there.

Finally today, in Maine, incumbent Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin saw his Constitutional challenge to the state's new Ranked Choice Voting system rejected by a Trump-appointed federal judge on Thursday. On Friday, he called off the ongoing hand-count he had requested in his 2nd Congressional District race. Poliquin, after winning the most votes in the first computer tally by more than 2,200 votes, failed to win a majority. In the next round of counting, after voters' second place choices were redistributed to other candidates according to the computerized RCV algorithm now used to tally ballots in the state, Democrat Jared Golden was declared the winner of the November 6th contest. The complicated RCV hand-count began last week and, until ended by Poliquin today, was otherwise expected to continue for several more weeks. The outgoing Republicans says he is still mulling an appeal to the federal court ruling.

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: New revelations in NC-9 GOP election fraud scandal all but guarantee a new election will be coming...
By Brad Friedman on 12/12/2018 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Trump appears now to be in very big trouble. So do Republicans in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District. But President Obama's Affordable Care Act soldiers on, even as signups are down as the open enrollment period for 2019 on the federal HealthCare.gov exchange quietly nears its close on Saturday, December 15th.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump's former personal lawyer and 'fixer' Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and some $2 million in fines after cooperating with federal prosecutors following guilty pleas to several felonies in August. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team noted that Cohen has been helpful in their probe of Trump's still-unexplained relationship with Russia, but it was the charges brought by federal prosecutors against Cohen in New York's Southern District related to hush-money payoffs to women with whom Trump was said to have had sexual affairs that most immediately appears to cook Trump's goose.

Both Cohen and the federal government now allege that Trump, in the waning days of the 2016 campaign, "directed" a conspiracy to pay off the women in order to buy their silence in an illicit scheme to "influence the election". Those payoffs of $130,000 to porn actress Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal (via National Enquirer publisher AMI) are considered illegal campaign contributions.

Also on Wednesday, prosecutors announced a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, run by longtime Trump pal David Pecker, in exchange for their cooperation in the case. As discussed on today's show, Trump now appears to be in very VERY big trouble, at this point. If the man who helped make the payoffs at Trump's "direction" --- who had also cooperated with investigators --- received three years in prison for his crimes, imagine what may happen to the man who actually directed the conspiracy.

While there are still a number of potential escape hatches such as the Presidential pardon power for Trump, his associates, his family members and his businesses, a new interview with incoming New York state Attorney General-elect Letitia James suggests she has that base covered as well. James says she intends to "use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well" at the state level, including "anyone" in his circle who may have violated state law. Trump's businesses and campaign are based in New York. James tells NBC she intends to bring state charges in an attempt to ensure Trump, his associates, his family and his various organizations are unable to evade accountability with Presidential pardons at the federal level.

In North Carolina, meanwhile, fresh revelations continue to emerge regarding the 9th Congressional District election which is at the center of an ongoing GOP absentee ballot election fraud scandal. New details in that matter today include the state Republican Party's admission that a new election will most likely be needed, following news this week that Early Voting results in Bladen County were reportedly leaked, illegally, in advance of the November 6th election.

Moreover, a new affidavit from a Republican now charges that McCrae Dowless, the GOP contractor hired by Republican Mark Harris to run his absentee ballot campaign in Bladen, where the fraud scheme appears centered, told him that he (unlawfully) had as many as 800 absentee ballots in his possession prior to the election. What came of those ballots we don't yet know, but Harris is said to have defeated Democrat Dan McCready by just 905 votes in the 9th District last month. At this point, I see no way that a new election in the district can be avoided, other than simply naming McCready the winner.

Also today, we're joined by ALICE OLLSTEIN, formerly of Talking Points Memo, now a congressional reporter at Politico, to discuss the nearly 10 percent drop off in signups this year for the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), as the federal open enrollment period comes to a close this weekend. "It's not high prices that are deterring people," Ollstein argues, citing a key piece of data to back that up, before explaining the several different reasons why signups are down this year so far, and how that may affect the future stability of the federal exchanges.

