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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, September 29, 2022
KS Abortion Referendum Data Suggest Women Being Under-Counted in Midterm Polling: 'BradCast' 9/28/22
Guest: Tom Bonier of TargetSmart; Also: Hurricane Ian storms ashore in FL...
Critical Elections, Catastrophic Storm Bear Down: 'BradCast' 9/27/22
Poll workers needed!; Ian closing in on FL; Scofflaw TX A.G. flees process server; Congress nears Electoral Count Act update; Listener mail...
'Green News Report' 9/27/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ian takes aim at Florida; Fiona broke records in Canada; Noru pummels Philippines; Winter fuel prices soar; PLUS: Pacific Island nations call for fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty at U.N.
Recent GNRs: 9/22/22 - 9/20/22 - Archives...
'Gold Standard' SCOTUS Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Expansion of High Court: 'BradCast' 9/26/22
Also: Disinformationists; Fascism rising; Hurricane Ian threatens FL; Callers ring in...
Sunday 'Heavy Traffic' Toons
Be sure to check PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons before crossing state borders. You're welcome!...
Trump, Lindell, Ginni Thomas --- Geniuses All!:
'BradCast' 9/22/22
GOP election conspiracists have bad lawyers; Also: Garland's moving (and telling) remarks at swearing-in of new American citizens...
'Green News Report' 9/22/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. Sec-Gen wants fossil fuel industry to pay up; New plastics initiative; Puerto Rico still lacking power and clean water; PLUS: Senate approves first climate treaty in decades...
Recent GNRs: 9/20/22 - 9/15/22 - Archives...
It's National Voter Registration Day!
(Who Knew?): 'BradCast' 9/20/22
Also: Beer shortage?!; More on DeSantis' migrant scam; Electoral Count Act reform news; Good (and bad) news for disabled voters; Much more...
'Green News Report' 9/20/22
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Climate change juiced Pakistan floods; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Plastics plant blocked in LA...
Kidnapping is a Crime. Will DeSantis Be Held Accountable for It?: 'BradCast' 9/19/22
Also: Media still pulling punches on GOP; Elizabeth finally buried, so will CNN finally cover weekend's THREE hurricane landfalls?!; Plus, callers!...
Sunday 'Pawn' Toons
Make your move to PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons...
Reagan's Big Government Gift to Big Pharma is Still Giving, Killing: 'BradCast' 9/16/22
Guest: Ernest A. Canning; Also: Trump's failed GA election theft; NH GOP Sen. nom flip-flops on 2020 denial; Patagonia gives away company to save planet...
More Good News for Ds; More Fraud Accountability for Rs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Fraud probe of MI GOP A.G. nom; NY Election Commish charged w/ absentee vote fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; Summer 2022 hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts IRA, national EV charging network...
'Groundbreaking' Victory for CA's Half-Million Fast-Food Workers: 'BradCast' 9/14/22
Guest: TAP's Harold Meyerson; Also: Rail worker strike looms; Noteworthy primary results from DE, RI, NH...
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...


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/28/2022 10:25am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Manchin and Schumer reach deal on climate and energy bill; Russia slashes gas deliveries to Europe; PLUS: US Postal Service quadruples its plan to buy all-electric vehicles... 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!
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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): Zeitgeist Matters: If you want to know who changed Manchin's mind --- you did; Climate disinformation leaves lasting mark as world heats up; Streaming service Hulu is rejecting ads about climate change; 1odead in 'One of the worst flooding events in Kentucky's history'; Hurricane flood maps reveal the climate future for Miami, NYC and D.C.; Biden Administration announces initiatives to boost solar energy use; Wildfire pollution may pay surprising role in fate of Arctic sea ice; Grim heat and stressed grids make dangerous outages more likely... PLUS: Largest Audubon chapter yet is changing its name, rebuking an enslaver... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




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...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Political scientist, international relations Prof. Nicholas Grossman of Univ. of IL; Also: EU to embargo Russian oil; USPS sued to block new gas-guzzling truck contract; More bad news for Trump in NY...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2022 5:48pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Putin's war in Ukraine continues, as do fears that it could expand into a nuclear World War III. That has led some on the anti-war Left to demand the U.S. and EU spend more energy pushing for a diplomatic solution rather than sending more deadly arms to Ukraine to help it defend itself. But that, according to our guest today, is a false choice. [Audio link to full show is posted after this summary below.]

