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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, August 5, 2021
'Green News Report' 8/5/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record heat in Europe accelerates record wildfires; Carbon offsets up in smoke; Shipping co. buys all-electric cargo planes; PLUS: CA tourist town almost out of water...
Previous GNRs: 8/3/21 - 7/29/21 - Archives...
Establishment v. Progressives in OH Special and 'Death by DeSantis': 'BradCast' 8/4/21
Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on all of that, plus infrastructure; Also: We found a Repub Guv who seems to regret killing people!...
NY's Going Through Some Things...and Other Dark News: 'BradCast' 8/3/21
NY AG details Cuomo harassment; NYC to require vax proof; COVID records, havoc in South -- unvax'd and influencers to blame; Also: Trump's new jihadi social network...
'Green News Report' 8/3/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure Week is happening!; Mudslide shuts I-70 indefinitely in CO; Washington county bans new fossil fuel infrastructure; PLUS: Massive new wildfires across the globe...
Previous GNRs: 7/29/21 - 7/27/21 - Archives...
4th Surge and Callers on Why They Finally Got Vax'd (Or Still Haven't): 'BradCast' 8/2/21
Also: Biden's landmark infrastructure agenda takes another step forward in the Senate...
CANNING: The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations
...and for patent waivers for life-saving innoculation drugs...
Sunday 'No Vaccine for Stupid' Toons
For whatever ails you, it's Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
'American Fascism' Rising (But Not YET Unavoidable!): 'BradCast' 7/30/21
Guest: Author Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden DoJ confirms IRS must give Trump tax docs to Congress...
Long Struggle for TX Voting Rights Laid Bare in U.S. House Hearing: 'BradCast' 7/29/21
Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' falls apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
'Green News Report' 7/29/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure bill inches forward in Senate; FL slammed by massive, toxic red tide; Extreme heat curbing nuclear plant reliability; PLUS: OR enacts historic clean energy legislation...
Previous GNRs: 7/27/21 - 7/22/21 - Archives...
GOP's AZ Election 'Audit' Coming Apart at the Seams: 'BradCast' 7/28/21
Guest: John 'Bamboo' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators reach agreement on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vax or tests for federal work force...
'A Cancer on Our Constitutional Republic': 'BradCast' 7/27/21
Harrowing testimony at first hearing of 1/6 Committee hearing; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
'Green News Report' 7/27/21
London drowning; Middle East burning; Lake Powell's lowest level ever; PLUS: Study warns extreme heat will be much more frequent, costly...
L.A.s New 'Vote Centers' Make Recounts All But Impossible: 'BradCast' 7/26/21
Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID deniers learn they were wrong...the hard way...
Sunday 'Gold Medal' Toons
PDiddie's latest, award-wanting collection of the week's best toons!...
Break Them Up! AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
Catastrophic flooding in China; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Guest: NRA expert and author Igor Volsky of Guns Down America; Also: Minors held in Border Patrol custody plummet 90%, media downplays; Trump kids still grifting tax-payer money from Secret Service detail...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2021 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the end sure seems nigh for the indescribably corrupt, terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association, after some big news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this week. If it's too soon to discuss the news, I hope they'll understand that we're sending them our thoughts and prayers. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

But first up, some more good news today, even if you'd be forgiven if you hadn't noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced this week that the Biden Administration has "drastically reduced" the number of unaccompanied minors being held in Customs and Border Patrol facilities by nearly 90% over the past month. From almost 6,000 at the end of March --- when much of the non-wingnut corporate media had taken their cues from the wingnut media to declare a "Biden Border Crisis!" --- to fewer than 600 children held in CBP cages as of Tuesday. After covering the "crisis" in breathless headline after breathless headline at Washington Post over the past month, the paper noted the good news in an 8 paragraph squib that is almost impossible to find amid a long blog page of Tuesday news items, and comes days after both CNN and NYTimes and others (though probably not Fox "News") had already noted the development.

Then, some more news that --- given everything else going on --- has flown a bit under the radar. Amid the NRA's ongoing bankruptcy trial in federal court in Texas, a U.S. Dept. of Justice official from the U.S. Trustees office --- which enforces federal bankruptcy law --- has told the judge she opposes the gun group's petition for Chapter 11 protection. The unusual declaration may all but quash the NRA's hopes of going into bankruptcy in a corrupt scheme to avoid legal accountability in New York. State Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA last August to dissolve the state's 150-year old "charitable" organization, due to wildly corrupt violations of the state's charter for non-profits. The NRA had hoped to receive bankruptcy protection from the federal government in order to duck the suit by closing shop in NY and reestablishing themselves in Texas, which apparently welcomes cartoonishly corrupt "non-profits" with open arms. (With a state Attorney General who is currently under indictment himself for state felony securities fraud and facing a broadening FBI criminal probe for corruption of his office, that should come as little surprise.)

