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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, October 20, 2021
'Despair is Not an Option' After Manchin Tanks Biden's Central Climate Plan: 'BradCast' 10/19/21
Guest: UCSB's Dr. Leah Stokes; Also: 'Mass homicide' allegations for Brazil's Bolsonaro...
'Green News Report' 10/19/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Manchin tosses hand grenade into Biden's climate agenda; EPA to crack down on PFAS; Million of polluting, abandoned U.S. wells; PLUS: McDonald's finally going beyond meat...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/21 - 10/12/21 - Archives...
Listeners Ring in on Whether Ds Should Gerrymander 'Blue' States: 'BradCast' 10/18/21
Also: How the unvaxxed helped kill fully-vaxxed Colin Powell; How Manchin is killing Biden's landmark climate change plan...
Sunday 'Democracy's Boundaries' Toons
PDiddie draws a few lines in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
Why Dems Should Now Gerrymander 'Blue' States (and Why They Shouldn't): 'BradCast' 10/15/21
Guest: FairVote's Dave Daley; Also: Freedom to Vote in the Senate; GOP physics in VA...
Why the Last Remaining 2020 Election Contest in GA Should Not Have Been Dismissed: 'BradCast' 10/14/21
Also: Why Bannon's in big trouble (probably); And why Trump may not be running in 2024...
'Green News Report' 10/14/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Supply chain disruptions spike global energy prices; Russia says they didn't do it!; CA bans gas-powered leaf blowers; PLUS: Biden Administration goes big on offshore wind...
Previous GNRs: 10/12/21 - 10/7/21 - Archives...
'Red' State Profs Fight for Masking at Universities: 'BradCast' 10/13/21
Guest: Dr. Matthew Boedy of UNG; Also: Shatner in space; Workers have had enough; Biden's big new off-shore wind plan...
'Green News Report' 10/12/21
'No climate, no deal!' on Build Back Better; Critical infrastructure facing flood, failure; 2021 extreme weather costs; PLUS: Biden restores national monuments...
'Change the Whole Process': CA Rep on Ending Big Oil After State's Latest Offshore Spill: 'BradCast' 10/11/21
Guest: Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA); Also: Trump's plan to steal 2024; Callers...
Sunday 'Privilege' Toons
You know you deserve PDiddie's collection of this week's best political toons...
Media Downplaying Trump, GOP's Threat to U.S. Democracy: 'BradCast' 10/8/21
Guest: Eric Boehlert; Also: Biden restores nat'l monuments; Trump hid losses at D.C. hotel...
Trump Didn't Try to 'Subvert Results', He Tried to Steal 2020!: 'BradCast' 10/7/21
Also: Pipeline co.'s leak tech failed in SoCal spill; Freedom of choice restored to TX women (for now); Media misreport GOP debt threat...
'Green News Report' 10/7/21
Ship anchor may be cause of SoCal oil spill; Fossil fuel industry subsized $11 million every minute; PLUS: PA A.G. criminally charges notorious pipeline developer...
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: Election security expert Susan Greenhalgh of plaintiff Free Speech for People; Also: Senate Dems announce deal for 'transformative' $3.5 trillion health care, climate, infrastructure package...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2021 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Senate Dems strike a very big deal and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission gets sued again, this time for rolling back voting system standards after secret, unlawful meetings with the manufacturers they are supposed to be regulating. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, in what is being reported as potentially "transformative" legislation for the country, Senate Democrats on Tuesday night announced they had come to an agreement on a deal that would invest $3.5 trillion into the expansion of Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, child care and a host of other "human infrastructure" priorities, while also addressing climate change with a broad array of clean energy incentives. The blueprint for the agreement still lacks specific legislative language, but was struck after weeks of work in the Senate Budget Committee chaired by Bernie Sanders (I-VT). Democratic Committee members, such as centrist Mark Warner of Virginia, are also said to be on board with the package, which would be paid for by increased taxes on those making more than $400,000 a year and on large corporations. If all Senate Dems agree to the final bill and no more than 4 Democrats defect in the House, the measure could be adopted under Senate Reconciliation rules with a simple majority vote without the need for any Republicans.

Passage of that package, along with adoption of the smaller bipartisan nearly $600 billion proposal recently hashed out among moderate Senators on more traditional infrastructure spending, such as for roads and bridges, would amount to a massive victory for Democrats (presuming Republicans do not renege on their part of the agreement) and, more importantly, for jobs, families the climate and the American people as a whole. It would be the largest such spending package since the New Deal. We walk through some of the reported details of the new reconciliation package and what it may mean for Americans before the 2022 mid-term elections.