First up, after recently cutting off the purchase of coal from Russia, the European Union is reportedly now prepared to embargo oil purchases as well. That's good news for Ukraine, very bad news for Russia, but also potentially bad news for American consumers as the global price of oil is likely to further spike as Big Oil CEOs in the U.S. continue to rake in record profits rather than increase production or lower gas prices at the pump. We discuss.

In not entirely unrelated news, as EarthJustice senior attorney Adrian Martinez vowed on this program back in February, his organization along with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the United Auto Workers (UAW), 16 states and the District of Columbia are now now suing the U.S. Postal Service to block its purchase of nearly 150,000 new gas-guzzling mail delivery trucks. The $11.3 billion contract, carried out by corrupt Donald Trump's corrupt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is unlawful on several bases, they argue. Most notably, the USPS failed to do an environmental impact study, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, until after inking their deal with Wisconsin defense contractor, Oshkosh Defense, to build the trucks.

The new gas-powered vehicles are designed to get just 8.6 mpg, barely more than the 30-year old trucks they're replacing and, to make matters worse, will be built in a new non-union facility in South Carolina, rather than the company's union shop in Wisconsin. “Once this purchase goes through, we’ll be stuck with more than 100,000 new gas-guzzling vehicles on neighborhood streets for the next 30 years," California's Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement.

The states and the environmental groups --- with the support of the EPA and White House --- are hoping to move the USPS to deploy an all-electric fleet instead. Transportation is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., and the postal fleet's 217,000 trucks is the largest share of the government's nonmilitary vehicles. Federal regulators estimate the new trucks will emit roughly the same amount of Earth-warming carbon dioxide each year as 4.3 million passenger vehicles.

Next, as Russia regroups in the east and south of Ukraine to prepare their next offensive, we're joined today by NICHOLAS GROSSMAN, international relations professor and political scientist at the University of Illinois. He's also Senior Editor at Arc Digital and author of Drones and Terrorism: Asymmetric Warfare and the Threat to Global Security.

This week, Grossman wrote a piece at The Daily Beast, responding to recent commentary from liberal academic icon and anti-war advocate Noam Chomsky, who is critical of the U.S. and NATO for continuing to supply Ukraine with weapons of war, rather than demand negotiations toward peace. As Chomsky argued, while sympathetic with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's position, increased arming of the beseiged nation fails to "pay attention to the reality of the world," which, without conceding to Russian demands via negotiations, will result in "the destruction of Ukraine and nuclear war."

But Grossman argues that's a false choice and that arming Ukraine is, in fact, at least right now, the best path to peace. "Even just framing it as diplomacy or war is a mistake," Grossman responds today, "in that war and diplomacy are not alternatives that go together. Just about every war ends with some sort of negotiated solution. Ukraine was willing to meet with Russia and did offer some concessions and those weren't enough. But, also, the actions on the ground are in effect a negotiation."

"The way that a lot of political science treats war is to think of it as a bargaining process. You have these two sides, Russia and Ukraine. Russia wants something and Ukraine really doesn't want to give it. And Russia's willing to kill to try to get it, and Ukraine is willing to kill to try to not give it. As long as that's the case, then the two of them don't actually know what they can force the other to accept. And so the war itself, the actual fighting, is to some extent a negotiating process. It is the fighting on the ground that is pushing both sides to figure out what exactly they can force the other one to accept."

"There will be peace," Grossman insists, "but the peace is going to look like many possible different things. One option is a peace where Ukraine is independent. Another option is where Ukraine is subjugated by Russia. Both of those are technically peace. But the Chomsky argument seems to be pushing more for the peace with Ukraine bowing down before Russia. And the problem with that is the Ukrainians don't want to, and there's nothing American can do to make them do it. So the action of 'Hey, we could have this option of getting them to sit down and then work it out and there would be peace, but instead we're not doing that, we're just causing war', just misunderstands that."

