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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, December 7, 2022
Warnock Wins GA; Nightmare Election Law Case Heard by SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 12/7/22
Guest: FairVote's David Daley on 'bonkers' Independent State Legislature theory's 'seismic consequences' as weighed by High Court...
TRUMP ORG GUILTY ON
17 COUNTS OF FRAUD:
'BradCast' 12/6/22
But the accountability is only just beginning...
'Green News Report' 12/6/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
FBI probing terror attacks on NC electric grid; Russian missile attacks on civilian targets deepen Ukraine energy crisis; PLUS: EV sales surging in U.S. and around the world...
Recent GNRs: 12/1/22 - 11/29/22 - Archives...
All State-Funded Media is
Not Created Equally:
'BradCast' 12/5/22
Guest: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
Sunday 'Abandon All Hope' Toons
Give it up for PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
AZ Election Super-Geniuses: 'BradCast' 12/2/22
Cochise County ordered to certify results; Lake, Finchem attorneys sanctioned; Also: Warnock campaigner shot in GA; Boebert recount begins in CO; Dems avert rail strike, but about those paid sick days...
Seditious Conspiracy Verdicts and 'Mob Boss' Obstruction: 'BradCast' 12/1/22
Guest: Emptywheel's Marcy Wheeler; Also: Out of work loser, Dr. Oz; Hilarious sentence for GOP vote suppressors; Breaking: 11th Circuit nixes Special Master in Trump docs case...
'Green News Report' 12/1/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
DoJ sues to clean up water supply in Jackson, MS; Mauna Loa shuts global CO2 monitor; New methane rules for drilling; PLUS: Int. Dept to help tribal communities escape rising seas...
Recent GNRs: 11/29/22 - 11/17/22 - Archives...
Good News and Bad News in GA Early Runoff Voting: 'BradCast' 11/30/22
Guest: GA election expert, observer Jeanne Dufort; Also: Dems unite behind new House leadership; Bills passed to help avert rail strike; Meadows ordered to testify in GA...
Fun Times in MAGA Land!: Sedition! Collusion! Denial!: 'BradCast' 11/29/22
Oath Keepers chief 'guilty'; GOP money launderer 'guilty'; AZ Dem SoS/Guv-elect fights to keep Repubs from disenfranchising selves...
'Green News Report' 11/29/22
Breakthrough at U.N. climate conference; Americans at risk of power blackouts; Buffalo, NY buried by blizzard; PLUS: Houston, TX under boil water notice...
We're Back! But Election and Accountability Season Never Left: 'BradCast' 11/28/22
Pillow Guy is running!; Special Counsel wasting no time; Trumpers failed in AK too; Lake still pretending in AZ; Callers have a few thoughts...
Sunday 'Once More Unto the Breach' Toons
And here we go again...into PDiddie's latest post-Turkey toon collection...
Turkey Toons
Gobble gobble! Our thanks to the one and only Pdiddie for a special holiday collection of toons to help you burn off a few calories!...
Debating the Merits of Garland's New Special Counsel: 'BradCast' 11/21/22
Guests: Former DoJ prosecutor Randall D. Eliason of GWU, Const'l law expert John Bonifaz of FSFP; Also: Does the Const. disqualify Trump from 2024?...
Sunday 'Ready or Not' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the past week's most gut-busting political toons...
'Green News Report' 11/17/22
Crunch time for COP27 climate agreement; NASA says sea levels to rise a foot by 2050; Trump's 2024 announce-ment climate lies; PLUS: Climate disinfo surging again...
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: Voice of America's former WH House Bureau Chief, Steve Herman, live in studio; Also: New flu, COVID surge; Russia's latest offensive in Ukraine; Trump calls for 'termination' of U.S. Constitution...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2022 7:11pm PT  

Of course, just as COVID and other respiratory viruses are surging in L.A. (and California, and much of the rest of the country), we have our first in-studio guest on The BradCast since the pandemic. Oh, well. Wish us luck! [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're joined today by the great STEVE HERMAN of Voice of America who spent some 26 years covering various regions in Asia and serving as VOA correspondent and Bureau Chief in India, Korea, Thailand. In 2016, he returned stateside to serve as VOA's Senior Diplomatic Correspondent, for a brief stint, before becoming the eight decade-old, U.S. funded media outlet's White House Bureau Chief. After serving 4 totally easy-peasy years at the White House during the Trump Administration and several months during Biden's, Herman is now on the road as VOA's Chief National Correspondent covering the 2024 campaign. (I know, I know...we're not even done with 2022 around here!)

In a broad, in-studio conversation today --- including questions from listener callers --- we cover, among many other things...

  • Herman's initial visit to the Fukushima nuclear plant just after the 2011 meltdown disaster...without any sort of physical protection! (That was when he first appeared as a guest on our program.)
  • How VOA stands virtually alone as a state-funded news outlet given its special charter, a "firewall" enshrined by federal statute that prevents the government from meddling in its coverage. "The White House, or even the head of our parent agency, the U.S. Agency for Global Media, cannot tell me or my editors what we have to report or cannot report. They cannot be involved editorially," says Herman.
  • How and why that makes VOA different from state-funded propaganda outlets in Russia, China, Iran and elsewhere. "I like to say VOA is probably the only news organization in the world that is mandated by law to be fair and effective," Herman explains. "In that charter it says we must reflect the different views of what's going on in the United States."
  • "Facts are facts," he tells me, regarding so much mis- and disinformation by both the Right and Left. "What they are reporting at RT [Russia Today] and Sputnik is not factual, especially about the war in Ukraine. ... It's a situation that we see from Chinese state media and Iranian state media. And this goes back all the way to why VOA was created after the start of World War II, because you had Nazi Germany on the airwaves, uncontested to a great degree, spitting out anti-American and pro-Nazi propaganda. What VOA was set up to do was to tell the audiences, initially in German and also in Japanese, what's going on with the war, whether it's good or bad."
  • The efforts by the Trump Administration, while Herman served as VOA's WH Bureau Chief, to affect the agency's news coverage and attempts to pressure Herman himself. "When these things have happened over the decades in various administrations, it also demonstrates that VOA is not a propaganda service," he argues. "If it were a propaganda service, we would not be getting complaints from within the United States government on some of the stories we've been doing."
  • - Herman's thoughts on the insane response by Donald Trump over the weekend to Matt Taibbi's "Twitter Files" thread detailing internal discussion/debate among Twitter executives in the run-up to the 2020 election when deciding whether or not to suppress questionably sourced reporting on Hunter Biden's laptop.
  • All of that and much more, including praise for sushi in Los Angeles from a guy who worked for decades in Asia!

Also covered today, a few news headlines at the top of the show...

  • Flu, COVID and other respiratory illness is "off the charts" in California, Los Angeles County and elsewhere around the country.
  • Russia's latest missile assault on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, and the nearly 600 documented cases of apparent war crimes by the aggressor nation since Putin's invasion in February.
  • The apparent coordinated domestic terror attacks on electric substations in Moore County, North Carolina that has knocked out power and water to tens of thousands of residents.
  • Early voting is over and Election Day now awaits on Tuesday in Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and Trump-backed sociopathic liar Hershel Walker.
  • The weekend's aforementioned insane (and largely pointless) Twitter thread by Matt Taibbi, how it has been misreported by MAGA Republicans including Donald Trump, who dishonestly represented the reporting in order to call for "termination" of the U.S. Constitution (seriously!) in its wake...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: 30-year Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: 'Fun' with COVID shots; Enraged Putin unleashes new war crimes on Ukraine civilians; GOP election deniers on 2022 ballot from coast to coast...
By Brad Friedman on 10/10/2022 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It has been nearly two weeks since Hurricane Ian slammed the great state of Florida, leaving behind a swath of destruction across much of the state. Midterm elections, meanwhile, are now just 4 weeks away, but FL's chief elections official --- its Governor, Ron DeSantis --- has yet to approve a plan for how to carry them out amid the rubble. [Audio file to full program follows this summary.]

Last week, Tommy Doyle, Supervisor of Elections in Lee County, home to Fort Myers, the hardest hit part of the state, released a proposal to extend early voting at 12 sites, turning them into Voting Centers where anyone in the County can vote from October 24 through Election Day on November 8. That, in place of the County's normal 97 community precincts, many of which were blown entirely away by Hurricane Ian.

But, according to our guest today, DeSantis has yet to respond to Doyle's proposal, despite the fact that much of the country is already voting in the critical midterms, while many Florida residents do not even have a mailbox left to send vote-by-mail ballots to. Furthermore, as our guest today --- a legendary former Election Supervisor in FL's Leon County (which includes the state capital of Tallahassee) --- notes, allowing the expansion of early voting and use of Voting Centers is now illegal in the state, despite a similar plan to hold elections carried out just after Hurricane Michael in 2018.

The great ION SANCHO, who retired in 2016 after nearly 30 years as Leon County's elections chief, joins us today to detail the very serious --- I would say, critical --- mess the state is currently in when it comes to carrying out the upcoming midterms. DeSantis, a Republican, happens to be running for re-election this year against the Democratic nominee, former Governor Charlie Crist. There is also a very tight race between incumbent GOP Senator Marco Rubio and his Democratic challenger Rep. Val Demings.