And, speaking of elections, earlier this year we reported on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s secret and unlawful meetings last year with voting system vendors, as discovered by SUSAN GREENHALGH, longtime election integrity advocate and Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-partisan government watchdog group, Free Speech for People (FSFP). As she revealed at the time, the EAC's meetings, even with vendors, are all supposed to be public, according to the federal Help American Vote Act (HAVA). Her group was forced to sue to make the EAC cough up emails and other records detailing the secret vendor meetings. Most disturbingly, the EAC's Commissioners made alarming changes to newly drafted voting system certification guidelines just after those meetings.

The EAC is the federal agency responsible for creating certification guidelines for the nation's voting and tabulation systems. After a painstaking 5-year process in public consultation with technical advisors and other experts, the final draft of the much-needed and long-awaited Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG) 2.0 was released last year. It included, among other important elements, a ban on wireless modems in voting and tabulation systems. Cybersecurity experts applauded the provision, after long warning of the dangers of such devices in systems that register, record and tabulate the nation's votes.

After the EAC's secret meetings with voting system vendors last year, however, the agency weakened the new guidelines --- removing, for instance, the ban against wireless modems --- and revealed an amended, watered-down version just days before Commissioners voted for final approval of the new standards. Experts were stunned. Now Greenhalgh's FSFP is suing the EAC again, along with co-plaintiff Philip Stark, an elections expert from UC-Berkeley and a member of the EAC's own Board of Advisors (as well as a recent guest on this program). The complaint [PDF] calls for the EAC to roll back the last minute changes made to the guidelines after they secretly met with the voting system manufacturers.

Greenhalgh joins us to explain all of this latest madness, what it could mean for election security, why the EAC made these changes and continue to roll over for the vendors they are supposed to be regulating, and to discuss the perils of the woeful EAC's under-handed changes at a time when cyberattacks are on the rise and confidence in election results (justifiably or not) is plummeting.

"Rather than being an independent source of information regarding voting systems, the EAC is going to the vendors to ask them the questions and understand how the systems work. And, of course, the vendors aren't going to say, 'Yeah, this is highly insecure, we shouldn't be doing this,'" Greenhalgh explains.

"It's mind blowing to me," Greenhalgh tells me, when I ask if the EAC Commissioners fully understand the security risks involved in allowing the modems that vendors want in their systems (for reasons she also explains.) "You would think they'd want to err on the side of caution, they would want to err on the side of security. And if there was a good reason to allow this, then why not have this process out in the open where they can make the case to the public as to why 'we think this is a secure way to go.'? Instead they did the whole thing behind closed doors, in a super shady manner. Doesn't engender a lot of confidence." 

Finally today, in addition to the Dems' massive new infrastructure proposal announced on Tuesday night, Senate Democrats also unveiled a long-overdue, landmark proposal to finally legalize cannabis at the federal level. That bill, however, will require some Republicans to come aboard for passage, so we'll see how it goes...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: OH's million dollar COVID vaccine lottery is working; Millions of parents will soon get monthly checks from Dems' American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 5/18/2021 7:08pm PT  

There is nothing wrong with citizens --- no matter how partisan or misinformed --- demanding to know for themselves that election results have been accurately recorded and reported. That's true even in cases where they have been blatantly lied to by, say, a disgraced, failed President of the United States. But post-election audits must be done in full public view from top to bottom, with all processes and evidence from the election kept within a transparent, well-documented, secure chain-of-custody at every step. Two ongoing post-election audits from the 2020 election are currently underway. One offers an example of exactly how not to do such a probe, the other one is shaping up to be a model for the nation.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show follows this summary]...