"As long as Russia and Ukraine want to fight, they're going to fight, and the United States can't stop that. So our choice is leave the Ukrainians on their own, or help them as they try to fight for independence."

There is, of course, much more to discuss with Grossman, including Chomsky's concerns (and many others'!) that this all leads to the use of nuclear weapons by Russia, as well as his thoughts on those who claim to be anti-war while blaming the U.S. for Russia's aggression. Please tune in for our very insightful and informative discussion today.

Finally, we close with some brighter news. A judge in New York has refused to end the $10,000/day fines levied against Donald Trump earlier this week, after the disgraced former President was found in contempt for failing to adequately respond to document subpoenas from New York state Attorney General Letitia James. Her civil probe into alleged "fraudulent" financial statements by Trump --- inflating or deflating his net worth as part of an alleged years-long bank, tax and insurance fraud scheme by Trump, his company and perhaps his children Ivanka, Don Jr. and Eric --- is continuing toward a potential lawsuit. The Manhattan District Attorney is supposedly reviewing similar matters in consideration of criminal charges. Today, Judge Arthur Engoron denied Trump's motion to purge the contempt ruling (and the daily fines that go with it) after Trump submitted a one-page affidavit claiming he did not have any of the documents sought by James. He failed to explain who did or what he did to search for them.

"Mr. Trump's two-paragraph affidavit adds no useful information to the mix," said James before Engoron's decision today. "Mr. Trump merely states off the top of his head, with no hint that he conducted any type of search, that he has no documents in response to the December 2021 subpoena in his 'personal possession.'"

"It is simply not plausible that Mr. Trump authored only three documents dealing with the value of his assets and his wealth," the state AG wrote. The fines will continue to mount for now, as James' office makes their final determination as to whether or not to formally charge the former President in the coming weeks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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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: Adrian Martinez of EarthJustice; Also: Senators alarmed by unknown CIA data collection program; Musk readies his 'Starship'...
By Brad Friedman on 2/11/2022 6:07pm PT  

No. The BradCast is not letting this one go. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

As we discussed in some detail last week, the U.S. Postal Service, under the corrupt direction of Donald Trump's still-in-his-post-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, is about to spend more than $11 billion to replace the Service's mail delivery truck fleet. Based on an absurdly (and, as our guest today argues, purposely) flawed economic and environmental study, the USPS will be purchasing 165,000 new delivery trucks with just 10% of them being fully electric. The rest will burn at least 110,000 gallons of fuel each year (and likely much more), getting just over a ridiculous 8 miles per gallon --- or as much as 14 when the AC is turned off!

That means, as our guest recently wrote, the new trucks, comprising about 30% of the federal government's automotive fleet, will burn through "a jaw-dropping 2 to 4 billion gallons of fuel" over their expected 20-year lifetime. All of this in the middle of a dangerously worsening climate crisis for the planet and as President Biden is vowing to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next decade.

Last week, the EPA and White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote a letter to the USPS, objecting to the plan and essentially begging the quasi-independent Executive Branch agency to review their flawed environmental analysis to consider electrifying the entire fleet instead.

DeJoy, meanwhile, is claiming they can't afford to do that, despite being flush with more than $20 billion in pandemic cash from the federal government. And the Postal Service PR team is busy greenwashing all of this as "real sustainability" for "a cleaner world", as their website explains how they are "updating our fleet with fuel-efficient vehicles to help do our part." How do they make such an absurd claim? Well, the new fleet, as it turns out, will be 0.4 miles per gallon more efficient than the existing fleet that's been in use since the 1980s!

As if all of this isn't obscene enough, earlier this week, VICE's Aaron Gordon reported that the newly designed gasoline-powered trucks, estimated to clock in at 8,501 pounds with mail on board --- "almost double the weight of the current USPS delivery vehicle" --- means they will avoid the EPA's new fuel efficiency standards for "light duty" trucks, which are limited to, as luck would have it, 8,500 pounds! If they were just .01 pound lighter, he reports, they would likely be illegal.