Sancho notes that Hurricane Michael, which made landfall in a rural area of the state's panhandle, ended up decreasing turnout there by about 8% in 2018. But Ian hit one of the state's most densely populated areas. "It's a terrible situation," Sancho tells us, describing how "most of the precinct sites have been destroyed." Supervisor Doyle, he explains, has plans to run Voting Centers in Lee County "all the way through Election Day with expanded hours, which is illegal in Florida. You may not have early voting, for example, or a Vote Center open on Monday, or on Election Day."

Many of these problems come thanks to the state GOP's newly discovered hatred for absentee voting and other restrictions on voting passed after 2020 to make it more difficult to do so. Many of the suggestions for how to carry out the elections after Ian are the same as those carried out after an order signed by Gov. Rick Scott following Michael. But now, says Sancho, "we are all on pins and needles. Governor Scott issued his executive order giving the Supervisor of Elections expanded authority to deal with his voters eight days after the hurricane hit. We are now on Day 12 and Governor DeSantis has not told any Supervisor anything."

There are also political considerations likely in play for DeSantis. "He's in a pickle. He needs to provide expanded voting access, and that is made more critical by the fact that the areas that were hit were 2-to-1 Republican over Democrat," Sancho says. "The best that we can hope for is he gives the Supervisor of Elections the same kind of flexibility as Governor Scott gave the Supervisors in the Panhandle to deal with Michael. But [DeSantis] may be loathe to do that because it means he has to recant some of the things that he did this past legislative session."

It's not only Lee County where election plans have been rocked, Sancho explains. "I would count at least 9 counties. It caused a swath of destruction across the state. This is a huge number of voters." Nonetheless, early voting is supposedto begin in the Sunshine State in just two weeks. Whether that can happen remains anyone's guess at this hour. Tune in today for much more on this.

Also on today's show...

  • We got our latest COVID boosters on Friday (and Flu shots along with them, just to up the ante.) How did they go? Tune in to find out. Suffice to say, my experience was, once again, very different from Desi's. But, if you haven't gotten a COVID shot lately, now is not a moment too soon to protect yourself and everyone else from the likely autumn/winter surge.
  • An explosion on the only bridge between Russian-annexed Crimea and the Russian mainland collapsed a portion of it over the weekend, and Russia's main military supply line to its war of aggression against sovereign Ukraine in the south along with it. In response today, Russia's Vladimir Putin doubled down on his many war crimes to date by launching another massive missile strike against nearly a dozen densely populated civilian areas, include Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.
  • Finally, from the war between autocracy and democracy oversees, to the same (if, so far, less bloody) conflict here at home. If they are Republican and on the 2022 ballot, chances are they are a denier of Joe Biden's 2020 Presidential election victory and/or will vote against certification of the next Presidential election if a Democrat is established once again to be the legitimate winner. Many GOP candidates across the country have been shifting their public positions on Trump's evidence-free claims of a stolen 2020 election following the primaries, in hopes of trying to fool more mainstream general election voters. But, don't be fooled. Some, like Mark Finchem, Arizona's GOP nominee for Secretary of State nominee, even claims to be an opponent now of vote-by-mail. ("I don't care for mail-in voting. That's why I go to the polls," he lied at a recent debate, before a public records search revealed last week that he has voted by mail in every election since 2004, and only voted in person this year for the first time since then.)

    A Washington Post analysis last week found "A majority of Republican nominees on the ballot this November for the House, Senate and key statewide offices" are, in fact, election deniers and "running in every region of the country and in nearly every state. Republican voters in three states nominated election deniers in all federal and statewide races The Post examined." That includes critical roles --- such as Governors and Secretaries of State --- responsible for certifying the 2024 Presidential election. We share some of the evidence of those lying, dishonest candidates and their deceptively shifting position presented a threat to American democracy, on today's program...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Guest: Ernest A. Canning on that and CA's big step toward socialized medications; Also: Trump's election theft effort on GA prosecutor's mind; GOP Senate nom no longer an election denier (now that he won the nomination); Patagonia gives away the company to save the planet...
By Brad Friedman on 9/16/2022 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The story of why Americans are still paying the health care price (in both blood and treasure) in 2022 for "free market champion" Ronald Reagan's 1987 Executive Order that gave away the tax-payer store to Big Pharma. Plus, a bunch of other somewhat happier stories. [Audio link to full story is posted below this summary.]

First up today, an update in the still-broadening criminal conspiracy probe by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis into Donald Trump's many faceted and failed efforts to steal the 2020 Presidential election in Georgia. With 17 known "targets" in the probe so far, including Rudy Giuliani and 16 fake Trump electors, the prosecutor tells Washington Post in an exclusive interview that there will be more "targets" announced soon and that she believes some are likely "facing prison sentences." She has yet to decide if the former President will be among them, though, with dozens of witnesses who have already been subpoenaed and testified to her Special Grand Jury in Atlanta, Willis says the Grand Jury should wrap up by year's end. A decision whether to call Trump in to testify --- or declare him a target --- is likely "to be made late this fall," she says.

Next, now that far-right retired Brigadier General and dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy theorist Don Bolduc won the GOP nomination in New Hampshire this week to challenge incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan this November, he's...um...re-evaluating some of his previous positions. During a primary debate with fellow GOP candidates before the primary, he proudly denied Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 election. "I signed a letter with 120 other Generals and Admirals saying that Trump won the election and, dammit, I stand by my words!," Bolduc bravely declared to cheers from Party faithful. When asked about his position this week on Fox "News," however, after winning the GOP nomination, Bolduc hemmed and hawed his newly discovered belief after "a lot of research on this", finding the 2020 "election was not stolen" and that "President Biden is the legitimate President of this country." Granite Staters will undoubtedly fall for his pretend new "moderate" line, right?

Then, newly reformulated COVID vaccine booster shots from both Pfizer and Moderna, designed to combat both the classic coronavirus and several newer Omicron variants, are now available to the general public in the U.S. The White House and CDC are recommending Americans get the new shot by Halloween to lessen the chance of infection --- or killing your grandmother --- over Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when a new surge is expected. (They also recommend getting a flu shot at the same time.)

But why are new COVID vaccines even necessary more than two years into the pandemic? One reason is thanks to the fact that, despite tens of billions of tax-payer dollars given by the federal government to private companies for the development of the life-saving vaccines, the private pharmaceutical giants who make them refuse to give up their patent and intellectual property rights to make the vaccines available to the world. That means new variants continue to emerge, leading to more infections and the need for updated vaccines and, yes, more profit for Big Pharma. It's a pretty nice deal...for them.

So, how did we get here? We're joined today by ERNEST A. CANNING, longtime legal analyst at The BRAD BLOG, who recently took a deep dive into a 1987 Executive Order by Ronald Reagan that gifted patents and profits that go with them to huge, for-profit pharmaceutical companies that used tax-payer dollars to develop their inventions. That, from the Republican idol who, ironically, once declared: "We who live in free market societies believe that growth, prosperity and ultimately human fulfillment, are created from the bottom up, not the government down."

The pharmaceutical industry may disagree, even if they won't say so out-loud. "No matter how big a company and how much money was poured in by federal government for research and development, the patent would belong to the giant company," Canning explains. "We've been paying, just in general research, about $28 billion in pharmaceutical R&D every year." Given the "value of those patents," he notes, "we're talking trillions of dollars in a gift, not just tens of billions."

He also explains how all of this came about (beginning with Jimmy Carter) and why its now so difficult for Joe Biden to merely repeal Reagan's Executive Order in regard to the COVID vaccines.

But Canning also offers some brighter news related to patent abuse by Big Pharma, which he also recently wrote about at The BRAD BLOG. In a landmark initiative, the state of California is now fighting back. Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced the state will begin manufacturing insulin and will make the hundred-year old drug available for just slightly more than it costs to produce. Canning explains why that has become necessary as Big Pharma takes advantage of loopholes in Intellectual Property laws to bilk diabetics with outrageous prices for the inexpensive, life-saving medicine.

Finally, a private company that is --- shockingly enough --- apparently doing the right thing for the country and the world. (What?!) The family that owns outdoor gear brand Patagonia, headed up by its 83-year old founder, announced this week that they will be "making Earth our only shareholder". While the company will remain a for-profit entity, currently valued at around $3 billion, it will now begin giving away all profits --- about $100 million a year --- to two newly created entities, a trust and a non-profit, both devoted to combating our climate crisis.

(Any chance we can coax Patagonia into the pharmaceutical business while we're at it?!)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Dismantling pharmaceutical monopolies begins with repealing his 1987 Executive Order giveaway...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/14/2022 11:05am PT  

We should be both relieved and outraged!

Relieved that, earlier this month, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new round of booster shots specifically re-designed to address new variants of the deadly COVID virus.

Outraged because, despite the expenditure of tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars on research and development (R&D), the pharmaceutical industry's refusal to waive its "gifted" patent rights prevented a global rollout of the COVID vaccines. In turn, that refusal resulted in the need for the new booster shots.

Outraged because the industry's refusal to waive their patent rights has produced "excess mortality" with COVID that, as of the beginning of this month, has killed at least 6.5 million people worldwide, with no end in sight.

