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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, September 25, 2022
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
  w/ Brad & Desi
Simultaneous storms, in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Japan; Pakistan flooding juiced by climate change; Aussie energy turnabout; PLUS: Court blocks plastics plant in LA's Cancer Alley...
Recent GNRs: 9/15/22 - 9/13/22 - Archives...
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 no longer a 2020 denier (after winning nom); Patagonia gives away the company to save the planet...
More Good News for Dems; More Fraud Accountability for Repubs: 'BradCast' 9/15/22
Biden approval up, strike averted; Trump NY fraud; Feds probe Lindell CO fraud; Special prosecutor probes GOP A.G.'s MI fraud; Feds charge NY Elexn Commish w/ absentee fraud...
'Green News Report' 9/15/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
U.N. says world in 'uncharted climate territory'; 2022 Summer hottest ever; Clean energy will save world $12 trillion; PLUS: Biden touts climate bill, national EV charging network...
Recent GNRs: 9/13/22 - 9/8/22 - Archives...
'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...
As COVID Continues, Reagan's Gift to Big Pharma is Still Endangering Global Health
Dsmantling pharmaceutical monopolies begins with repealing a 1987 Executive Order giveaway...
Really Bad Voting Systems, Really Bad Politics: 'BradCast' 9/13/22
Tiny Delaware's huge mistake; Graham's nationwide abortion ban bill; Also: Franken on SCOTUS illegitimacy...
'Green News Report' 9/13/22
Torrential rain breaks CA heat wave, capping Summer of Extremes; Ukraine nuke plant reactors shut down; Climate champ Charles?; PLUS: Congress' permitting showdown...
Sunday 'Special Master' Toons
PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best, not-corrupt-at-all political toons...
'Trump Judges', the Need for Court Reform, and 'Lady Justice': 'BradCast' 9/9/22
Guest: Legal analyst, author Dahlia Lithwick; Also: Lincoln Project begs TFG to sue them; Judge tosses Trump's 'conspiracy' suit; DoJ offers Mar-a-Lago case off-ramp...
'Green News Report' 9/8/22
U.S. West grid stressed in historic heat wave; Russia's new threat on energy exports to Europe; PLUS: Pakistan's humanitarian crisis amid catastrophic flooding...
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: High School senior Shourya Seth, COO of Project Paralink; Also: Admin's top-to-bottom failures in managing COVID crisis continue; Biden proposes 100% carbon-free power by 2035, millions of jobs with it...
By Brad Friedman on 7/14/2020 6:55pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Record surges in FL, TX, elsewhere; CA Guv re-closes bars, restaurants, churches, gyms, salons; Callers ring in on Trump's 'genocide'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/13/2020 6:14pm PT  

We raise a whole bunch of topics and news from the weekend for conversation with listeners on The BradCast today, but most wanted to only to discuss the Trump Administration's twisted demand that schools reopen next month for in-person classes, even as COVID-19 cases are now exploding around the country. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Florida, on Sunday, reported a record 15,300 cases. That's a larger single day record than any state in the nation. It is more than either California at its recent peak or New York at its peak back in April. The news of Florida's quickly worsening crisis comes just days after the state announced that all schools in Florida must reopen for in-person classes for all, five days a week, despite concerns expressed by local school officials.

As Florida shattered the national record, many states, most controlled by Republican Governors, continue to hit new seven-day rolling average records of new cases (even as testing plateaus or even decreases in some states), California, with its Democratic Governor is spiking as well. Governor Gavin Newsom in the Golden State on Monday declared that bars, indoor dining at restaurants, hair and nail salons, churches and gyms would all be shut down again in counties that are the hardest hit. Los Angeles and San Diego County both announced that the school year will reopen with remote learning instead of in-person classes, to the great relief of teachers who are, overwhelmingly, against reopening school campuses.

Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, meanwhile, appeared (poorly) on the Sunday news shows, to insist that schools must reopen, or face lost federal funding, while admitting she has absolutely no federal plan for what do when coronavirus spikes occur. That, she said, should be left to local officials --- the same local officials that she and Trump are hoping to force to reopen schools next month, even as a new Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds nearly 1.5 million teachers (one in four) are older than 65 or have health conditions that place them at higher risk of serious illness should they contract COVID-19.

At the same time, oddly enough, Admiral Brett Giroir, the federal government's coronavirus testing coordinator, warned on ABC News' This Week on Sunday that the U.S. shouldn't even be thinking about how to get kids back into the classroom until we get the virus under control. "When we get the virus more under control," he said, "then we can really think about how we put children back in the classroom." We suspect the Admiral may not be in his position very much longer. People who tend to tell the truth are not particularly welcome in the Trump Administration.

Getting the virus under control, of course, as Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pointed out over the weekend, is made all the more difficult, if not impossible, because the federal government is still failing --- more than four months into this crisis --- to ensure adequate testing kits or personal protective equipment (PPE) as cases spike, hospitalizations surge and the death rates began to climb in every region of the country over the past two weeks.