Yes. It is all as outrageous --- and insane --- and corrupt --- as it sounds.

We're joined today by ADRIAN MARTINEZ, Senior Attorney for EarthJustice, a non-profit environmental law group where he works on clean air, clean energy, and other environmental justice issues. Martinez details more evidence of how the USPS environmental study appears to have been purposely "flawed, and took every effort to make internal combustion gas-guzzling trucks look good and electric vehicles look bad," to justify buying nearly 165,000 polluting vehicles at this critical moment.

"The environmental analysis assumes that gas will be $2.50 a gallon in 2040," he explains. "You can barely find a place in the country where it is $2.50 a gallon now! But they assume gas prices will remain low. And so what that does is it makes their calculations for the total cost of ownership of a gas-guzzling truck look better than it should be. They did this on a range of different issues and it really resulted in an analysis that was faulty and reckless, to be completely candid."

"To call these vehicles 'fuel efficient' is laughable," Martinez tells me. "There is nothing sustainable about this decision. In fact, it's the opposite. We're in 2022, and having to have this debate is just absurd."

Of course, the Postal Service is doing its best to avoid this "debate" entirely. Both the EPA and the state of California have asked the Service to hold public hearings on the matter, before they purchase tens of thousands of new gas-powered trucks from Wisconsin-based military contractor, Oshkosh Defense (maker of heavy-duty armored vehicles.) To date, they have not agreed to public hearings or to even take public comment. Martinez says that his organization has collected more than 20,000 public comments to give to the Service, which told them over the weekend "we're not accepting comments on the environmental document at this time."

Martinez has much more today on the "brazen" responses from the USPS under DeJoy's command, which is apparently also ignoring a recent letter from 16 U.S. Senators similarly asking them to electrify the fleet. We also discuss why the hell DeJoy is still in his job at all, and what you and the rest of the public can do about all of this. (Desi also has an interesting idea along those lines as well.) If all else fails, Martinez suggests, there are legal options that his group and others are likely to take in court under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Also today, two other items of note. Only one of them is really disturbing. A newly developing story broke last night based on a (partially redacted) letter to the CIA Director and the Director of National Intelligence, from Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), released late on Thursday night. The letter suggests there is some sort of very troubling data collection going at at the CIA. The unredacted portions cryptically describe a "secret bulk collection program" that "has been kept from the public and from Congress" and that is "entirely outside the statutory framework that Congress and the public believe govern this collection, and without any of the judicial, congressional or even executive branch oversight that comes with [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] collection."

What does that all mean? We don't yet know enough yet for certain to tell ya. But it seems worth noting, as I would expect more on this story to develop in the days ahead.

And, finally, we close with some news --- with an excellent Bowie tune to go with it --- about how we are all getting just a little bit closer to being able to escape this increasingly unlivable planet one day for good. That said, the options out there in the universe aren't yet particularly appetizing. So, it would be much better to electrify the mail delivery fleet instead!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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US v. ISIS; Omicron falling, deaths rising; Good swing-state redistricting news; Biden EPA applying brakes on DeJoy's insane, corrupt USPS gas-powered delivery truck boondoggle...
By Brad Friedman on 2/3/2022 6:30pm PT  

Like the Energizer Bunny, the stories on today's BradCast are still going and going and going... [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

Among them...

The Never-Ending "Global War on Terror": An overnight, on-the-ground U.S. special forces led raid on a house in northwestern Syria is said to have taken out the latest leader of ISIS, along with more than a dozen others, including six children. We share what we know via sources from Al Jazeera to New York Times to President Biden.

The Never-Ending Coronavirus: As quickly as it spiked, Omicron is now falling in almost every state in the nation. But COVID deaths are still on the rise (averaging about 2,600 per day) and hospitals are still up against it. Almost all entirely thanks to the unvaccinated who are now 60 times more likely to die from the disease than those who have received their shots.