Outraged because this will, in all likelihood, not be the last newly reconstituted booster shot needed. It is the considered opinion of two thirds of the world's epidemiologists that the failure to provide global vaccinations will give rise to mutations that "could render current COVID vaccines ineffective."

And, yes, the patent rights were, indeed, a gift --- from the United States to the Pharmaceutical Industry...

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




Can Dems finally pass the critical Schumer/Manchin compromise bill to save the climate (and maybe themselves)?; Also: Biden's 'rebound'; KY's death toll; Tuesday's primaries; And callers ring in...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2022 6:16pm PT  

In our opinion, on today's BradCast, the scaled back, surprise "Build Back Better" spending bill compromise (now renamed the "Inflation Reduction Act" to help win over West Virginia's rightwing Democratic Senator) comes not a moment too soon. And, even "scaled back", it's still chocked full of so much stuff that if each of its provisions were passed in separate bills over the past 18 months, we'd likely be discussing Joe Biden as having one of the most successful first two years of any President in history. That said, the bill has not yet been passed, and it could still be a very bumpy ride in the coming days to see it through to the President's signature. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Before we get to that today --- and some callers on same --- a few other headlines covered on today's show...

  • Minutes before airtime, news broke that the U.S. killed Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan over the weekend in a successful drone strike, in which no civilians are said to have been killed. President Biden was to give remarks about what happened on Monday evening.
  • Speaking of Biden, he tested positive for COVID again over the weekend, in what White House officials are describing as a "rare rebound" case after finishing his 5-day course of the anti-viral drug called Paxlovid. Well, it can't be ALL that rare, because last week, when the White House announced Biden had tested negative and was cleared to leave isolation, we warned about the possibility of such a rebound, as many Paxlovid users have experienced same. The Pfizer drug has very good results at preventing serious cases and hospitalization, but many patients have experienced a second --- non-fatal --- COVID infection shortly after using it. That is, apparently, the case with Biden. His White House doctor says he has few if any symptoms and will likely be fine, despite needing to isolate again.
  • Deadly flash flooding continues in parts of Kentucky today, and warnings for more of the same have been issued for the next several days from Tennessee to Kentucky to West Virginia to Virginia and North Carolina. 37 have so far been confirmed to have died from the horrific flooding in Eastern Kentucky. Governor Andy Beshear believes that toll will continue to rise, as hundreds are still unaccounted for in a number of Appalachian mountain towns after recent, and ongoing, deluges. That, as our climate emergency continues with record heat predicted again this week from the Dakotas to the East Coast.
  • On Tuesday, voters will head to the polls in six states: Ohio, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington state for primary elections. And there are a lot of 2020 election deniers (and worse) on the GOP ballots. We quickly preview just a few of those insane races today and will have noteworthy reported results, of course, on Wednesday's program.

Then, it's on to the so-called Inflation Reduction Act --- a scaled down version of the Build Back Better Act that Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema killed last year. If successfully adopted this time, it would increase federal revenue by some $750 billion over the next ten years, allowing for some $450 billion in spending on a bunch of several long-overdue programs. Most of them have been progressive priorities for years.

Only Democrats in the U.S. Senate will be needed to pass it under Senate reconciliation rules, but all 50 will have to be there (not out with COVID) and vote yes. Sinema has yet to comment on the measure, even as Manchin has been taking to media over the weekend to try and sell her on it.

If passed, the 725-page measure [PDF] will: Allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices; Cap out-of-pocket spending on prescription drugs for seniors at $2,000 per year; Expand federal subsidies for premiums for individuals who purchase health insurance on the federal Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) exchanges; Set a minimum 15% tax for corporations who make more than $1 billion in profits per year; Increase policing of tax cheats; and, perhaps most critically, invest some $369 billion in climate and energy projects to cut deadly greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030 through investments that hasten the nation's move from dirty fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy.

What the bill won't do is raise taxes on anyone making less than $400,000 a year, as Biden has long promised. That, despite blatant lies from Republicans such as Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) who, when announcing he tested positive for COVID today, lied about the bill, declaring on Twitter that he will "continue to fight Chuck Schumer and Joe Manchin's massive tax increase on working families." That is a lie. There is no "massive tax increase on working families" in the bill. Republicans hope you are dumb enough to be duped to the contrary.

In order to win over Manchin, whose family and campaign have long been propped up by fossil fuel interests, the bill does mandate oil and gas lease sales on federal lands be auctioned off in exchange for the approval of on- and off-shore wind and solar projects. Even there, however, oil and gas companies will be required to pay higher royalties on whatever they extract, and will be fined for failing to prevent methane leaks that exacerbate global warming. So, yeah. Art of the compromise. But, according to most climate experts we've read, heard from or spoken with, it's a compromise well worth taking..and comes not a moment too soon, as our climate emergency worsens by the day.

We've got much more on all of the above on today's show, and we open up the phone lines to callers to get some of their thoughts on the "Inflation Reduction Act" as the world melts down, and the 2022 primary general election is now less than 100 days away...

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Guest: Adrian Martinez of Earthjustice; Also: Biden's back from COVID...
By Brad Friedman on 7/27/2022 6:20pm PT  

We've got some surprisingly good-ish news throughout today's BradCast. Given the grim days of late, we apologize in advance for any confusion. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Last night, not long after we got off air, there were two pieces of encouraging news on the possibility of seeing criminal accountability against our disgraced former President and his multiple failed attempts to steal the 2020 election. One of those encouraging items was an interview with Attorney General Merrick Garland on NBC News, in which Garland reiterated, yet again, that the DoJ is working diligently "to bring to justice everybody who's criminally responsible for interfering with the peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another."

The second, was an exclusive report from Washington Post confirming that "The Justice Department is investigating President Donald Trump’s actions as part of its criminal probe of efforts to overturn the 2020 election results." Many have been questioning for months whether that has been the case, even as a number of guests on this program have repeatedly made the case that Garland and the DoJ are, in fact, proceeding exactly as they would expect if such an investigation was under way. The Post story now seems to confirm that.

Moreover, their reporting also includes several enticing new details, such as the fact that DoJ has, as early as April, retrieved phone records from senior officials in Trump World, including his former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows; that the probe is broad and is specifically asking federal grand jury witnesses about Trump's orders to attorneys and staffers and about his White House meetings in December of 2020 and January of 2021; and includes a number of subpoenas that appear to suggest a whole bunch of top Team Trumpers are actively being targeted by the probe in addition to Trump himself.

And today, CNN is reporting that Meadows' deputy, Cassidy Hutchinson --- who offered bombshell testimony recently to the bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump's attempts to steal the 2020 election --- is now cooperating with federal prosecutors. Additionally, Trump's former Communications Director, Alyssa Farah Griffin, told the news outlet today that she was "aware of other White House officials who have been reached out to by DOJ and are planning to cooperate."

So, yeah, there's some good news for today. But that's not all we have for you.

Earlier this year, we reported in detail on the U.S. Postal Service's outrageous plan to purchase 165,000 much-needed new delivery trucks. But, under the direction of their corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed during the Trump Administration, a phony economic and environmental study resulted in a deal with a defense contractor that would result in 90% of those vehicles being gas-guzzlers that got just over 8 miles per gallon, while only 10% of the purchase would be for clean, electric vehicles. That, despite our ever-worsening climate emergency and the USPS Inspector General determining that 95% of current routes could, in fact, be handled by EVs.

President Biden has vowed to shift the entire federal fleet to all-electric vehicles by 2035, when he has targeted cutting deadly greenhouse gas emissions by half (on the way to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050). When this corrupt deal came to light, it was opposed by the White House, 16 states and the District of Columbia, as well as a number of environmental groups who filed lawsuits against the quasi-independent government agency.

Well, good(ish) news! Last week, the Postal Service announced they would purchase four times as many EVs as originally planned, increasing the percentage in the new fleet from 10% to 40%.

"The good news is that public pressure is starting to work," our guest today, ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney at Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law group, tells us. His organization is one of several who filed suit against the Postal Service's original plan to purchase 150,000 gas-powered trucks that would produce roughly the same amount of global warming carbon dioxide as 4.3 million internal combustion passenger vehicles.

Martinez joined us back in February, when he explained the trucks would end up comprising about 30% of the federal government's huge automotive fleet and would burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime.

"We still have a lot more work to be done," he says today, responding to the positive news and citing "more than 100,000 emails to the Postal Service" his group helped facilitate. "It's litigation, it's the public correspondence with the Postal Service, and the public pressure working. We've still got a long way to go with them, but it shows you that the more you weigh in, the more you can make progress."

We discuss the scam that has resulted in contractor Oshkosh Defense procuring this contract despite never having manufactured any EVs, and the company's plan to build the USPS trucks at a new non-union facility in South Carolina, instead of their union shop in Wisconsin. We also discuss how it is even possible that DeJoy is still in his post and how new nominees to the USPS Board of Governors may be able to eventually remove him and change the equation on all of this.

"This is a fleet that should be 100% electric," Martinez argues. "We're now seeing shifts in this agency, and what I take is that we need to put even more pressure on the agency to get them where they need to be. This is so many vehicles, and so much oil that we can prevent from being burned, that the stakes are really high."