The latest NRA news, of course, was a stunner to the group as it was revealed in court near the end of their trial this week. It also comes on the heels of another series of mass shootings in recent months. But good luck finding any news in recent years that doesn't. It does underscore, however, the absurd scam that the NRA's Wayne LaPierre has been pulling off against his own duped members for decades now (with millions of dollars in expensive vacations, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on fancy suits, sweetheart contracts for himself and his friends, all on the NRA's dime) and the far worse con that they've been pulling off on the American people in their corrupt, willful misinterpretation and lies about the 2nd Amendment.

The late, conservative U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger knew about it. He said during an interview in 1991, the 2nd Amendment had been "the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime." The current Chief Justice, however, may be willing to play along with that fraud in an upcoming NRA challenge, just accepted by the Court last week, that may upend more than 100 years of state gun laws barring weapons carried outside of the house without a permit.

We're joined today to discuss all of that --- and how, and if, Joe Biden and the Democrats can possibly take action on gun safety legislation in this environment --- by IGOR VOLSKY, author of Guns Down: How To Defeat The NRA And Build A Safer Future With Fewer Guns. He is founder of Guns Down America, and details today the astonishing news emerging from the NRA's attempt to escape accountability in NY, while suggesting that this may really be the end for the NRA gun lobby as we know it.

He accused me "understat[ing] the kind of revelations we've heard from the bankruptcy trial, in which Wayne LaPierre, NRA board members and many other top NRA officials admitted to many of the just jaw-dropping allegations that were made against it by the NY Attorney General. Just to underscore, one the admissions that really stunned the courtroom was the current NRA president admitting that she shred and burnt documents because she feared they could be used against the organization."

"The great fear, according to insiders, that at least Wayne LaPierre has, is that the next wave of charges are going to be criminal and that he's going to find himself in an orange jumpsuit," Volsky reports.

"They also took a very unusual approach for an organization that claims they can no longer pay their bills," he says. "They publicly said they're as strong as they've ever been, they're still the nation's premiere gun rights organization, but that they were simply using this maneuver in order to get outside of the New York Attorney General's jurisdiction and move to Texas, where the laws are much weaker. That's not how one uses bankruptcy. That's not the way bankruptcy law works." It's also very likely another violation of the law.

So, what do its members think of all of this? And who will replace the NRA if they really are shut down for good? Those are among the separate questions we discuss as well, along with much more related to this topic.

Finally, speaking of rightwing grifters, good government group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has obtained records from the Secret Service, suggesting that, while Donald Trump may no longer be in office, he is continuing to steal a whole lot of tax-payer money for himself and his company. While the children of most Presidents no longer receive Secret Service protection after a new President is sworn in, before leaving office, Trump signed off on protection for his kids and three top appointees for and additional six months. Those kids do a LOT of travel and spend a LOT of time at Trump-owned properties --- in Bedminster, NJ, Palm Beach, FL, and Briarcliff, NY, to name a few --- and when they do, guess who receives tens of thousands of dollars from the Secret Service for accommodations?

Yup. The Trump grift never ends...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Julian Brave NoiseCat of Data for Progress and the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen; Also: Biden announces enough vaccine for all U.S. adults by May; Abbott lifts ALL masking, business restrictions in TX...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2021 6:42pm PT  

As Washington State's Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell suggested last week, the phony GOP uproar over Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM)'s nomination by Joe Biden to become the first Native American Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department is a 'proxy fight' over something else entirely. It might be over the dim future for fossil fuels. It might be over the fact that Haaland would be the first indigenous cabinet member for any Presidential Administration in U.S. history. Or it might be the fact that the GOP, without any real governing philosophy or values, is simply flailing to find relevance. We discuss all of the above with our guest on today's BradCast.  [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some late breaking news following on our conversation on yesterday's show with Dr. Karl Krupp of the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. He argued that, while COVID numbers have (thankfully) fallen precipitously in recent weeks from our horrifically deadly surge in the Fall, we may now be on the verge of "screwing it up all over again." Both he and top federal officials at the CDC see the previously-declining numbers beginning to plateau and/or tick back up in recent days, as states and cities are, once again, prematurely lifting restrictions.