The Never-Ending Assault on Democracy: Following the good redistricting news yesterday out of New York state, more good news today from the critical swing-state of Pennsylvania, where the state Supreme Court has jumped into the redistricting fight between the Keystone State's Democratic Governor and its (gerrymandered) Republican state legislature. The 5-2 Dem majority state Supremes have determined they will have the last word on new maps soon and that's likely good news for American democracy.

The Never-Ending Madness of DeJoy's USPS: It's insanity really. It's also wildly corrupt. Donald Trump's still-in-his-position-for-some-reason Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is overseeing a massive Postal Service contract to purchase 165,000 new mail delivery trucks to replace its aging, 30-year old fleet, which averaged 10 miles per gallon. Instead of moving to all-electric vehicles, the $11.3 billion purchase with a Wisconsin-based defense contractor (for some reason) will consist of 90% gasoline-powered trucks for use over the next several decades, despite boasts from DeJoy's PR team that the trucks are more fuel-efficient than the old fleet, with an increase of 0.4 MPG! The Biden EPA is hoping to put the brakes on the independent federal agency. They've found the service's environmental analysis to be wildly flawed and is directing them to start over before replacing a full one-third of the federal fleet with more climate destroying vehicles that will emit the equivalent of 4.3 million gas-powered passenger vehicles over their expected lifespan. The details in WaPo's exclusive on this catastrophic boondoggle illustrate nothing less than mind-bending madness amid our worsening climate emergency.

The Never-Ending Climate Crisis: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with bad news on gas stoves and on a massive chemical fire in NC; but good news on the U.S. Interior Department distributing billions of job-creating dollars to states to clean up millions of leaking, toxic, abandoned oil and gas wells across the country, as part of Biden's recently signed infrastructure law...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Judge blasts new Postal Service mandates as 'intentional effort to disrupt' and delegitimize the 2020 elections and to disenfranchise voters...
UPDATE 9/22/20: 2nd federal court enjoins USPS; separate preliminary injunction motion pending in D.C. federal court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/18/2020 3:30pm PT  

On Thursday, by way of a 13-page Order [PDF] issued in State of Washington v. Trump, U.S. District Court Judge Stanley A. Bastian not only enjoined the United States Postal Service (USPS) from continuing to implement the "transformative" nationwide changes to its mail delivery capacities effectuated since July under the direction of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, but also ordered USPS to "replace, reassemble or reconnect" all of the high-speed sorting and labeling machines that had previously been decommissioned.

In his decision, Judge Bastian found that the 14 State Plaintiffs --- Attorneys General in WA, CO, CT, IL, MD, MI, MN, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, VA, WI --- "established a likelihood that they will prevail on their claims that the [USPS] and Postmaster General violated 39 U.S.C. §3661". He characterized DeJoy's mandates as an "attack on the Postal Service [that] is likely to irreparably harm the states’ ability to administer the 2020 general election."

As we explained last month when covering the States' complaint, under Section 3661(b), DeJoy had a "non-discretionary duty" to request and obtain an advisory opinion from the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) before instituting "a change in the nature of postal services which will generally affect service on a nationwide or a substantially nationwide basis." Under that statute, the PRC cannot issue that advisory opinion "until an opportunity for a hearing on the record...has been afforded to...users of the mail." At that hearing, "an officer of the [PRC]...shall be required to represent the public interest."

DeJoy's failure to comply with those statutory requirements, Judge Bastion noted, "suggests" the USPS "acted ultra vires" --- beyond its power --- when it effectuated DeJoy's "transformative" changes.

The court also found that the Plaintiffs established a likelihood that the USPS "actions have infringed" upon the "States' constitutional right to appoint presidential electors and set the time, place, and manner of elections; that the current changes are the result of an effort by the current Administration to use the [USPS] as a tool in partisan politics, which violates the spirit and purpose of the Postal Reorganization Act and the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act."

In his written ruling, Judge Bastian blasted the USPS actions, charging they would result in "voter disenfranchisement"...

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



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