"Getting everyone to put pressure on this is important," he explains. "This is one of the largest, if not the largest vehicle procurement in history, so we can't get this wrong."

Finally today, in just a bit more good news, President Biden is no longer in isolation from his bout with COVID. After two negative tests, last night and this morning, he looked and sounded much better as he offered his first in-person public remarks in the Rose Garden before heading into the Oval Office for the first time in almost a week. In his remarks, some of which we share today, the 79-year old President credited vaccinations, boosters and anti-viral treatments --- which are now free for all Americans --- for his largely minor symptoms and quick recovery...

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Guest: Sarah Lipton-Lubet of Take Back the Court; Also: Biden positive for COVID; Report finds Newsmax lying even more than Fox 'News' about J6...
By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2022 4:08pm PT  

When you thought things couldn't get any more insane (nobody actually thought that, did they?), 79-year old President Biden tests positive for COVID. The White House says he is suffering only "very mild symptoms". We'll hope it stays that way and he gets well soon. Meanwhile, we're still busy trying to save the world on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Tonight, the bipartisan House Select Committee investigating Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his many other attempts to steal the 2020 Presidential election, holds the last of their summer series of blockbuster public hearings, for now. We'll see if Fox "News" bothers to carry this one, since they didn't last time, choosing to run an ad-free episode of Tucker Carlson's show instead. God forbid their groomed viewers turn away during commercials for even a second and learn any actual news.

But, of course, Fox isn't the only rightwing TV channel lying to their viewers day in and out about these remarkable, historic hearings, the deadly events of January 6, and all of the other ways Trump tried undermine American democracy. A new report finds that Newsmax is duping their viewers even worse than Fox, if that's possible, broadcasting at least 40 false claims about the J6 attack since the Committee's hearings began last month. Among the station's lies peddled repeatedly to their easily-played viewers: There were only a few hundred rioters in the Capitol that day (DoJ pegs the number at around 2,000); They were "unarmed" (except for all of the guns, knives, pepper spray, spears, brass knuckles, baseball bats, etc.); and that Trump ordered the National Guard to the Capitol, but was blocked by Nancy Pelosi (the President, not the Speaker of the House, commands the National Guard.)

In any event, whether Fox or Newsmax carry tonight's hearings and/or lies about them, we'll tell you the truth about them on our own Special Coverage on tomorrow's BradCast.

Today, we discuss the need for the long-overdue expansion of the Supreme Court. New polling finds approval of the Court has plummeted over the past two years. According to Marquette University Law School's poll today, 66% of Americans approved of SCOTUS in September of 2020. That number is now at stunning 38%. Their survey follows Gallup's recent finding (before the overturning of Roe v. Wade) that confidence in the Court is at an all-time historic low since they began asking the question in the 1970s.

Of course, this comes on the heels of Mitch McConnell nuking the Senate filibuster in order to pack the High Court with Donald Trump's three corrupt, extremist Republican nominees, including one of them (Amy Coney Barrett) just eight days before the 2020 election. That, after McConnell had changed the size of the Court for over a year while refusing to seat Barack Obama's nominee to the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia in February of 2016, because, according to Mitch, the vacancy came just too close to a Presidential election, when the voice of the American people deserved to be heard first.

But now, with SCOTUS closing out its term with an unprecedented spate of radical rulings --- rolling back long-held Miranda rights; throwing out states Second Amendment rights to well-regulate the concealed carry of firearms; further eroding the long-standing Constitutional separation of church and state; blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from protecting the environment through the regulation of carbon pollution; and, of course, overturning the privacy rights and reproductive freedoms established 50 years ago by Roe v. Wade --- it sure seems like a re-balancing (and de-corrupting) is in order!

Given the striking down of privacy rights in Roe, Democrats in the House have been scrambling to codify reproductive freedom into federal law, along with bills that guarantee the right to both interracial and same-sex marriage, and even the right to use contraception. That, after the Court struck down the same privacy rights in 'Roe' that are the basis of those other Constitutional rights that Justice Clarence Thomas called for revisiting in his concurrence to the majority opinion overturning Roe.

But while codifying those rights into federal statute is critical (most House Republicans voted against all of them this week!), expanding the Court, to UNpack and UNsteal it, so that it represents the American people once again is even more critical.

On Monday, a group of Democratic lawmakers called for exactly that, touting their Judiciary Act of 2021 [PDF] which would expand the number of seats on the Court from 9 to 13. But that measure, so far, has not yet even received a Committee hearing, much less a vote on the Democratic-controlled House floor. What gives?

We're joined today by SARAH LIPTON-LUBET, Executive Director of the non-profit Take Back the Court organization, to discuss exactly that. Her group was formed in 2018 to warn of the danger then posed to democracy itself by the GOP's stolen Supreme Court, and to call for its expansion as the only strategy to re-balance SCOTUS after its 2016 theft. [We spoke with Aaron Belkin, the group's founder, back in 2020.)

"Republicans already changed the size of the Court for a year while they blockaded Merrick Garland's nomination. So a Republican power grab, that's just a part of reality. Given that, isn't a world where we fight for what's right better than a world where we surrender unilaterally?," Lipton-Lubet posits today, when I ask her about the fear expressed by some Democrats that Republicans will just take similar action the next time they are in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House. "To folks who are worried about what Republicans might do in the future, I have to say I'm really worried about what they've done already, and about what we need to do to fix the harm that they've caused in the here and now. They've stolen the Court. They've overturned Roe. They've undermined our democracy. And expanding the Court is our only shot at rebalancing the system and regaining those rights."

"This is only headed in one direction," she warns. "The ideologues on the Court are only going to get more radical. They're only going to get more unhinged. I think leaders can lead, or they try to play catch-up later after countless people have been irreparably harmed. And that's really the situation we're in."

"Living under the control of this Court --- it's not tenable. It's not sustainable. It's not going to stand," she argues. "Eventually we are going to get there." So, why are the bulk of elected Democrats, including the President, still pulling their punches and dragging their feet on this? We discuss that and much more with Lipton-Lubet today.

Finally, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report on a week that has been so grim for the climate that we're considering a new name for our GNR. Tune in to find out what it might be!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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J6 Comm subpoenas McCarthy, four other Reps; Fed grand jury probes Trump handling of classified docs; Eastman advised how to steal PA's 2020 election; House finds meatpackers colluded with Trump Admin for deadly COVID Exec Order; DeSantis' FL gerrymander nixed by judge...
By Brad Friedman on 5/12/2022 6:55pm PT  