Late news today both supports his worry on one hand, and somewhat mitigates it, a little bit anyway, on the other.  This afternoon President Biden announced that he has helped to broker a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, the two pharmaceutical giants, to speed manufacture of J&J's newly-approved one-dose vaccine. Aided by his implementation of the Defense Production Act, he declared on Tuesday, the two companies, along with Pfizer and Moderna, will create enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of May. That is two months earlier than the Administration previously projected.

While that is certainly encouraging news, it is somewhat blunted by the idiot Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott's announcement today that, in direct contravention of warnings from scientists and federal health officials, the Lone Star State is immediately ending its statewide ask mandate and allowing all businesses to reopen to 100% capacity again. That, even as TX is still seeing about 7,600 new cases each day and averaged 227 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week.

As Dr. Krupp warned on this program yesterday, we could see new record highs in the near future if we begin "screwing it up all over again". Both he and I, hoped his fears would be wrong. We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, Republicans continue to slow-walk top appointments to the Biden Administration, including his new head of Health and Human Services, despite the historic (and once again worsening) pandemic we are still battling.  Clearly, Republicans don't care. But what they do care about is fossil fuel production by the companies which fund their campaigns. To that end, last week's confirmation hearings for Rep. Haaland in the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resource Committee were both revealing and maddening, especially for those in the Native American community.

Members of Indian Country have been watching her grilling in dismay and occasional fury as the first Native American nominated to head up any Cabinet level federal agency was falsely derided during her confirmation hearings last week as a "radical," largely by white, male GOP Senators who are, themselves, radically out of touch with even their own constituents' desire for more renewable energy and less fossil fuel development. Louisiana's Sen. John Kennedy went so far as to deride Haaland as a "neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job" (before attacking Biden's now-abandoned nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, for posting mean tweets some years ago.)

But are the almost-certainly futile attacks on the New Mexico Congresswoman about more than her not-radical-in-the-slightest position on fossil fuels? We're joined today by journalist, activist, and artist JULIAN BRAVE NOISECATVice President of Policy & Strategy at Data for Progress, as well as a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen and descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie. We discuss what lies behind the pathetic pushback against Haaland's nomination and why it is such a monumental moment for so many Native Americans around the nation.

NoiseCat has recently written about the pointless and embarrassing attacks on Haaland in her confirmation hearings at both The Nation and Washington Post, where he charged that  "Republicans’ depiction of the first Native American ever nominated to the Cabinet as a 'radical' threat to a Western 'way of life' revealed something about the conservative id: a deep-seated fear that when the dispossessed finally attain a small measure of power, we will turn around and do to them what their governments and ancestors did to us."

We discuss all of that and more today with NoiseCat, who explains the horrendous historic role that Interior has held in the genocidal treatment of American Indians, and the important mission that it now carries out for all Americans, but especially those in the West. (It is also home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) "Never before in the history of Interior have we had a Native person on the other side of the desk," he tells me. "And I think Native tribes are very hopeful we can make some further headway in correcting the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and its first peoples."

He also explains, by the way, why "Republicans might actually be burning their own wagon" in attacking Haaland.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as hundreds of thousands in Abbott's "free" Texas are still fighting to obtain water, two weeks after a winter storm knocked out power and water in the Lone Star State; the battle for water for thousands in Jackson, Mississippi after the same storm; and the natural gas industry's desperate attempt to keep their aging empire from collapse...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Brutal winter storm locks down TX, much of nation; Biden, Dems push ahead with progressive agenda; Callers ring in on Impeachment verdict and what must come next for disgraced former President...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2021 6:23pm PT  

Donald Trump was found guilty by a huge, bipartisan 57 to 43 verdict in the U.S. Senate of having incited the deadly, attempted January 6th insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. On discuss on today's BradCast, 7 Republican Senators joined all of the Democrats in that majority finding on Saturday, affirming that Trump attempted to overthrow the U.S. Government and the 2020 Presidential election. Nonetheless, due to the U.S. Constitution's requirement that a two-thirds vote of the Senate is needed to secure a conviction under the rules for Impeachment, our disgraced former President was "acquitted" of the charge he was found guilty of during his second Senate Impeachment Trial. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

We discuss what happened on Saturday in detail today, and take a bunch of calls from listeners on the matter. But first up, we cover the catastrophic winter storm --- featuring crippling snow, record cold and power outages for millions, particularly in Texas --- amid the ongoing COVID pandemic and attempt to distribute vaccinations to tens of millions of Americans. Native Texan Desi Doyen, co-host of our Green News Report, joins us to explain what's going on and why scientists tell us that it is happening.