Trump's plan to pretend that everything is somehow normal in time for the November 3rd Presidential Election is beginning to look a whole lot like genocide or at least mass murder, as a whole bunch of callers today seem to agree. (I wanted to hear from those who disagreed with me. None of them were willing to call in for some reason, even though they frequently email me after the show. Cowards.)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Sen. Timothy Wirth; Also: Following infection and hospitalization spikes, COVID-19 deaths now surging, as predicted, in GOP-run states...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2020 6:55pm PT  

Some pretty scary topics on today's BradCast. But don't worry! There's a Rainbow at the end of this pot of gold to help make it all just a tiny bit better! [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

First up: As we've been reporting for weeks, coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations have been surging across much of the country, particularly in states with Republican Governors who reopened far too early, despite warnings to the contrary from health experts. Throughout this epic failure, however, there has been one statistic these sociopaths have been repeatedly clinging to in recent weeks to justify their ill-considered orders to try and goose the economy in the short-term before the election by reopening, despite the obvious dangers: mortality rates from COVID-19 had not been increasing along with the spike in infection rates

Of course, as we've also been reporting for weeks, the death rate is a lagging indicator that, sure enough, follows the increase in hospitalizations. And now, especially in states like Florida, Texas, Arizona and others where Republican Governors put their perceived (and twisted) political interests ahead of the health and lives of their actual constituents, death rates are now beginning to swell as expected. That, even as Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the head of his so-called White House Coronavirus Task Force, continue to mislead the public about such facts. "We are encouraged that the average fatality rate continues to be low and steady," Pence lied to reporters at the White House this week, while vowing to strong-arm schools into reopening for in-person classes next month --- including in Florida, where, as in Texas and Arizona, ICUs are now at capacity in much of the state, hospitals are running out of test kits and the Republican National Committee plans to hold its nominating coronation for Trump next month as well.

Governors Ron DeSantis (FL), Greg Abbott (TX), Doug Ducey (AZ) and others like them share the same buckets of blood on their hands with Trump, Pence, and the other rightwing death cultists, like Sean Hannity at Fox "News".

Then --- in even cheerier news --- it is now "not just possible but increasingly probable" that Donald Trump will steal the election, according to our guest, Colorado's former U.S. SENATOR TIM WIRTH! Writing recently at Newsweek with Editor-at-Large Tom Rogers, Wirth --- who has served in various branches of government since the Johnson and Nixon Administrations --- details a scenario in which Trump could lose not only the popular vote, but also the Electoral College votes of enough swing states to lose in a rout, but still manage to remain in office!

And, as they detail in 12 simple steps, it can all be done "legally" thanks to some obscure emergency powers granted by Congress decades ago to the President, some help from a compliant and stolen U.S. Supreme Court, and the shameless Republican caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In short, the example scenario proffered by Wirth and Rogers involves the invocation of Presidential powers to launch an investigation into dubious claims of election fraud in several battleground states. That prevents the certification of results in those states which, as SCOTUS has previously ruled, would mean their electoral votes would not ultimately be included in the final tally. If the result was a tie or challenge to the final electoral count, the winner of the Presidential contest would, as specified by the Constitution, be determined by state delegations in the U.S. House, where Republicans currently hold the controlling majority in a majority of states (26).

While the specific scenario they spell out might seem unimaginable, their very specific step-by-step plan is both entirely plausible and, theoretically, perfectly legal. It is no more unimaginable than the idea that Donald Trump could become President of the United States in the first place.

So, Wirth warns we would be wise to begin imagining it --- and making plans for how to counter it --- immediately. "We can't wait until the middle of October or early November to ring the alarm bells," he tells me. "The alarm bells, in our opinion, have to go off now."

The scenario, as he details it, is as chilling as it sounds --- and completely imaginable under this President, who, Wirth explains, is already busily laying the ground work for such a coup. "If you look at Trump and what we've learned in the last 3 and a half years, this is a man who is absolutely deathly afraid of the word 'loser'," he argues. "He does not want to go down in history as the biggest loser in American political history. He will do everything he possibly can to avoid that and to stay in office."

"Effectively, under Article II of the Constitution, he can do practically anything that he wants to do. There are no constraints on his use of these emergency powers," says Wirth. "There is no review of these powers. The Congress actually knows very little about them. They are in statute, but held by the Justice Department and by the White House. The Congress has had little or no attention to these. They have not heard hearings about them, they don't know what's in these emergency powers, they have not reviewed them."

"Trump has no constraints on these. The Congress doesn't have any authority to check these powers. People can say, 'Well, it would go to court!' Who's going to take it to court? Barr, the Attorney General? Are they going to challenge what Trump says he's going to do?"

"The more you know, the worse it is. The more you know about these emergency powers, the more you sketch out what he may do, the more you see what he's doing in all of these swing states, how they're trying to discourage vote by mail, how he's making all kinds of wild statements about how corrupt electoral voting would be if its conducted by mail," the former Democratic Senator explains. "It would really take a failure of imagination not to begin to think... that this is not just possible, but probable. Let's connect the dots."