It's another one of those BradCasts where our disgraced former President casts a very long shadow. We've got way too much breaking news, as one accountability story after another broke today. Theoretically, that's a good thing. But you may need to take notes. We've got a lot to cover. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • First up, after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently overruled his own far-right state legislature's already-gerrymandered new U.S. House map in favor of his own even more extreme gerrymander, a state judge that HE appointed has shut that whole thing down. For now. On Wednesday, Judge J. Layne Smith determined DeSantis' map --- which could give Republicans a 20 to 8 advantage in the their U.S. House delegation --- violates the state Constitution's 2010 Fair Districts Amendment "because it diminishes African Americans' ability to elect the representatives of their choice." Of course, that was the whole point when DeSantis --- who won his race for Governor in 2018 by less than one percentage point --- nixed two black majority districts in the state (one of which was created by the state Supreme Court the last time the map was challenged.) DeSantis believes his own state Constitution violates the U.S. Constitution. (So much for the states' rights he used to pretend to believe in.) So, Florida will now be paying for an appeal to fight for the voter disenfranchisement.
  • The House January 6 Committee on Thursday subpoenaed House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, as well as Reps. Jim Jordan of Ohio, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Andy Biggs of Arizona and Mo Brooks of Alabama. The Committee says they each "participated in meetings at the White House" and/or "had direct conversations with President Trump leading up to and during the attack on the Capitol." All five were previously invited to voluntary speak to the Committee. They didn't. Now they are receiving what appear to be unprecedented Congressional subpoenas to members of Congress from the bipartisan panel probing Trump's 2021 insurrection and his attempt to steal the 2020 election.
  • The New York Times is reporting today that federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury probe into whether laws were violated when Trump absconded with 15 boxes full of items and documents --- including some marked as classified national security documents --- when he left the White House for Mar-a-Lago. The items belong to to the American people under the Presidential Records Act, but the larger question is about his treatment of boxes and boxes of classified documents. (Recall he used to pretend to care about such things. In 2016, when running against Hillary Clinton, he called for her to be "locked up" because she lawfully used a private email server and received or forwarded several documents with classified material in them.) A grand jury convened by DoJ would suggest this matter has advanced very quickly.
  • Speaking of grand juries, just a friendly reminder that Fulton County (Atlanta) District Attorney Fanni Willis convened her Special Grand Jury last week on Monday, May 2. She's investigating Trump's conspiracy to steal the 2020 election in Georgia, following his infamous and threatening call to the state's Sec. of State, instructing him to "find" just enough votes to name Trump the winner there. The probe could bring charges any day now (not that we have any insider knowledge) of a criminal conspiracy that includes Trump, his Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, his attorney Rudy Giuliani and even North Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, all of whom participated in strong-arming the Sec. of State and other officials to steal the election for Trump who lost the state by about 10,000 votes.
  • Emails unearthed by the Denver Post and reported by Politico this week from Trump's MAGA attorney John Eastman (who spoke at Trump's rally on January 6 and wrote the memos calling for VP Mike Pence to ignore the Electoral College votes to steal the election for Trump), reveal that he also advised a Pennsylvania state legislator how to steal the election for Trump in the state by tossing out legal votes and using absurd pretend math to declare Joe Biden lost, even though he won there by about 85,000 votes. Eastman told PA state Rep. Paul Diamond how Republicans in the legislature could change the results to "provide cover" for choosing Trump electors instead of the ones for Biden who the voters actually elected.
  • Trump's corruption was also deadly for hundreds of thousands when it came to the COVID pandemic. As President Biden marked the passing of one million Americans due to coronavirus at the White House on Thursday, a new report from a House Select Subcommittee finds the nation's meat packing industry hyped "baseless" concerns about shortages and colluded with top Trump Admin officials --- including Meadows, Pence Chief of Staff Marc Short and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue --- to invoked an Executive Order. The order, which the industry drafted, invoked the Defense Production Act to bar state officials from shutting down meatpacking plants during the first year of the pandemic. At least 269 industry workers died, 59,000 were infected, and an estimated 334,000 infections nationwide were tied to meatpacking plants where workers were forced to work in dangerous, close conditions. The industry got their Executive Order from Trump, barring plant shutdowns under the lie that the nation's food supply was at risk. As the Committee's report finds, in fact, the five major companies which comprise the industry in the U.S. saw record profits during the pandemic, and saw pork exports at a three-year high during the first three quarters of 2020 when they sent more than 300% more pork to China than in normal years. There ought to be a lot of criminal charges --- including for homicide --- brought here. We'll see if anyone pays a price for it.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as Australia's Great Barrier Reef is hit with yet another climate change-induced mass bleaching event; a new study finds climate change is a key concern regarding the emergence of new viruses and pandemics; new severe drought restrictions are enacted in Arizona and California...but last year, at least, was a very good one for renewable energy across the globe...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/12/2022 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Australia's Great Barrier Reef hit with another mass coral bleaching event; Global warming a key factor in the emergence of new diseases, study confirms; Interior Dept. cancels offshore oil and gas lease sales; PLUS: Arizona and California move to enact more severe drought restrictions... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 13 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Southwest's fires and droughts are a window into our climate change future; Salt Scourge: the dual threat of warming and rising salinity; Trump asked aides about China's "Hurricane Weapon"; California lays out plan to drastically cut fossil fuel use; North Carolina offshore wind energy lease winners announced; Climate change activist's self-immolation raises questions of faith and protest; U.S. gasoline prices hit a new high, but the oil market may signal relief; Exxon doubles down on 'advanced recycling' claims that yield few results... PLUS: Coming this summer: spiking electricity bills plus blackouts... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Don't be afraid to keep your mask on! Also: Twitter bans climate change denialist ads. Will 'free speech absolutist' Musk keep the ban in place?...
By Brad Friedman on 4/26/2022 6:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: When the hot debates die down, the liars, of late, having been trying to claim (false) victory. Let's not let them, shall we? [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

We're seeing a lot of that in recent days when it comes to, for example, Russia's help for Donald Trump election in 2016 (yes, it actually happened, despite the disinformed denialists now opportunistically claiming otherwise) and, as we focus on today's program, on those pretending that the CDC and other public health officials had it all wrong about COVID. They didn't. And just because we're all really sick and tired of the continuing pandemic and discussion of COVID in the news has largely been overtaken by other pressing matters, the deadly virus is still killing hundreds of Americans each day. That, after nearly 1,000,000 Americans were killed over the past two and half years. Please don't let the anti-mask and anti-vaccine bullies mislead or cow you.

We never enjoy being the bearer of bad news (it just seems to be our lot in life of late), but a new COVID sub-variant of Omicron, known as BA.2.12.1, is apparently the most transmissible yet, and it is quickly rising across the nation (and world). Some facts you may want to know about that today, why you should get your shots if you haven't already, and why you shouldn't bow to pressure from anyone to not wear a mask indoors if you damned well feel like it.

Also, the Vice President tested positive today. Thankfully, because she is double-vaccinated and boosted, she is, so far at least, said to be asymptomatic. Many others are not quite as lucky, particularly the unvaccinated, many children, and, in particular, those who live in states run by Republicans like Florida Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis. He is still turning up the heat on his lies that critics of his failed COVID policies --- the state banned mask mandates and forced schools to remain open when they shouldn't have --- were wrong, and that he was right.

Well, if death rates in states like Florida and Georgia last year, which were two to three times those in blue states per capita, are considered to be "right", then I guess I'm glad I don't live in such states. But I'd still like to help those who do. Yes, as Axios reported late last month, based on then-new CDC numbers, "America's political divisions are now on display in mortality rates."

Sadly, Florida, with its more than 73,000 COVID deaths, is a perfect example. As Axios Tampa Bay reported, "Death rates in Florida and Georgia (more than 200 deaths per 100,000) were much higher than in states with largely vaccinated populations such as New York (112 per 100,000), New Jersey (73 deaths per 100,000), and Massachusetts (50 per 100,000)." And, based on data comparing deaths that would normally be expected, "Between August and December 2021, Florida experienced more than triple the number of excess deaths (29,252) as New York (8,786), despite both states having similar population counts."

That didn't stop DeSantis, during his State of the State address earlier this year, from lying to his constituents: "We would not allow fear or politics to harm our kids. We were right and they wrong and millions of families in Florida are better for it." Sure. Unless you count the tens of thousands of Florida families mourning the unnecessary loss of their loved ones thanks to DeSantis' deadly lies and horrific COVID policies.

In other news of note late last week, on Earth Day, Twitter announced a long overdue policy banning advertisements purchased to push climate change denialism. We'll see if they actually carry it out. But, perhaps more of note, since Elon Musk's $44 billion purchase of the social media company was announced on Monday, it will be interesting to see if the self-proclaimed "free speech absolutest" and CEO of Tesla, the company almost single-handedly responsible for kicking off the planet's electric vehicle revolution, will keep the ban in place as he takes the company private to use as his own personal plaything. (P.S. The entire story of Musk's purchase of Twitter serves as still more evidence that taxes are way way too low for rich people and corporations!)

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for a chocked-full-o'-news Green News Report, as we try to get you all caught up with all of the climate related stuff of note that you missed while we dared take a much-needed Spring Break last week...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Eric Kramer of Arizonans for Fair Elections; Also: Good news on the economy, unions, COVID and cannabis!; Plus: Annoy a Nazi!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2022 6:54pm PT  

Yes, on today's BradCast, we discuss a new, maddening --- and likely unconstitutional --- voter suppression law signed this week by Arizona's Republican Governor. But, as our guest notes, "Don't worry, we've got this!" We'll see. He's got a plan in response that voters in other swing-states may wish to look at as well. Other than that though, today's show ends your week with nothin' but good news! (Mostly.) [Audio link to full toe-tappin' show is posted below this summary.]

First up, good news on COVID! According to the Dept. of Health and Human Services, hospitalizations are now at their lowest rate since the U.S. began keeping records at the beginning of the pandemic two years ago. Of course, last time hospitalizations where near this low we got slammed by Delta and then Omicron shortly thereafter. So, hey, now's a great time to get a vaccine shot or a booster if you haven't in the past 4 months or so!

Then, more good news on the economy! 431,000 new jobs were added in March, as Americans continue to shake off the pandemic, even amid war in Europe and inflation. Since Joe Biden took office, the economy has added a record 7.9 million jobs. Unemployment is the lowest it's been since before the pandemic and barely higher than the nation has seen in a half-century, as the President did some justifiable crowing about those numbers today. Things would be even better had Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin allowed his Build Back Better bill to pass, given that many more women are needed to fill millions of open jobs, but can't afford the child care (that BBB would have paid for) in order to take them.

But there's still more good news today, for workers and labor unions! Amazon employees in deep red Republican Staten Island, New York voted "yes" to unionize in an historic labor win at the only fulfillment center in New York City! It's the first Amazon facility in the U.S. to do so, but it likely means many others will join them. Another unionization vote at Amazon's fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama remains too close to call for the moment. It's the second such vote held at that plant after the National Labor Relations Board found that Amazon had cheated in the first vote and ordered a re-do.

Speaking of cheating in elections: Republicans. Though it may make your head (and mine) explode, mid-term primaries are beginning to kick off all over the country. The first one, last month in Texas, resulted in tens of thousands of disenfranchised absentee voters whose ballots were rejected thanks to the state GOP's new voter suppression law there.

We had slightly better news this week in Florida. There, a federal judge struck down several provisions of the new voter suppression law adopted last year by the GOP-dominated state legislature and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis (who barely won his initial election back in 2018). U.S. District Judge Mark Walker found that the law unlawfully targeted black voters in violation of both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Most notably, he ordered the state back under the VRA's preclearance regime for the next decade, mandating approval in advance from the federal government for any new election-related laws that may effect minority voters.