  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's scheme to hold a $1 million lottery each week for the next five weeks for any Buckeye Stater 18 and over who has received at least one COVID vaccine shot, appears to be working. While we've got a few suggestions on how it could have been done more effectively, at least it appears to have slowed and even reversed (for some ages) the state's recent drop-off in the number of folks getting their shots. As it turns out, Ohioans seem to like DeWine's plan to offer federal government-sponsored cash prizes (yes, socialism!) courtesy of the America Rescue Plan in exchange for receiving life-saving inoculation from a deadly disease. More states should consider the same and the federal government oughta just pay people to get their shots! We suspect a crisp $100 bill in exchange for a shot in the arm would do the trick. (By the way, Ohioans need to opt-in for the lottery, at OhioVaxAMillion.com, to be eligible for the prizes!)
  • Another direct benefit for Americans from the American Rescue Plan (Biden's emergency pandemic relief and stimulus bill adopted by Democrats while being VOTED DOWN BY EVERY SINGLE REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS), is the expanded child tax credits which will, beginning in July, send monthly checks of $300 per child under 6, and $250 for kids between 6 and 17, to parents making less than $150,000 over the next year. If Americans liked the Democrats' $1,400 individual payments from the ARP, they may love its expanded child tax credits which start this summer. Experts say the payments are likely to help cut child poverty in half this year. Hopefully, Dems will remember to loudly remind Americans of all parties which party it was that made those payments possible, and which party attempted to prevent them. Democrats are not usually very good at that. And hopefully they'll be able to extend those payments through at least 2025 as Biden has proposed in his American Families Plan --- which Republicans also oppose.
  • Then it's back to the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa County, Arizona, where the county's 2.1 million public ballots from the 2020 Presidential and Senatorial elections last year are being inspected, in secret, by a private company with no experience in elections, voting systems or audits named Cyber Ninjas. Now, it seems, the Ninjas and a number of their allegedly false claims made about the materials turned over to them by the County (as ordered by a state court in response to the Republican-controlled state Senate's mandate) were the final straw for the majority GOP Maricopa County Board of Supervisors and its new Republican County Recorder.

    On Monday, the 5-person Board (4 Rs, 1 D), denounced the audit as a "sham" and a "con," lamenting the "spectacle" that they say "is harming all of us" and turning Arizona into "a laughingstock". The new Republican County Recorder, Steven Richer, now in charge of elections in one of the nation's largest counties, blasted the Ninjas for what he describes as blatantly false claims that election databases were unlawfully deleted and for ensuring attacks on his new staff. The Board also sent a blistering 13-page letter [PDF] to the state Senate's President detailing their anger, frustration and embarrassment, calling for the audit to be ended, while responding to charges they claim to be lies coming out of process. The Maricopa "audit" is now in it's third week in Phoenix, but reportedly nowhere near complete.

  • Meanwhile, by way of a critical contrast, another post-election forensic audit is underway in Windham, New Hampshire, led by actual experts in post-election audits and voting systems. Unlike the evidence-free claims of fraud in AZ, there is reason to be alarmed by the results of a state House of Representatives race in the town of 14,000 people. There, on election night last November, in an 8-person race (4 Ds and 4 Rs) for 4 seats in the state House, all four Republican candidates won. According to the computer tabulations, they were the four top vote-getters for those seats, with the Democratic candidate, Kristi St. Laurent, coming in 5th by just 24 votes.

    Last November, after she requested a hand-count of the town's hand-marked paper ballots --- previously tallied only by 20-year old, easily manipulated, oft-failed Diebold optical scanners --- it was discovered that the 4 Republicans actually received about 300 more votes each than the tabulators had reported on Election Night. And St. Laurent, the hand-tally found, actually received 99 fewer votes than initially credited with. So what explains the discrepancy between the computer count and the hand count? That's what the auditors began to investigate last week in one of the most open, professional, well-documented and transparent such processes I've ever seen in my nearly twenty years on this beat.

    This week, the auditors explained --- via the live streaming audio and video coming out of the audit room, their own Twitter feed, as well as in interviews with local media --- their leading working theory that could explain the numbers seen one way (incorrectly) by the computer scanners and another way (correctly) by the hand-counters last November. Their working theory, if it bears out, would explain the disparity between the two separate tallies last November. We explain that theory today. And, no, unlike our disgraced former President's recent false claims about both Arizona and New Hampshire, the reasonable hypothesis does not involve "massive election fraud" with "thousands and thousands" of newly "found" ballots. It involves the scanners misreading folds on mail-in ballots as votes.

    But, of course, most critically, the side-by-side comparison of the clown show "audit" theater in Maricopa, which the public (and even local officials) are not allowed to fully oversee, versus the methodical, transparent, public process being carried out in Windham, should be an illustrative model for all future such probes. In the case of Windham, we are likely to have an answer to the mystery that everyone can agree with when all is said and done in the next few weeks. In Maricopa, I think its safe to say, little is expected to be settled one way or another after this ill-considered exercise is finally finished...if it ever is.

  • Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as calls grow for increased cybersecurity for the nation's energy infrastructure in the wake of last week's Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack; another pipeline company defies a shutdown order from a state Governor; and the EPA finally shuts down --- at least for now --- a disastrous, toxic mess of an oil refinery in the U.S. Virgin Islands...among other American disaster tales hastening our worsening climate crisis...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Hullabaloo; Also: More on the D.C. Police ransomware hack; And Colonial Pipeline reopens after attack...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2021 6:08pm PT  

For reasons explain on today's BradCast, we've avoided coverage over the past week or two of the twisted internecine warfare going on inside the GOP. But, as of today, we can ignore it no longer. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

About 100 former Republican officials (the key word here may be "former"), will reportedly be releasing a statement on Thursday, threatening to start a new party if the GOP fails to roll back from its worsening Trump Big Lie madness. Those former officials should expect to be disappointed.

On Tuesday night, on the eve of today's GOP caucus vote in the U.S. House to oust longtime, far-right, conservative Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (daughter of Dick) from her role as Conference Chair (third-highest ranking Republican leadership position in the House) she took to the House floor to vow she would not roll over for the dangerous, evidence-free claims of a stolen 2020 election being propagated by her crumbling party.

Therefore, on Wednesday morning, she was removed from her leadership position during a cowardly, 15-minute voice vote in a GOP conference meeting after Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hung her out to dry. (He had previously both condemned Trump's behavior for fueling the deadly January 6th MAGA Mob attack on the U.S. Capitol and supported Cheney. But, of late, he has decided to cast his lot with the disgraced, sore loser ex-President instead.)

After the vote, Cheney defiantly reiterated her belief that the Party "must go forward based on truth" and "cannot both embrace the Big Lie and embrace the Constitution," adding that she would "do everything I can to ensure that the former President never again gets anywhere near the Oval Office."

We're joined today by our friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the seeming meltdown and inflection point within the GOP, where Cheney will most likely be replaced in her leadership role by New York Rep. Elise Stefanik. She has a far less Trumpy voting record than Cheney (for instance, unlike Cheney, Stefanik voted against the 2017 Trump/GOP tax cuts.) But, also unlike Cheney, Stefanik is happy to lie about the results of the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump. That is, apparently, all that now matters for the Republican Party.

There is a lot to talk about on this front today, including what Parton describes as a bid by Cheney to offer an alternative path back to the White House for Republicans, even though fealty to falsehoods and a failed sociopathic President now appears to be perhaps the only real "value" left in the once Grand Old Party.

"Don't get me wrong," Parton says today. "I disagree with [Cheney] on everything. She's as far right as it gets, and if she runs for office, I will be the first one in line to oppose her. But this is not a partisan issue. Or it shouldn't be. Because this is really an assault on our democratic process."

However, she adds later, "This is a political move on her part. At some point, she, and I'm sure her father, decided that there was an opening at this moment for someone to be the face of the anti-Trump Republican, and she was a good choice for doing it. The party is going to be looking for a woman nominee. It may be 2024, it may not be until 2028. They are positioning her as the tough, real, rightwing conservative who stood up to Donald Trump and guess what? She's a woman, too. 'There's  not going to be anything Liz Cheney isn't tough enough to take on'."

As usual, Parton has many smart insights on all of this.

Finally, a couple of quick updates on some stories we covered in detail on our previous BradCast. Some new and disturbing news on the ongoing ransomware attack against the D.C. Metro Police, and late breaking news today that the Colonial Pipeline has begun to reopen after a five day shutdown due to a ransomware attack there as well. No word yet on whether Colonial, owner of the nation's largest pipeline network --- running from Texas to New Jersey and supplying about half of the gas, jet fuel and diesel for the Eastern Seaboard --- paid off the hackers to restore their crippled computer networks to restart the pipeline...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter; Also: Judge nixes NRA's 'bad faith' bankruptcy; New AZ law will purge voters from mail-in ballot list...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we slide down the slippery, oil-soaked slope of increasingly dangerous ransomware attacks with, as our guest warns today, "nothing" to stop one from taking out an election in the not-too-distant future.