Also, even while still on the Trump Accountability beat (as we've previously noted, this is going to take a while), we cover a bit of Biden Administration news today, including the quiet weekend withdrawal of Trump-era work requirements for Medicaid, as pushed and allowed to some states by the previous Administration, and the re-opening of the Healthcare.gov exchange to accommodate new "ObamaCare" signups during massive unemployment wrought by the pandemic. That, as the very popular American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus package, moves toward passage with or without Republican support in the Senate and (thanks to pushback from the House Progressive Caucus) without the potential cuts to the promised $1,400 relief checks which Republicans and some of the more conservative Democrats were previously considering.

Though an occasional kick to the head is required, it does seem like --- at least for now --- Democrats are "getting it" when it comes to the nation's bipartisan desire for big and bold action from lawmakers in D.C. Even conservative Democratic Rep. Richie Neal, Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, is now calling for new, monthly cash payments totaling $3,600 per year for every child under age 6, and $3,000 for children from 6 to 17. We hope Dems continue to offer the progressive policy the country yearns for, and we're glad to see progressives pushing Democrats when they need to.

Of course, Democrats have yet to learn all of the lessons they need to, as revealed by the Saturday snafu when House Impeachment Managers easily won a bipartisan vote to call witnesses at Trump's second Senate Impeachment Trial, only to cave shortly thereafter. There were arguably legitimate reasons to not call witnesses --- even if we would have preferred to see that happen. But to get everyone's hopes up, only to dash them --- without figuring out the concerns in advance --- was an inexcusable self own.

Nonetheless, Democrats won an historic 57-43 majority in the conviction votes, with an unheard of seven Senators from the opposing party joining all of the Democrats and independents in finding Trump guilty. Even the snake Mitch McConnell was forced to admit that, yes, Trump incited the violence at the Capitol. Though he still voted "not guilty", falsely and ridiculously claiming that it was unconstitutional to hold a trial after the impeached Executive Branch official was already out of office. His claims were even more grotesquely absurd given that he was the one that prevented the trial from happening while Trump was still in office.

So, what happens next? Will Trump ever face real accountability for his many crimes, including an attempt to overthrow the U.S. Government itself? If so, how, when and by whom? (Our own Ernie Canning has a few ideas today.) We discuss and open up the phone lines today to listeners to discuss that and other related matters on today's lively BradCast. Enjoy!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: High School senior Shourya Seth, COO of Project Paralink; Also: Admin's top-to-bottom failures in managing COVID crisis continue; Biden proposes 100% carbon-free power by 2035, millions of jobs with it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2020 6:55pm PT  

On today's BradCast: How bad is Donald Trump's Administration response to the COVID-19 crisis? Bad enough that "a guerrilla network" of high school kids seem to be doing a better job of getting some much-needed life-saving protective gear to medical workers than the federal government itself, at least in one state so far. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If you tried to fail any worse than the Trump Administration and his GOP acolyte Governors around the nation (Hello, Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis!), you'd be hard-pressed to fail as thoroughly as Trump has managed to, in virtually every aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. His deadly incompetence is continuing to help drive up infection rates, hospitalization rates and deaths in the U.S., even now, some five months into the pandemic. In Florida, the state's incompetent and very Trumpy Governor is at least finally admitting that they do not have nearly enough rapid tests to keep up with the explosion of new cases in the state after DeSantis reopened opened businesses far too early in the spring. But, even as FL hit a national record on Sunday of 15,300 newly confirmed cases in a single day on Sunday (more than most entire nations!), he continues to keep hospitalization rates a secret, despite promising last week to begin reporting them transparently to the public.

For their part, the Trump Administration is at least pulling back on one element of their shambolic crisis management. After being sued by 17 states this week, the Administration has walked back its vow to withdraw visas from foreign exchange students attending schools which refuse to open their classrooms to deadly in-person classes five days a week beginning next month. Other than that, the Administration response continues to go from horrific to even more horrific, if that's even imaginable.

NBC News reports today that, according to internal Health and Human Services documents they've obtained, shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) persist across the country as cases and hospitalizations and death rates continue to surge in major metropolitan cities and rural areas alike. The Strategic National Stockpile and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are still only able to fulfill about 30% of the requests for PPE for front-line medical and long-term care facility workers across the country, according to the federal documents, despite the President's ability to invoke the Defense Production Act to commandeer manufacturing facilities to meet the nation's needs.