Republicans in Arizona, however, have been running a bit behind in their voter suppression. But, on Wednesday this week, the state's Governor Doug Ducey, also facing re-election this year, signed HB 2492 [PDF], even though legislative attorneys in both the state House and Senate found the measure to be likely unconstitutional. In short, it requires state voters to prove they are citizens before they may vote for candidates in state and local elections. But it goes farther than previous such laws in the state. This one could disenfranchise anywhere from 31,000 to nearly 200,000 voters in a state where Democrats won the Presidential election in 2020 by just over 10,000 votes. It would prevent voters who fail to prove their citizenship (or can afford to do so) from voting for either state officials or President. They may still be able to vote for members of Congress, but not during either early voting or via absentee ballot.

We're joined today by ERIC KRAMER, former Chair of the Navajo County Democrats, now Director of the Arizona Deserves Better non-profit coalition to discuss HB 2492 and, more importantly, what he and other voting rights advocates in the state are currently doing to both overturn such measures and prevent even worse ones from being adopted at any time in the future with their new Arizonans for Fair Elections ballot initiative.

We first learned of the effort via DailyKos, where Kramer writes as "EricAZ". Two articles of his there caught our eye in particular. The first, in early March, was headlined "Arizona Right-Wing Goes Batshit Crazy in Attack on Voters (Don’t Worry, We’ve Got This)". The second, a few weeks later, is titled, "The Joy of Soon Beating the U.S. Supreme Court on Several Voting Rights Issues".

Kramer explains how the AZ Fair Elections initiative, targeted for inclusion on the ballot this November, would work to prevent the kind of voter suppression we have been seeing from the increasingly extremist Republican radicals who now control the AZ state legislature. It would roll back laws like HB 2492 and prevent similarly disenfranchising laws from being adopted in an election year. It would also repeal a number of other laws recently adopted by state Republicans which target minority voters (Native Americans in particular), while instituting proactive measures to increase voter turnout, rather than block it, as the GOP is now working so hard to do there and elsewhere.

"In addition to these places where we're kind of playing defense against what they've done to voters in the past, there are some where we are playing offense," Kramer explains in detailing the voter referendum. "We have automatic voter registration. We have Election Day registration. We expand the periods for early voting. And we do quite a lot to help Native American voters and especially disabled voters --- we give more opportunities to vote. So it is a very good initiative."

Can his group, which is currently in the signature gathering process, get the measure onto the ballot in November? And, if so, can they get it passed? "We are going to get it done," he tells me confidently. "We need 243,000 signatures [by July 7] to get on the ballot. We're currently collecting at more than twice the rate we need. Fundraising has gone well. People from all over the country are supporting this. We will get it done."

You can get more information on the initiative --- in case you'd like to support it or consider something similar in your own state --- at the website for the Arizonans for Fair Elections initiative (azfe.org).

Finally, we close with even more good news and a song!

Our final good news for the day is about cannabis. U.S. House Democrats, with almost zero help from Republicans, adopted a measure today to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, though it will still have to overcome a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate. That, despite the American public's overwhelming support not just for decriminalizing cannabis, but for fully legalizing it once and for all. Not sure why the GOP would be dumb enough to take a pass on shooting the measure down again, as they did back in 2020 when they held the majority in the upper chamber, but explaining Republican stupidity is not my strong suit.

But to keep you happy and singing well into the weekend, we close with a new ditty from Canadian comedian and "The Internet's Favourite Dad* (*unproven)", according to his Twitter profile, Stewart Reynolds, who sings that "it's nice to be disliked!"...So "annoy a Nazi" today!...

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Guest: Legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern of Slate; Also: Major new study confirms Ivermectin ineffective as COVID treatment...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2022 7:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast, one of our favorite guests is back to explain why the wildly corrupt Thomases, as horrible as they are, may be one of the least of our concerns when it comes to what the rest of the GOP's wildly corrupt --- not to mention stolen and packed --- U.S. Supreme Court may now be moving toward.[Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

First up, however, a major new, peer-reviewed, double-blind study released in full today, finds what many have been trying to make clear for quite some time: There is no legitimate evidence that the anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin, most commonly used to de-worm horses, has any positive effect as a treatment for COVID.

In fact, as one part of the huge new Brazilian study found, placebo pills were actually more effective than Ivermectin! Dr. Andrew Hill, a virologist at the University of Liverpool in England, whose early analysis (since retracted) of several smaller studies (at least one of which appears to have been fraudulent) was frequently cited for evidence of the drug's effectiveness, appears now to concur that the new Brazilian study pretty much removes all doubt. Ivermectin is of no use in treating COVID. We now have a pretty large body of evidence demonstrating that is true no matter what clownish TV doctors and profiteers and misinformation specialists on Fox "News" or Joe Rogan's podcast have to say about it.

That said, there are safe and effective (and free) ways to avoid the worst effects of COVID, which peer-reviewed studies have confirmed. They include the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. Actual professional virologists, epidemiologists and both the CDC and FDA strongly recommend them, as do we. Earlier this week the FDA authorized a second booster shot for anyone over 50 who hasn't received a shot in the past four months. Please get one and let's end this goddamn pandemic once and for all. Thanks.

On to our main topic(s) today, as we're joined by the always great, always illuminating, and pretty much always-right-about-everything MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal journalist from Slate.com who smartly covers the law, the court system, the U.S. Supreme Court, election law, LGBTQ issues and much more.

We've got just a few things to discuss with Stern today, including the ridiculous Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she would be its first black female Justice. On Wednesday, it was actually news for some reason that one Senate Republican has announced she will vote for Jackson's confirmation. But, beyond the childish stupidity of Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee last week falsely suggesting that Jackson is somehow in favor of child porn and terrorists, there was something else far more disturbing that emerged from the GOP questioning of Biden's highly qualified nominee.

In short: Republicans aren't just targeting Roe v. Wade's well-established right to an abortion (which the Supreme Court is very likely to overturn within the next few months), but they actually appear to be gunning to reverse a whole bunch of landmark, privacy-related rights, including Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark 2015 ruling establishing a Constitutional right to same sex marriage equality. But that's not all. Also now in their sites for reversal are Griswold v. Connecticut (1965, establishing the right for married couples to buy and use contraceptives) and, yes, even Loving v. Virginia (1967's landmark civil rights decision establishing the right to interracial marriage)!

Think these concerns are exaggerated? That Republicans aren't actually gunning for those federal rights as well? Tune in and find out if you're wrong.

Also, as we discuss, Stern now believes it is unlikely that Republicans will ever vote to confirm another Supreme Court Justice nominated by a Democratic President if they regain majority control of the Senate. He further believes they will stop confirming the President's nominees for any judgeship on the federal bench.

"It is very clear now that Republicans begin from the position that Democratic Presidents have no authority and no right to appoint Supreme Court Justices, or to appoint lower court judges. This is following a longstanding pattern in the Senate of Republicans almost uniformly --- or all uniformly --- voting against nominees to the lower court, including many who are super-qualified and uncontroversial," Stern observes. "We have swung back and forth between close confirmation votes and big overwhelming lopsided confirmation votes, but I fear that this is how it will be forevermore."

While those issues would be more than enough to fill an entire interview, it's not even half of what we cover with Stern today, including his thoughts on the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas and her husband, the wildly corrupt longtime rightwing activist Justice Clarence Thomas. The conversation follows on last week's explosive revelations that Ginni was relentlessly texting Donald Trump's Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in November of 2020, urging him to fight to reverse the results of Joe Biden's election victory, in hopes of overturning American democracy itself.

Given that Clarence was the only vote on the High Court in favor of blocking subpoenaed documents from the Trump White House, which might have included emails and text from Ginni, from being turned over by the National Archives to the U.S. House January 6 Committee, Stern believes this matter is now like nothing we have ever seen at SCOTUS.

"This may feel like the latest in a long line of atrocious conflicts of interest and injustices that Clarence and Ginni Thomas have inflicted on the country, but it is materially different, because we have never before seen a case where Clarence Thomas' vote so directly implicates his wife's work," Stern argues. After I note another such case --- where Ginni received hundreds of thousands of dollars in dark money for her so-called non-partisan non-profits following Clarence's vote in the 2010 Citizens United case (after that very same group, Citizens United, had quietly spent hundreds of thousands to help push through Clarence's controversial confirmation in 1991!), Stern notes that it "looks to the world, quite reasonably, like a husband trying to shield his wife from legal scrutiny. I think that is a huge leap forward in this story. This is different in kind, not just degree." He adds: "I think it's helpful to draw this distinction between votes that benefit a spouse and votes that shield them from a criminal probe."

So what should be done about the Thomases? Tune in for Stern's thoughts (and mine!) for a very lively conversation on that.