But, first up, some better news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this afternoon, where a judge has nixed the National Rifle Association's attempt to escape accountability for massive corruption and self-dealing in New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the 150-year old "charitable" group to dissolve it. The NRA had filed for bankruptcy protection in order to duck NY's lawsuit and re-charter itself in the Lone Star State, where apparently they welcome corrupt "charitable" organizations. As we discussed on the show last week, with NRA expert and author Igor Volsky, the group's leader Wayne LaPierre, remarkably, filed for Chapter 11 protection without the knowledge of its Board of Directors or General Counsel. The judge described that as "shocking" and found that the NRA was unlawfully hoping to use the bankruptcy proceedings to avoid the NY state litigation. Judge Harlin Hale didn't buy it, however, and dismissed the "bad faith" filing today after an 11-day trial. The NRA will now have to face the music in NY, where the state AG declared in response: "No one is above the law." (We'll hope that's also true in her ongoing probe of bank and tax fraud by Donald Trump and his Trump Organization as well. She already succeed in shutting down HIS phony "charity", calling itself the Trump Foundation.)

Also today, more breaking news out of Arizona. Despite claims from some state Republican Senators that they are embarrassed by the clown show currently playing out in Phoenix with the Cyber Ninjas' "audit" theater of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 Presidential election in Maricopa County, (one such GOP Senator who voted for the exercise now laments, "It makes us look like idiots"), the same Senators passed legislation on Tuesday to make it harder for some 140,000 Arizonans to vote. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the new law today, less than an hour after passage, which would purge voters from the permanent mail-in ballot list if they fail to vote in two elections in a row and then fail to return a letter within 90 days of it being sent to them. Democrats and some businesses charge that the measure disproportionately targets voters of color. But, of course, that's a feature, not a bug for the state GOP, still smarting from having lost the Presidential election and both of its U.S. Senate seats to Democrats.

Then, we're joined by longtime cybersecurity and national security journalist KIM ZETTER to discuss the ransomware attack which has led to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline. The company's network supplies nearly half of the gas, jet fuel and diesel used on the Eastern Seaboard, as is snakes some 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey.

Zetter explains how this attack, attributed to a Russia-based group calling themselves DarkSide, was apparently able to burrow its way into Colonial's corporate IT computer network, if not to the operational computer network that actually controls the pipeline system, as well as why the company quickly decided to shut down the pipeline itself anyway.

After sharing some details she has gleaned from sources, including pipeline customers and suppliers, we discuss the recent rise of ransomware attacks which are extraordinarily effective and difficult to prevent. Many companies and organizations --- businesses large and small, hospitals, banks, and both state and local governments --- are now forced to pay the ransom demanded by the cyber-terrorists. Even today, news broke that negotiations between ransomware attackers and the D.C. Metropolitan Police have broken down, with the attackers now threatening to publicly release a sensitive list of police informants if more money is not offered. (The group is demanding $4 million, but claims the Department has offered only $100,000.)

"Unfortunately, this is an industry now," Zetter explains, describing the firms that now specialize in serving as negotiators with the hackers, while helping the crippled companies restore their systems with decryption tools supplied by the hackers once ransom has been paid.

Zetter is also one of the few journalists in the nation that has been covering concerns and vulnerabilities in computerized voting and tabulation systems as long as me. I spent many a sleepless night last year concerned about the possibility of a ransomware attack on wildly vulnerable state and county elections systems. "Nothing" can prevent such an attack, warns Zetter, especially on systems that are often left exposed and vulnerable on the Internet all year around, even when there are no current elections under way (as we discussed in detail with Zetter in 2019.)

As you may imagine, we've got lots to talk about with Zetter today. She has written for years on these matters at outlets such as Wired, Politico, New York Times, Vice's Motherboard and is the author of the book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon. She also now writes her own newsletter called Zero Day, covering all of these topics and more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, with more on how the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest such network in the nation, is crippling the fuel supply on the East Coast; how a new study finds air pollution from farms causes thousands of premature deaths each year in the U.S.; more ominous signs of the worsening drought in California; and some much better news regarding electric vehicles and action being taken by the Biden Administration to restore landmark federal protections for migratory birds after the Trump Administration had dismantled them...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Maya Worman of Univ. of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative; Also: Trump facing big trouble in NY; Callers ring in on the VEEPStakes...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2020 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections are under threat once again this year, and not just from the President of the United States. But one group of cybersecurity experts launched a new initiative on Friday to try and help --- and not a moment too soon. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, what suffices for some good news today: The Manhattan District Attorney seeking 8 years of Donald Trump's tax records and those from the Trump Organization suggested in a court filing today that his investigation requires those documents since he is examining "extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization...dating back over a decade." Until today, the office of Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. had indicated only that he was probing the hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election. Those payments were meant to keep them quiet about affairs with Donald Trump.

Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen is serving a three year sentence for his part in that criminal campaign finance conspiracy which both he and federal prosecutors say was "directed" by Trump himself. But today's court filing makes clear that Vance's probe goes far beyond that. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court said that subpoenas of Trump's financial services institution by the Grand Jury impaneled by Vance were permissible, though they sent the case back to a lower court for one more review, delaying any potential state prosecution of Trump or his associates likely until after the election. Now we have some confirmation that Vance's state investigation (which is immune to Presidential pardon power) appears much broader than previously publicly known.

In other accountability news, a 17-year old from Tampa, Florida was arrested on Friday, accused of being the mastermind behind a scheme last month that commandeered the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and other high-profile politicians, CEOs and pop stars. The conspiracy --- two others were also arrested, including a 19-year old from the UK and a 22-year old from Orlando --- was an attempt to scam more than $100,000 in Bitcoin out of gullible people who followed the Twitter accounts of those celebrities, which were taken over by the alleged perpetrators.

As we've observed before, if multi-billion dollar social media companies such as Twitter, which spends huge sums of money on cybersecurity, can't keep their systems safe from hacks like this, what chance does Mr. and Mrs. Local County Election Clerk have in protecting their computer voter registration databases, electronic pollbooks, computerized voting systems and computer tabulators this November? That effort is made all the more impossible this year thanks to the expansion of Vote-by-Mail in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the refusal of Republicans in Congress to appropriate the $4 billion that election officials across the country have been seeking for months in hopes of expanding election systems and protecting it from cyber-intrusion and other related failures this year. The federal government --- via the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) --- offers extremely limited support for the nation's 13,000 independent voting jurisdictions.

But with just over 90 days until Election Day now, a new initiative is being launched out of the University of Chicago Harris Cyber Policy Initiative called the Election Cyber Surge. The initiative, according to its Executive Director MAYA WORMAN, who joins us on the show today, is to bring volunteer cybersecurity and voting systems experts together with local elections officials to help them with whatever cyber-related problems or concerns they may be facing before the election. The hope, she explains, is to help prevent cyberintrusions and ransomware attacks and the like before they happen.

"The need is clear," she tells me. "I think it's increasingly more obvious to those who aren't following this closely, who aren't following this beat. That, in itself, is a strong indicator that we are needed. ... It's not just voter rolls. It's not just the output of the machines, but all of the things in between, including maps of where all of your polling place might be, the hours that they're open, what the deadlines are to register, the information you need once you get there --- all of this stuff can be tweaked just slightly. That could affect the major portion of the voters in any given jurisdiction."

Given the enormous complexity of today's voting and counting systems --- not to mention often-interconnected voter registration systems and electronic pollbooks --- the free help offered by Cyber Surge is likely to be invaluable to thousands of local jurisdictions who may have limited, if any, IT support and a lack of access to cybsersecurity experts. Though we are now just three months out from this year's critical Presidential election (mail-in ballots will go out and early voting will begin in as few as 45 days in some places), Worman says she is confident that the new initiative --- born out of DefCon's "Voting Village", a hacking conference where white-hat hackers have been successfully trying their luck on various voting systems since 2017 --- will prove helpful to myriad election officials who, too often, rely only on private voting systems vendors for support.

"More than 50% of all election officials rely on at least 6 different vendors," Worman observes. "I think there's obviously an expectation that the people with whom they are doing business will not lead them astray, and maybe they won't. But when you have so many different, overlapping tools and systems and a network, and it's all being fed by an antiquated database that is protected who knows how, that is where vulnerabilities from having multiple vendors comes in."

Worman, and (hopefully) cavalry of experts aim to help. And quickly. The effort will be more necessary than ever this year given the necessary changes being made to voting during the pandemic and, thanks to Republican intransigence in Congress, a lack of financial resources to pay for it. "The days of making sure that the room where the ballots are kept is locked --- we're far beyond that now. So a reality check that is gentle, but based in reality, is critical," she warns, adding: "Without sounding too trite, I think staying positive is key here. I think it is very clear that there are more people who want our elections to work than who don't want them to work. And that's important to remember."

Finally, on a somewhat lighter note today, we open up the phone lines to listeners for their thoughts on a) who they would like to see presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden choose as his Vice-Presidential candidate and b) who those same listeners fear he will actually name. Some of the responses from callers may surprise you!...