Meanwhile, some high school kids in Atlanta, Georgia have taken it upon themselves to actually do something about the problem. We're joined today by SHOURYA SETH, high school senior and Chief Operating Officer for Project Paralink, a grassroots organization built with his friends to combat the coronavirus pandemic with the decentralized production producing and distribution of PPE to health workers. So far, they've managed to manufacture and donate more than 420,000 units of PPE, from face-shields to masks to more than 1,500 locations.

They've also gained some corporate support for their efforts, which are now joined by nearly 1,000 volunteers in the work to distribute much-needed protective gear in at least four states, to date. Seth says they have distributed to Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Alabama, though he tells me today they've recently begun working with California, New York, New Mexico and the Navajo Nation as well, for what they describe as "decentralization for social good" and "localized disaster relief".

Recently, he explains, "some hospitals had gone back to the position where they were only left with one week of supplies. And it was just, you know, really frustrating to see that the federal government was not doing anything about it." The project's ultimate goal, Seth explains, is to replace, or at least augment, FEMA's efforts with "Parapod Relief Stockpiles" all over the nation. He describes the project as "a guerrilla network of sorts [to] get the PPE supplies delivered faster than the federal supply chain." He also tells me that Paralink has already even outpaced FEMA in at least one respect in Georgia.

"Recently we actually passed FEMA in the donation of face shields," says Seth. "We didn't really see any coordination, at least on the gubernatorial level or the city level. On June 11th, FEMA put out a public press release, giving out state-by-state PPE data. When we looked at Georgia, what we found out was that FEMA had, at that time, only been able to produce 189,000 face shields, while we had been able to produce 370,000 face shields, essentially doubling the output. And the funny part is, some of the donations we made were to FEMA! So while we had been overproducing we had also been donating to FEMA!"

Seth tells us how how the project came about as an effort to improve food delivery logistics before the COVID crisis struck. They then decided to modify their algorithms to turn to PPE manufacturing and delivery.

"Just before the surge of cases, we started to notice a very, very slow downward trend in the cases. And we realized a lot of people, like Dr. Fauci, were talking about a second wave of the pandemic coming during the winter. We wanted to create the stockpiles in states to prepare for the future," he says. "A lot of the Republican-controlled state governments were ignoring those warnings, but we understood according to virologists, according to common sense, the cases were going to rise again." So, they sprung into action.

Seth also offers his own feelings about whether schools should be opened for in-person classes, as the Administration is now insisting upon, and asks for your help in growing the project. "If you have any sort of questions, inquiries, or ways that you can help us out, reach out to us!"

So, if you're worried about the next generation, today's conversation is likely to make you feel much better about their ability to handle --- and fix --- so much that we've already screwed up for them.

Then, another bit of encouraging and progressive news, this time from the Joe Biden Campaign today. The presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee announced a massive climate plan aimed at combating climate change and spurring economic growth by overhauling America's energy industry with a proposal to achieve carbon-free renewable power across the entire country by 2035. The ambitious plan echoes that offered during the Democratic primary campaign by then rival Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington state. The ambitious progressive plan would more than doubles the resources and halve the time-frame that Biden had previously proposed during the campaign. The effort to tackle our climate crisis would also, as Desi Doyen explains today, serve as a massive infrastructure jobs engine to help the U.S. climb out of the pandemic, it's accompanying economic crisis, and systemic racism, as the proposal requires that 40 percent of the money spent on clean energy deployment goes to historically disadvantaged front line communities, which have been among the worst and first victims of the climate crisis. It's a New Deal-like proposal that some might even call a Green New Deal --- if that phrase didn't startle delicate Republicans so.

Finally, we close with our latest Green News Report, as the nation attempts to deal with an extended extreme heat wave amidst our coronavirus crisis; as oil and gas companies go belly up, while both leaving environmental disasters for tax-payers to clean up and making sure their executives get huge bonuses on the way out the door; and as one venerable environmental group goes all in on ad buys highlighting Trump's deadly, parallel denial of both COVID-19 and climate change...

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COVID-19 surging in U.S. at record rates as hard evidence confirms that yes, Trump told his 'people' to 'slow the testing down, please'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

Seriously, at some point American officials will need to be prosecuted for mass murder for their criminal delinquency and deceit in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which has, so far, in just four months, cost the lives of more than 122,000 Americans. Those prosecutions should begin (if not end) with the man currently serving as President of the United States. That is particularly true in the wake of his criminal admission at his Death Rally in Tulsa last week, when he admitted that he told his "people...slow the testing down, please!" The White House later said Donald Trump was just joking, but when asked if he was kidding, he publicly admitted otherwise. "I don't kid," he said, "let me just tell you, let me make it clear." And we now have hard evidence on today's BradCast to prove that, perhaps for the first time, he was finally telling the truth. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

On Wednesday, confirmed new coronavirus cases in the U.S. set a single day record of more than 38,000. At the same time, hospitalizations are rapidly increasing in a number of states around the country, including states such as Florida, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma, where denialist Republican Governors reopened for business far too quickly, in direct contradiction to almost all health experts.