With Democrats set to take the majority in the U.S. House in January, Ollstein also details their dilemma in how to best defend against a federal lawsuit brought by several Republican-controlled states (and now supported by the Trump Administration) hoping to kill the landmark ACA and its vital protections for those with preexisting conditions...

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Guest-host Angie Coiro w/ the latest on that and other news; Also: Amber McKinney on DACA; D.D. Guttenplan on a progressive future...
By Angie Coiro on 11/9/2018 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast, I’m in for Brad and Desi today – Angie Coiro, of In Deep with Angie Coiro.

My guests are AMBER McKINNEY, from Law360, discussing the DACA ruling from the 9th circuit and Trump’s latest royal edicts on immigration; and D.D. GUTTENPLAN, editor-at-large at The Nation, and author of the new book The Next Republic: The Rise of a New Radical Majority.

Of course, we have to start off with a lovely story: the Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump's been caught red-handed, connected directly to the hush money sent to former mistresses.

Then it's onto the two ongoing big stories: horrific fires in Northern and Southern California, and the elections grinding on in Florida, Arizona, and Georgia. Both the NAACP and a passel of retired generals have weighed in against GOP interference.

A review of the numerous headlines on Trump's efforts to alter immigration policy by presidential proclamation, and his loss in the 9th Circuit court on his efforts to undercut DACA.

A sprinkling of good news (Ruth Bader Ginsberg already back and work! Thousands in the street protecting Mueller!), then D.D. Guttenplan with his new book on revolutionaries rejuvenating our republic.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Trump's dark week gets darker; Dems nix SCOTUS nom meetings; Majority of Repubs support 'Medicare for All'; Very bad polling news for GOP; GA county poll closure scam falls apart; Hurricane Lane threatens Hawaii...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2018 6:30pm PT  

Like the news cycle, we're all over the place on today's BradCast with politics, accountability and corruption news, democracy and voting news, green news and court news and much much more. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the many stories covered today...Some Democratic Senators are now refusing to meet with Donald Trump's U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, following the convictions of Trump's campaign chair Paul Manafort and the guilty pleas of his personal lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, implicating the President himself in a conspiracy to commit serious criminal campaign finance felonies.

On related fronts today: Trump has now finally admitted (after years of lies about it by him and his staff) that he did, in fact, make hush-money payouts to women before the 2016 election; Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis offers more details on what his client may know regarding Trump's early knowledge of hacked DNC emails before they were released in 2016; and Trump's longtime friend David Pecker [pictured above], who runs the National Enquirer and helped kill stories about Trump's mistresses, is reportedly now cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after being granted an immunity deal.

Also, a Trump-supporting juror from the first Manafort trial says there was only one person on the jury who prevented him from being found guilty on all 18 counts of tax and bank fraud, versus the 8 on which he was found guilty. A mistrial was declared on the 10 other counts.

A new Reuters poll today finds that more than 70% of Americans now support a "Medicare for All" styled universal healthcare program, including a majority of Republicans. And a new poll from Fox "News" offers an avalanche of bad news for Trump and Republicans in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. (For example, Mueller is more popular than Trump by double-digits, and other numbers that may spell trouble in November.)

Speaking of which, following a public outcry, Randolph County, Georgia, whose two-person Board of Elections is set to vote on a proposal to close 7 of 9 polling places before the November election in the majority African-American county, now admits it has no evidence to support the claim that those precincts need to be closed due to violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Moreover, it has now fired the consultant --- hired on the recommendation of GA Sec. of State Brian Kemp (the Republican nominee for Governor this year) --- who urged the poll closures at, what he initially said, had been Kemp's recommendation.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report on the Trump EPA's deadly new proposed rule to replace Obama's landmark "Clean Power Plan", the Administration's spate of recent court failures blocking their attempts to overturn environmental protections, and the latest news on Hurricane Lane which is bearing down on Hawaii and threatening record rainfall among other potential dangers which, the Governor warns, could cripple the island for several weeks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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