But wait, there's more! You may have heard about last week's outrageous "shadow docket" decision by the Court that put on hold a ruling by Wisconsin's Supreme Court, including the opinion written by one of its leading conservative justices, finding that Democratic Governor Tony Evers' new map for state legislative seats in the Badger State should be used in this year's redistricting, following the 2020 Census. The GOP's corrupt SCOTUS, however, feels otherwise, even though Evers' map was closer to the state's previous (and wildly gerrymandered) one than the map pushed by the state's far-right gerrymandered state legislature. To make the matter even more absurd, the High Court completely ignored its own entirely made up and opportunistically used "Purcell Principle", which is supposedly meant to prevent last minutes changes to laws that might throw elections into chaos. In this case, since Wisconsin's Supreme Court and Democratic Governor both agreed that a new black majority district was needed in Milwaukee, the rightwingers on SCOTUS decided they'd never heard of Purcell or, apparently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

If you're flummoxed about all of this based on the above explanation, you're not alone. Tune in, as Stern tries, as usual, to help us make sense of the senselessness now coming out of a U.S. Supreme Court that is on the verge of losing whatever shred of legitimacy it may have had left at this point...

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Guest: Philly Inquirer's Will Bunch on the corrupt Thomases, criminal Trump, missing 1/6 phone logs, and our never-ending quest for account-ability; Also: Smith apologizes to Rock; FDA okays new booster shots...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2022 6:51pm PT  

As usual, on today's BradCast, there is more continuing Trump corruption news than we can possibly keep up with. But don't blame us for trying. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, however, a bit of news on the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, which has now become the dominant variant in the U.S. The FDA announced today that it has approved second Pfizer and Moderna boosters for everyone 50 years of age and over who received their last shot at least four months ago. Also, Will Smith apologized on Instagram to Chris Rock for assaulting him at the Oscars. A day late, but there ya go.

Then, we try to catch up with some of the latest Trump corruption/accountability news and some that we've fallen behind on, with an assist from longtime Philadelphia Inquirer columnist WILL BUNCH, who has been in a bit of a funk over the mountain of evidence of corruption on the Right and the lack of accountability for it.

Among the stories he and I discuss today...

  • The news of the longtime prosecutors who recently resigned from the probe of Trump's years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud felonies after the new Manhattan D.A., Alvin Bragg, took over the investigation and tanked it. As revealed last week, one of the disappointed lead prosecutors told Bragg in his resignation letter last month that Trump was "guilty of numerous felony violations, that dropping the probe was "a grave failure of justice" and that "the team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes - he did."
  • The insane, conspiracy-theory laden text messages sent in November 2020 by longtime rightwing activist Ginni Thomas --- wife of longtime rightwing Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas --- to Trump's then Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, encouraging him to fight to steal the 2020 election. And the difficulty (at least by Democrats) of bringing accountability for our corrupted Court and its "giant legitimacy crisis".
  • The seven and half hour gap in the Trump White House call logs from January 6th, 2021, as reported today by the Washington Post's Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, showing no record of Trump calls during the insurrection he incited at the U.S. Capitol from 11:17am that day until 6:54pm that night, even though the U.S. House Committee investigating the insurrection has confirmed a number of phone conversations that occurred with Trump that day.

"There seems to be no way or no will to hold our staggeringly corrupt leaders accountable --- whether it's Trump defrauding the banks or plotting an attempted coup from the Oval Office, or a Supreme Court justice ruling on his wife's bat-guano crazy political crusade," Bunch lamented in his column over the weekend. "I'm in a total funk over the state of the union."

Today he tells me, "We have this situation where there are a lot of people in the body politic saying look, the evidence is overwhelming that the 45th President of the United States was a criminal, and yet, the handful of people who are actually in the most key positions for possibly doing something about it won't go there, apparently." While he recognizes that some, such as our friend Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, believe Attorney Gernal Merrick Garland actually is working his way up the food chain toward Trump, he remains dubious.

"Common sense is telling me that, given what's at stake, this is taking too long," he argues. "While this hangs out there, you've got all of these state legislatures enacting laws to make it possible to pull off a coup in 2024. Maybe putting a few of these guys on trial and sending a few of them up the river, maybe that would change the dynamic a bit in the country."

Bunch does put stock in the House J6 Committee's work and looks forward to Watergate-like hearings in the coming months which might change the current trajectory. But, in the meantime, he remains concerned about the ability of key institutions, like our corrupted SCOTUS, to maintain any legitimacy.

"A healthy democracy would have a healthy Supreme Court. But it's a very reform-proof operation. Only one Supreme Court Justice has been impeached in U.S. history," he notes. "They don't have any particular code of ethics, even when it comes to recusing themselves on cases like this Clarence Thomas situation. They're supposed to use their best judgment, and we kind of have to hope for the best."

"For a long time there has been this simmering general sense that there are two systems. There's not one system of justice in this country. That certain privileged people at the top, it's not just politicians, it's wealthy people, it's high-profile people...Here's New York City with six cops ganging up on somebody who jumps a subway turnstile because they didn't pay the $2.50 fare because they probably couldn't afford it. There's a sense of anger about that, and I think it ties in to how people feel about Trump or Ginni Thomas, that it's all of one piece. And I think that is just causing a broader lack of trust in this country."

But, Bunch also insists that he remains "an optimist," is hopeful things can still change and that we may soon begin to see accountability. "That's the January 6 Committee. Once they get their case out there, the public demand for [accountability] might peak. And for that, we can only hope."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on Europe weaning itself from Russian fossil fuels and, speaking of a lack of accountability, new reporting on how corrupt Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has, for years now, used his public office for massive personal financial gain...

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Guest: Amy Slipowitz of Freedom House; Also: Keeping up with the wildly corrupt Clarence and Ginni Thomas; Some good news for EVs in the U.S....
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2022 7:08pm PT  

I don't think "freedom" means what many on the Right in this country seem to think it means. Our guest on The BradCast today, an expert in such things, seems to agree. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

First up, Lord Manchin has spoken! We'll soon learn if Lady Sinema agrees. But, for now at least, West Virginia's Democratic Senator Joe Manchin is not taking the bait from Republicans this time around. He says he will be be voting in favor of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden's nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, after a week in which she was flogged by all sorts of stuff and nonsense from an increasingly ridiculous, pathetic and extreme Republican caucus in the U.S. Senate. We don't yet know if the other obstructionist Democratic Senator, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, agrees, but if so --- and presuming all 50 Democratic Senators stay healthy between now and the time they hold a vote to confirm Judge Jackson --- we should have our first black female Supreme Court Justice on the High Court very soon.

But, speaking of both corruption and the Supreme Court, its longest-serving and arguably most corrupt Justice (though there's much competition here), Clarence Thomas has reportedly been discharged from the hospital after a week of treatment for a still unspecified "infection". After waiting two days to report that he'd been admitted in the first place last Friday, the Court said on Sunday that the 73-year old Thomas would be out of the hospital after receiving intravenous antibiotics for his "flu-like symptoms" by Tuesday. But after Wednesday and Thursday happened without any updates on his condition or whereabouts, we are told he was finally released on Friday, though no more information was provided on either his condition or his ailment.

That news comes a day after his similarly corrupt, far-right activist wife Ginni Thomas made headlines again on Thursday, when news of a series of insane text messages she sent to then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was made public on Thursday afternoon. The messages Ginni sent to Meadows in November of 2020 included loony conspiracy theories claiming the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump and instructed Meadows to fight to overturn the results finding that Joe Biden had won.

And all of that was going on even as Ginni's husband Clarence was voting (thankfully) in the minority on the Court in favor of Trump's various dumb challenges to the results of the election he lost, and for attempts to block things like lawful Congressional subpoenas, which would include Ginni's messages to Meadows, from being shared with the U.S. House Select Committee investigating the January 6th 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Of course, Clarence, who has been trying to hide both his and his wife's corruption for decades now, never recused himself from any of those cases, despite the outrageous conflicts of interest caused by his far-right activist wife. Luckily for them both, they are Republicans. So his corruption on the bench will likely be allowed to continue.

But, It is that sort of corruption and much more from the unapologetic Rightwing in this country --- as opposed to a lack of "freedom" to go maskless during the worst pandemic in a century --- that has helped precipitate the United States' fall in the annual Freedom House ranking on the condition of political rights and civil liberties in nations across the globe.

The non-partisan group's 2022 report is titled "The Global Expansion of Authoritarian Rule." It follows on last year's, titled "Democracy Under Siege," which we discussed at the time of its release on this show with one of its co-authors. In both, the U.S. no longer even cracks the top 50 most "Free" countries anymore, based on the 25 indicators measured by the group of international experts who work with Freedom House, which, founded in 1941, describes itself as "the oldest American organization devoted to the support and defense of democracy around the world."

After 16 consecutive years now of what Freedom House warns to be a "decline in global freedom," in which democracies are becoming less democratic and authoritarianism continues to rise across the globe, the U.S. now ranks at about 63rd on the list. It's tied with nations like South Korea, Romania and Panama, and and comes in just behind nations like Argentina, Mongolia, Croatia and Latvia on their Freedom House's index. We are now far behind Slovenia and the Czech Republic and, according to this year's report, have nowhere near the Freedoms available in nations such as Taiwan, Estonia or Chile, much less Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Uruguay, the Netherlands, Canada and New Zealand. For the record, the nations tied for the most "Free" in the world: Norway, Finland and Sweden.