As states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut --- hit hardest and earliest at the beginning of the pandemic --- have seen case numbers and hospitalizations plummet, they've instituted quarantine restrictions on travelers from some of the currently hardest hit states. As of Wednesday, the list included Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah and Texas.

When asked what he would say to the leaders of some of those states, including Florida, whose Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis had issued a quarantine on travelers from the NY metro area early in the pandemic (while failing to mandate appropriate restrictions in his own state), New York's Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo said today: "You played politics with this virus and you lost. You told the people of your state and you told the people of this country, White House, don't worry about it. Just open up, go about your business, this is all Democratic hyperbole. Oh, really? Now you see 27 states with the numbers going up. You see the death projections going up. You see the economy going down. It was never politics, it was always science. And they were in denial."

Well, many of them are still in denial. And not just denial, but taking purposeful, affirmative efforts to lie to their people about COVID-19 numbers in their own states. The expert who ran Florida's once-lauded COVID-19 tracking website, but was fired because, she says, she refused to manipulate the data, sent out a warning this week. She charges that officials have been "instructed this week to change the numbers and begin slowly deleting deaths and cases so it looks like Florida is improving next week in the leadup to July 4."

In West Virginia, the state's Republican Gov. Jim Justice, a billionaire coal baron, has forced out the commissioner of the state's public health bureau because he didn't like the numbers she was reporting, as cases rise in at least 11 counties. He had previously lauded her at regular COVID-19 press briefings where she spoke. She was not at his latest briefing on Wednesday and released a statement upon her forced resignation that night, urging state officials "to stay true to the science".

Meanwhile, as the head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), conceded that the infection rate in the U.S. is likely 10 times higher than the number of cases currently reported (that's 23 million probably infections, instead of the official 2.3 million reported as of today), states like Texas are seeing not just increased cases, but spiking hospitalizations, which have doubled over the past week. In Houston, ICU beds were 97 percent full by Wednesday. (In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has barred hospitals from reporting those numbers anymore.) Even Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is now warning of the state's "massive outbreak", while still failing to mandate masking or even allowing local officials in Houston or anywhere else to do so on their own.

And yet, with all of that, Donald Trump really has told his "people" to "slow the testing down." Talking Points Memo's Josh Kovensky has been documenting the refusal by the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to approve extensions for federally funded testing at 13 sites across five states, including Texas. Where more than 40 such sites were once funded by the federal government across the country, only 13 sites remain, and they have been told by the Trump Administration that those resources will end on June 30th, despite desperate requests from officials in Texas, Illinois and Pennsylvania for the much-needed aid to continue.

That's just a taste of today's program, which raises the very serious question: Should these people be held accountable for the thousands --- perhaps tens of thousands --- of American citizens who are likely to die, thanks to their purposeful efforts to ignore science and health officials for purely brazen political purposes?

The deadly denial about the coronavirus is a fast-motion mirror of the Republican denial, for brazen political purposes, regarding climate change. Today we close with some accountability and/or attempts at accountability on that front in our latest Green News Report, in which Minnesota's Attorney General has now filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Exxon, Koch, and the American Petroleum Institute, citing, by way of just one example, a "proprietary" document from Exxon warning about the dangers of "CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere...due to fossil fuel combustion" that "will cause a warming of the earth's surface" and "dramatic environmental effects before the year 2050." That prescient, on-the-money document is dated October 16, 1979, before Exxon went on to spend millions of dollars over decades to misinform the public that climate change due to the burning of fossil fuels was little more than a hoax. Desi Doyen joins us for that attempted accountability and a bit more that has actually succeeded in a refreshingly encouraging GNR today. And it comes not a moment too soon...

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks on that and new evidence of 2016 GA hack; Also: Coronavirus fears, failures and recommendations...
By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2020 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast: If you think the coronavirus is worrisome now, just wait until voters in jurisdictions where they are forced to vote on unverifiable --- and germy --- TOUCHSCREEN computers start putting two and two together before Election Day. Not that the election officials who insisted on such an idiotic idea ever gave much of a damn about their voters, as our guest today makes abundantly clear. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First today, however, another sign that Republicans should almost certainly be in very big trouble this November. But, of course, that requires voters be able to vote in a way that the public can know their votes were tabulated as per voter intent (not possible on a touchscreen voting system of ANY type.) The trouble for the GOP could get even worse, however, depending on the Administration's handling of the expanding coronavirus crisis. That response does not seem to be going well, so far. The Dow plummeted another 1,200 points on Thursday, due to investor fears of a global pandemic, resulting in the sixth straight day of losses and the worst week for the markets since October, 2008 --- the height of that year's global financial crisis.