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Guest: Former operative Allen Raymond suggests plot to tie up Iowa Dem results hotline may involve more than just online 'Trump trolls'
Also: Sanders wins Iowa (but so does Buttigieg) as NH Primary looms; Record heat melts Antarctica; Vindictive Trump fires impeachment witnesses...
By Brad Friedman on 2/7/2020 6:26pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With media reports on Thursday that online "Trump trolls" were making hundreds of calls to tie up the Iowa Democratic Party's results hotline after Monday's Caucuses in order to hold up results and embarrass Democrats, we're joined for an exclusive interview today with stakiomeone who knows a thing or two about such plots. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

In 2002, ALLEN RAYMOND, a then decade-long Republican operative and owner of a GOP phone-bank company, was hired to lead a scheme to tie up the Democratic Get Out the Vote phone lines during that year's very tight New Hampshire U.S. Senate race between Republican John Sununu and the state's then-Governor, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The now-infamous scandal, which included thousands of automated phone calls to prevent Dems from carrying out their GOTV phone-banking effort, ended with a narrow win by Sununu that year. But the scheme was uncovered and four GOP operatives, were eventually convicted of, or pleaded guilty to, taking part in the RNC-funded effort. Raymond was one of them. He pleaded guilty and ended up serving 3 months in federal prison. In 2008, the contrite former operative published a book about that exploit and others during his time as a senior consultant to the Party called How to Rig an Election: Confessions of a Republican Operative.

Raymond joins us today to discuss the 2002 plot in NH, how it came about, and what was behind it, as well as to offer his thoughts about what we should know regarding whatever may have happened to the Democratic Party's hotline on Monday night in Iowa. He is skeptical about whether a few "trolls" on a popular rightwing Internet message board could effectively tie up enough lines to create the kind of chaos that ensued in Iowa, suggesting that its possible the scheme may be larger than currently reported.

"That takes a fairly sustained, collaborated, concerted effort," he explains. "So the question it raises in my mind is, can that happen organically?" Without making any allegations, he is calling for an immediate law enforcement investigation which he says should be able to quickly uncover the source of the phone harassment, the same felony for which he pleaded guilty to years ago in the RNC's NH scheme. "It raises enough suspicion of a coordinated effort that it's worth looking at."

It wouldn't be the first time in even recent months that an emboldened RNC has carried out a similar phone scheme against Democrats. As the New York Times reported last November, Republicans attempted to swamp Congressional Democratic phone lines with thousands of automated calls during the early stages of Donald Trump's impeachment inquiry.

Raymond also shares his thoughts on what has become of the Republican Party in recent years since he was thrown under the bus when the NH plot was uncovered (he is now a registered Democrat); how he and other political operatives justify such dirty tricks and/or illegalities when taking these kind of unsavory and/or unlawful actions in order to win elections; and what American voters should be concerned about as the 2020 election progresses under a Republican Party headed by a vengeful, recently-impeached President.

"This phone disruption effort occurring in the very first contest of the presidential nominating process leading up to November's general election, should be reason enough" to be concerned, he tells me. "If it's happening on the first one, and nothing's done, we're sending a signal that this is the new norm, it's okay, that you will not be punished or prosecuted for this kind of conduct. That's why, at minimum, an aggressive investigation should occur to determine what exactly happened, for the purposes of protecting against the same conduct in the future. Because by not prosecuting, by not investigating, the signal is being sent: 'Hey, we all agree that that stinks but that's okay, go ahead and do it because law enforcement is not going to come knocking on your door.'"

"A republic's center of gravity is its electoral process," Raymond warns. "And if our electoral process is compromised --- whether it be from domestic actors or foreign actors --- that's reason enough to do whatever you can to protect it."

Please tune in for this full, fascinating conversation with someone who has quite a bit of insight on many aspects of all of these matters.

Also on today's show: With the New Hampshire primary days away, AP announces that the chaotic results of Monday in Iowa will prevent them from calling a winner in the Democratic Caucuses, but that doesn't stop us from doing so; Antarctica hits an all-time record 65 degrees, underscoring, yet again, the need to replace a President who is a menace not only to the country's future, but to the entire planet's; Trump fires patriotic Iraq War vet and National Security Counsel Ukraine expert Lt. Col. Alex Vindman and his million-dollar donor EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland for testifying truthfully during the U.S. House Impeachment inquiry; and Steven Colbert has a few thoughts about Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)'s courage and unprecedented vote against Trump in this past week's Senate Impeachment trial...