Our guest today is AMY SLIPOWITZ, Freedom House Research Manager and co-author of their flagship annual report. Our conversation includes the methodologies used in compiling the group's findings and how they define what "freedom" actually is. "It's pretty simple," she explains. "To us, freedom means democracy, a governing system based on the will and consent of the governed. It has institutions that are accountable to all citizens. These include things like an independent judiciary, free media, and strong civil society. And ultimately, a democracy is the best system for ensuring that everyone's human rights are respected, no matter who they voted for."

What are the key differences between this year's reports and last year's? "The main driver that we found for the decline in 2021 was that autocrats are increasingly cooperating and supporting each other in their attacks on democratic norms and institutions," Slipowitz asserts. "And with this, authoritarians have made really enormous gains in the international system. So they've been able to use that influence to promote autocracy as a viable alternative to democracy. The cooperation isn't based on any unifying ideology, or even friendship or affinity among authoritarians, but on a single shared interest, which is to stay in power by any means necessary."

"A key part of this is trying to transform the international system, where the rules-based international order no longer applies," she adds. "So that's where you see authoritarian regimes causing conflict and other really egregious abuses. We've seen this manifest with things like more military coups, more elections with pre-determined outcomes, power grabs. To give just a couple of examples, military coups happened in five countries this year. This was more common in 2021 than in any year of the past decade."

Among the related issues discussed with Slipowitz: What are the greatest factors in the slow decline of freedom and democracy across the globe over the past 15 years and the sudden plunge in freedom seen in 2020? Why is the U.S. now ranked so low on the Freedom House index, near the bottom of its index of "Free" nations? How much of a factor was the January 6th insurrection last year and new restrictions on voting in the U.S. in their determination? Does the rest of the world still consider the U.S. to be a "beacon of freedom" worth following and emulating? How do mask and vaccine mandates amid the COVID pandemic, dramatically cited by many on the Right as the death of personal freedom, play into this year's ratings? How about the banning of books and the teaching of subjects such as systemic racism and sexuality? And, have we seen a similar years-long decline in global democracy and rise of authoritarianism at any other time in recent history?

"It's much easier to dismantle democratic systems than it is to build them back up," Slipowitz warns. "For the U.S. to recover from this 11-point decline over ten years, it's really important that the more structural issues be strengthened and fixed." All of that and much more during our enlightening --- and occasionally chilling --- conversation.

Finally today, some quick coverage of several good(ish) news stories we had hoped to cover yesterday, but had to dump at the last minute, thanks to the breaking news of the wildly corrupt Thomas clan. Among those stories: the rise in gas prices due to Big Oil profiteering and Russia's war in Ukraine is leading to a huge increase among American car buyers interest in battery-powered electric vehicles and hybrids; Emerging evidence that the Biden Administration may considering use of the Defense Production Act to build electric heat pumps here in the U.S. to help replace some 75 million oil and gas furnaces in Europe, currently dependent on Russian gas (as we discussed recently with climate journalist and activist Bill McKibben); And a doubling of the number of battery-powered electric delivery trucks being ordered by the U.S. Postal Service and its corrupt Postmaster, Louis DeJoy. (That still only amounts to a bare one-fifth of the new trucks being ordered at the moment to replace the aging, gas-guzzling USPS fleet...but we're still working on it!)

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Guest: 30-year Florida elections Supervisor Ion Sancho; Also: More signs of new COVID variant rising; Russia's war crimes against Ukraine continue; Fox 'News' journalists killed while reporting on war...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2022 7:11pm PT  

As difficult as it has historically been to recruit competent, non-partisan election officials and pollworkers, a new survey suggests its about to become much worse. As we discuss in detail on today's BradCast, that is thanks, in no small part, to persistent threats by Trump's MAGA Mob against local election officials in the wake of his Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. It's made even worse by state GOP officials translating that lie into new laws that further undermine America's democratic experiment. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But FIRST UP today, a quick follow up underscoring our reporting on yesterday's program, warning about the rise of a new COVID variant (known as BA2, or "stealth Omicron" or "Deltacron") that many seem to be wanting to imagine away. Also several quick updates on the latest news from Russia's relentless bombing and war crimes against Ukraine, as peace talks inch forward, and as at least two Fox "News" journalist are confirmed to have been killed outside of Kyiv.

THEN, on to our main story today. In recent months, Reuters has been unfolding a series of excellent investigative reports on the various, horrific threats issued against election officials by those who bought into Trump's evidence-free claims that the 2020 election was stolen. But GOP state lawmakers have been ignoring those menacing threats and using the Big Lie to create actual legislation allowing them to purge dedicated, non-partisan election officials --- including Republicans seen as not Republican enough --- from their roles and replacing them with partisan operatives.

Brennan Center's recent survey of local election administrators finds that, more than a year after the Trump-incited attack on the U.S. Capitol, one in six officials say they "have experienced threats because of their job." More than half of respondents are "concerned about the safety of their colleagues"; 30 percent "know of one or more election workers who have left at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation"; and, perhaps most troubling, 20 percent of them now plan to leave their jobs before the 2024 election, with many "citing political leaders’ attacks on a system they know is fair and honest as one of their top reasons for leaving."

Meanwhile, many officials who would like to continue in their jobs are being pushed out thanks to new laws allowing partisan County Commissions in Georgia, for example, to replace longtime Board of Elections officials like Georgia's civil rights icon Helen Butler (who we interviewed about this late last year) in Morgan County, and 27-year Floyd County Board of Elections veteran Vanessa Waddell, who, with the entire Board in the deeply Republican County, was removed from her post, as documented by WaPo yesterday. That, even after she successfully oversaw last year's U.S. Senate runoff elections in the state amid persistent death threats that resulted in some officials in her office deciding they needed to come to work with pepper spray and stun guns to stay safe.

Leon County, Florida's now-retired 30-year veteran Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO, is furious about all of this. He joins us today to discuss these growing threats to our teetering American democracy. Sancho, who retired in 2016, is one of our nation's great election officials. He was so well-regarded by his peers, of all political persuasions, that he was tapped to oversee the wildly contentious and eventually-aborted 2000 Presidential recount in Florida. He was also a central figure in HBO's landmark, 2006 Emmy-nominated documentary, Hacking Democracy, detailing the first public hack of a computerized voting tabulator.

What is going on today, he explains, makes him both angry and deeply concerned about American democracy. "Election officials all over the country, irrespective of partisan affiliation, have been tragically attacked because of our ex-President's lie. The most horrible lie about our elections, frankly, in my lifetime," he tells me, adding that it makes his "head explode".

"It's not being dealt with at all. That's why election officials are subject to the most vile attacks, because the supporters --- the cultists, if you want to call them that --- believe that election was stolen, and this is such a bald-faced lie. It's a tragic lie. It's a stupid lie. And it demonstrates the ignorance of the American citizenry about our elections."

Sancho argues that "we are in the process of destroying a model of non-partisan election administration that has taken decades to build."

"Most election officials are administrators, not activists, not individuals who are used to dealing with the political process, except as standing away from it and facilitating elections. We take oaths to be non-partisan," he continues. "One of the proudest moments of my life was the creation of helping write the standards of codes and conduct for the Elections Center, to apply to all national election officials, putting loyalty to the principles of fair and honest elections over anything else."

Of course, over The BRAD BLOG's nearly 20 years of reporting on elections and voting processes and vulnerable computerized voting and tabulation systems --- much of which Sancho has followed closely over those years --- we've had our own fair share of criticism for some election officials (not to mention almost every voting system vendor). Some of that has resulted in occasional criticism that we are "attacking" election officials or pollworkers ourselves. So, how is our attempt to hold feet to the fire any different from what Sancho sees coming from the American MAGA Right?

"The difference is that you are focusing on specific issues of provable fact," Sancho responds. "That's different than the kind of criticism that we have right now. Your criticism doesn't threaten the democratic experiment. And where we find ourselves now is that the great American experiment, our democracy, is being threatened. It's being destroyed by individuals who would rather believe a narcissistic liar than understand the truth."

Sancho has MUCH more to say on all of this, including thoughts on new legislation heading to Florida's Republican Governor and Presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis that would give him what Sancho describes as "the Governor's private police force on elections."

"That's part of the intimidation," he argues. "Now we're seeing a secret police in the state of Florida for elections. Florida is, unfortunately, one of the leaders of this effort nationally to change non-partisan fair elections into something else."

Sancho concedes "it's hard for me to see how we get around this," though he does offer at least some ideas for solutions to find our way out of this nightmare, including laws to specifically prevent threats against election administrators. "It should be illegal to threaten an election official for the purposes of intimidating them from doing their job and counting the votes. That should be illegal, and it is not."

"We've got to turn this around," Sancho insists. "ALL legal citizens should have the right to vote accessibly, and have that vote counted as they intended, and then we should audit the elections to confirm the validity of that election. That's as simple as it can be, and yet we're very far away from that, as you know."

"What were supposed to be laboratories of democracy," he charges, are now "50 citadels of repression." As suggested, we think Sancho is an American hero. He's on fire today and, as ever, worth tuning in to hear in full.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report today, with bad news for climate changed Australia and our global fossil fuel dependence, highlighted yet again by Russia's war on Ukraine. She also has a bit of good news for breathers, however, as President Biden's EPA announces critical new regulations on smog and vehicle emissions that will save thousands of American lives...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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