But Donald Trump is finally on the job! He surprised the man who had been in charge of the government's response to the epidemic, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, by announcing that Vice President Mike Pence would now be the Administration's point man on the matter. Azar was informed at the same time as the rest of us, when Trump announced the news at a press conference on Wednesday evening as Azar was standing next to him.

As to Pence having "a certain talent for this", as Trump announced at the presser, Pence's record as Indiana Governor in 2015, when he presided over the worst HIV outbreak in state history, strongly suggests otherwise. Still, as Desi Doyen joins us to point out today, none of this is reason to panic. It is reason, however, to take a few simple measures to keep you and your family safe, and Desi offers some helpful tips toward that goal.

All of this is also just one more reminder as to why this dangerous menace of an Administration must be replaced as soon as legally possible. To that end, there are reasons to be concerned about the integrity of several upcoming primary elections, not to mention this November's critical general election. Saturday's crucial South Carolina primary will require all state voters to use brand-new, 100% unverifiable touchscreens made by a company with a long history of election failures. The March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, just three days later, will see voters in California, Texas, and North Carolina, among other states, forced to use new, similarly unverifiable touchscreen voting systems for the first time.

Meanwhile, in the battleground state of Georgia, where a federal judge last year ordered the state's nearly twenty-year old, failed, unsecure Diebold touchscreen systems to be scrapped and replaced, the Republican Sec. of State has now mandated that every county use all-new, unverifiable touchscreens made by the Canadian firm, Dominion Voting, for the upcoming March 24 primaries in the Peach State. That, instead of a simpler, safer, cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems.

We're joined today for a long-overdue visit from MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the invaluable Coalition for Good Governance, the lead plaintiff in the federal case that resulted in the decertification of GA's old touchscreen systems. And we've got a LOT of NEWS to catch up on with her today! Her group is also suing in federal court to block the new systems as well and filed this week, in state court, to block their use in a runoff election on March 3rd, given that the huge, brightly-lit touchscreens, as Marks explains, violate voter privacy by allowing others, from all the way across the precinct, to see the "secret ballot" of every voter!

She says "the outrageous way people are being required to vote in Georgia" is "disgusting" and "insidious". The new lawsuit [PDF] notes the new touchscreens (pictured above) are 22 inches high and 14 inches across. "It's very, very brightly lit with incredibly huge fonts. You can see across the room --- from thirty feet away --- you can see what candidate someone is voting for. So there is absolutely no ballot secrecy at all. Anybody in the room, you can see their ballot choices. The press can see it, the public can see it, the pollworkers can see it, their neighbors can see it, their minister, their doctor, their landlord, their boss. Everybody is voting essentially in public!," Marks says.

Marks watched "hundreds of people vote on this" while poll watching at last November's trial first run of the systems during a small municipal election and says, "we just turned our eyes when they get to the place that they're pressing the choice for their candidate, because we can see it from thirty, forty feet away. Everybody talks about it!" The mind-boggling design flaw, she explains, violates state law, and she details what the state court is expected to do about it.

But that's not all we catch up on today regarding the fight to vote verifiably (and secretly) in the state. Marks reports on the current state investigation underway by the GA Sec. of State into both her and Georgia Tech computer professor and voting systems expert Rich DeMillo (also a recurring BradCast guest) for, essentially, having the temerity to investigate concerns about the voting systems in Georgia. Marks explains the ongoing probe and what Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger's office is accusing her and DeMillo of doing. She calls it "completely absurd", adding "of course it is all retaliation. ... It is nothing but an attempt to try to marginalize the efforts of experts and successful activists. And to discourage others."

But, while all of that may be mind-blowing, it may be nothing compared to the new revelations recently uncovered by the expert hired by the Coalition to carry out a forensic investigation of GA's central computer server for its old system. As listeners may recall, data researcher Logan Lamb discovered before the 2016 Presidential election that GA's main election server for the entire state --- including the state's voter registration database, programming for all ballots statewide, and administrative passwords to its voting system --- were discovered to have been sitting on a web server for download by anyone, no password necessary, for at least six months (and probably much longer) before the 2016 Presidential election in which it was thought possible that Georgia might finally flip to "blue".