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Now that Repubs have rigged Impeachment, the 2020 election stands as America's last defense against full-on authoritarianism...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2020 6:03pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Following Friday's shameful vote in the U.S. Senate, where just two Republican Senators were able to muster up the courage to vote against completely blocking all witnesses and documents in the Impeachment Trial of Donald John Trump, we now have just one firewall left against our slide into full authoritarianism: This November's election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

If a President can't be indicted, as the Dept. of Justice falsely claims, and a Republican Senate is more than happy to blatantly rig an impeachment "trial" against a Republican President, the only American firewall left against the collapse of representative democracy as we've known it in this nation is your vote --- and those of every eligible citizen you know --- cast this year and counted as intended. That, as we have warned for many years, is now more difficult than ever in many jurisdictions. Nonetheless, that fight begins tonight in Iowa. (We'll have full coverage of Iowa results on Tuesday's BradCast.)

On today's program, related to all of the above, and before we open up the phones to callers on all of it...

  • We are "flying blind" as we head into the Iowa Caucuses after the weekend cancellation of the final "gold standard" Des Moines Register poll, due to a procedural error. Though Bernie Sanders, according to other last-minute polling, is believed to be the front-runner on the Democratic side as caucusing begins. That said, the Iowa Caucuses are complicated and notoriously difficult to predict, for some of the reasons we explain on today's program;
  • Millions of Vote-by-Mail ballots are, as of today, according to a media statement from the California Sec. of State, now on their way to Golden State voters for the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary, when more than a dozen states will be voting in their 2020 primaries all at once. We, again today, endeavor to explain the complicated procedures that are (sadly) necessary in the Golden State to make sure you are able to vote in the party primary of your choosing, as well as the steps you need to take to make sure you do so on a hand-marked paper ballot in order to maximize the odds of your vote actually being counted as cast.

    To avoid having to cast a 100% unverifiable touchscreen vote if you live in Los Angeles County (where that will be forced upon you at our new "voting centers") or anywhere else where touchscreens are your only choice at the polling place, PLEASE contact your County and ask for a hand-marked paper Vote-by-Mail ballot. Then, PLEASE deliver it IN PERSON to your polling place or County headquarters on Election Day or as close to it as possible. (Check your local jurisdiction to make certain they will accept hand-delivered vote-by-mail ballots!) To check your voter status --- how and if you are registered, and whether you are signed up for Vote-by-Mail --- please see the CA Sec. of State website's Voter Status page here. To request a Vote-by-Mail ballot in L.A. or request a specific party's primary ballot, go to LAVote.net;

  • Everyone must be on board and educated about all of this, this year. With the stakes we are now facing, there is ZERO room for error. Please share good information far and wide, and help your friends and neighbors to register, to vote, and to help spread the word to others about how to do the same thing;
  • Yet another reason for voting on hand-marked paper: I am terrified, for good reason, about the possibility of a ransomware attack that could prevent voters in jurisdictions that now (foolishly and dangerously) rely on computers at the polls for voters to be able to vote at all. One of the latest such attacks/reminders is currently crippling services in Tillamook County, Oregon, where all County computer servers were shut down as of last week due to such an attack. Tillamook is just the latest of dozens of jurisdictions --- states, counties, large and small metropolitan areas --- to be hit by ransomware attacks over the past year. If one occurs on or before Election Day in a county (like L.A.) that now relies on computer pollbooks and voting systems, we will have a disaster on our hands in the upcoming elections;
  • Of course, such a disaster is exactly what Donald Trump is hoping for, given his unpopularity and his repeated attempts to rig both the 2016 and now 2020 elections in his favor through any means necessary. He is now being aided in that effort not only by Republicans in the Senate, but by the Dept. of Justice itself, which is unlawfully withholding documents that prove, yet again, that Trump directed Administration officials to freeze hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine in a pressure campaign to force them to help him cheat in the 2020 election;
  • All of this, as investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald warned in a chilling Twitter thread on Friday after the vote to block all witnesses and documents in Trump's Impeachment Trial, is why "we are in an extremely terrifying moment in American history." Eichenwald cautions that, because Presidential "emergency powers" have never been defined ("because no one ever imagined a situation like this"), Trump could even attempt to cancel this year's election if he wanted and, like Hitler, could even imprison political opponents such as Joe Biden or Bernie Sanders "if he further advances his argument that he [has] absolute unquestionable control of government."

Far fetched? Please tune in to today's show and then let us know, as callers did in the second half of today's program...

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A day full of both historic and chilling news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2019 6:28pm PT  

Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.

The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.

Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.

While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.

Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.

While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.

Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?

Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...

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