That researcher, Logan Lamb, alerted authorities about the data's vulnerability. As thanks, he was reported to the FBI by then Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp, as a potential hacker. He wasn't. But he has now been hired by the Coalition as an expert to examine the now-retired server in question. And, last month, according to AP, he made a startling discovery while examining a mirror image of the 2016 server, which was finally turned over by the state in December of 2019. Lamb found evidence that the server may have been hacked by someone who took advantage of a bug that provided full control of the server. Moreover, he found that all of the system's log files --- which would detail all actions taken on the server --- had been wiped out up until November 10, 2016, two days after that year's Presidential election...for some reason. Now why would that be?

We discuss all of that and MUCH more in another jaw-dropping, must-listen segment today with Marks, including our shared embarrassment that in both of our own home counties (she's in Mecklenburg County, NC, the state's most populous and diverse, and I'm in L.A. County, the largest in CA and even the country) elections officials have instituted new, unverifiable touchscreens for the 2020 elections, set for first time use in both counties next week on Super Tuesday!

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us again for our latest Green News Report after CBS ignored climate change in Tuesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate in South Carolina; a major bank determines that climate change threatens human survival; and another huge oil refinery blows up, this time in Southern California...

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CA fires, private utility blackouts; Wilbur Ross' private email scandal; Giuliani lawyers up; 'Obamacare' prices drop; MA's shameful vaping ban...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

With a short, semi-pause in the hot impeachment action on Capitol Hill, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to catch up on a number of non-impeachment related stories (mostly). [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • With climate change induced temps soaring, humidity plummeting and hot, nearly hurricane force desert wind gusts buffeting much of the state, wildfires are again breaking out again in both Northern and Southern California, despite the state's several privately-owned for-profit utility companies preemptively shutting down power to as many as half a million customers. That, to avoid still more liability for failing to maintain and/or bury their power lines which have been found as the cause of many recent deadly fires in the global warming-parched state. Gov. Gavin Newsom had some choice words on Thursday about those utility companies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG+E) and Southern California Edison, placing profits over safety for many years in what he blasted as "dog-eat-dog capitalism [and] corporate greed meeting climate change";
  • As the years-long probe by Trump's State Department into the phony "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as Secretary of State finally concluded very quietly last week --- having found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” --- yet another top Trump Administration official is being investigated for his use of private email accounts to conduct official business. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is at least the 9th senior Trump official who has been revealed to have done so, as he faces both a civil lawsuit over the practice, and as the National Archives and Records Administration has just opened an official probe;
  • In only somewhat impeachment-related news, Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who refused last week to answer a Congressional subpoena from House impeachment investigators while parting ways with his personal attorney, is now said to be looking for a new criminal attorney. The former NYC Mayor is reportedly a person of interest in at least two different federal probes, both criminal and counterintelligence, being carried out by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY (the office Giuliani once led as U.S. Attorney);
  • In U.S. healthcare news, open enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act healthcare.gov exchange is set to begin on November 1, with as many as 20 new insurers and an average drop in the cost of premiums of 4%. Despite years of attempts by Republicans and Donald Trump to try and undermine "Obamacare", its marketplace is apparently stabilizing even as a ruling is now pending at any time from a federal appeals court in the GOP challenge to the law seeking to strike down the entire Act as unconstitutional;
  • And, in related-ish news, a court in Massachusetts has temporarily delayed an ill-considered attempt by its Governor to institute the nation's strictest ban on vaping, in supposed response to a recent outbreak of lung injuries, a number of them deadly, due to the use of black-market THC/cannabis vaping cartridges. Gov. Charlie Baker's attempted ban, however, would prevent the sale of all nicotine vaping products, which are not tied to the recent outbreak in any way, thus endangering the lives of an untold number of smokers and former smokers who would be prevented from using life-saving nicotine vapor devices in the state. Shamefully, a number of other states are in the process of implementing similarly deadly bans, thanks in no small part to horrifically irresponsible media coverage that has equated safe nicotine vaping (and safe marijuana vaping in locations where it is both legal and regulated) with the use of contaminated black-market THC vaping devices;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the disgraceful and dangerous California private utilities power blackouts, the deadly costs of Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards, and Congressional testimony from former Exxon scientists who detail how the oil giant spent decades and millions of dollars lying to the public about climate change...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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Guest: The Intercept's Akela Lacy on Admin approval for religious discrimination; Also: Kushner was rejected for top secret clearance, but granted it anyway; Stone arrested and charged in Florida...
By Brad Friedman on 1/25/2019 6:39pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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