Wirth connects a bunch of those dots on today's show, adding to his opinion piece at Newsweek and another related warning he penned at Politico with former CO Senator Gary Hart and Carter and Clinton Administration officials Joel McCleary and Mark Medish, telling me today: "There is a danger in our system, and we have to build public attention to this, so that it doesn't happen...We should be alert to it, and aware of it, thinking about it, talking about it, and building the firewall against it."

Finally, because we suspect you need as much help as we do at shaking off today's nightmares --- and all of the ones we've endured over the past week (or even 3 an a half years) --- we close with some important advice from the great musical satirist, Randy Rainbow...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Eddie Perez of OSET Institute; Also: Trump's coronavirus Death March continues; SCOTUS allows religious groups to discriminate...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2020 6:14pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Things are going to get far worse before they finally get better. In this case, "worse" means far more deadly and "better" means an election this fall that somewhat accurately reflects the intent of the electorate. Donald Trump has now get the killing Americans part down, but he and his fixer/Attorney General are still feeling their way around how best to undermine the election. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Just weeks ago, in late May, the Trump Death Cultists on Fox "News" and those entrusted to govern states like Florida, were railing against media, demanding apologies by those who warned that opening up for business prematurely amid a deadly viral pandemic was a terrible idea. Republican Governors like Florida's Ron DeSantis and hackish clowns like Sean Hannity of Fox "News" aren't asking for apologies anymore, it seems, as at least 56 Florida hospital ICUs across the state have now hit capacity, with dozens more nearly full as well. Florida is just one such GOP-led state whose political decisions in advance of the November election have had deadly consequences as 31 states are now seeing infections and hospitalizations rise.

The conservative projected death estimates put out by the infectious disease modelers at University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) have once again been revised in the bargain. IHME now forecasts more than 208,000 deaths in the U.S. from COVID-19 by November 1, while noting that some 45,000 lives could be saved over that same period if we all simply wore masks in public. Other experts believe the mortality number could be as high as 500,000 by the end of this year.

So, again, we ask: At what point does it become a CRIMINAL act when DeSantis and Donald Trump and Vice President Pence command schoolchildren, amid this out-of-control surging pandemic, back to in-person classes next month, under thread of financial penalty, and in defiance of CDC guidelines? At least the CDC guidelines based on science and health data, versus Pence's newly promised revised CDC guidelines that the Administration ordered to be cooked up after Trump found the real ones to be too "tough" and "expensive". When do these people become liable for criminal deadly negligence or even mass murder?

This scheming is nothing short of sick and twisted. We will soon look back on these days with ghastly horror at what they have done in short-sighted and ill-considered hopes of winning re-election this November.

Speaking of which, while Trump and his corrupt A.G. Bill Barr have been out lying about absentee voting amid the pandemic, it seems Republican strategists and candidates are becoming quite concerned that their voters may be actually be listening to them. Many GOP voters new believe that vote-by-mail ballots are all fraudulent, which could end up costing the GOP dearly this year.

At the same time, folks like EDDIE PEREZ, Global Director of Technology and Standards at the OSET (Open Source Election Technology) Institute, has been doing his level best to debunk many of the lies about mail-in voting being infectiously spread by Trump and his Attorney General who, for example, recently declared that "a foreign country could print up tens of thousands of counterfeit ballots" and use them to undermine our elections somehow. Perez explains (and here's a shorter Twitter version of his explanation) why such claims are largely nonsense, even if there are, in fact, some concerns about fraud in absentee voting --- just not the ones that Trump and Barr are mostly trumpeting.

As no fan of absentee voting myself --- other than in cases where voters literally cannot vote at the polls on Election Day, or are forced to use 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems at the polling place, or when we find ourselves in the middle of an out-of-control deadly global pandemic --- I've got a few pointed questions for Perez on the reality of absentee ballot fraud.

Among the issues he speaks to: Whether ballots can really be counterfeited (by foreign or domestic actors alike); What security measures are in place to prevent someone from casting a ballot in someone else's name?; Should voters have confidence in signature matching by election officials who are not hand-writing experts? And more. "If nothing else," Perez tells me, "the country needs to realize --- and particularly election officials and Get Out The Vote organizations --- there are really, really good reasons to protect public health to make by-mail voting available to people, as one of several options. That's really critical. For November, you've got to have a balance. We need to pay attention to educating voters about what it's going to take to ensure that their ballot is accepted and counted."

Also, as Perez, before joining the non-profit OSET Institute, was a 15 year veteran of Hart-Intercivic, one of the nation's three major private voting system vendors (about whom we've reported a great deal of less than flattering things over the years), we take a few minutes today to discuss why private, for-profit vendors are ill-equipped to meet the critical needs of transparent, overseeable elections in support of American democracy. "I'll say that the one thing we can agree on," Perez notes, "is transparency in the voting process is what helps to build trust with the public. Transparency is what is going to produce confidence. And that's what we need in our democracy."

I didn't have the heart or time to respond that "trust" has nothing to do with Americans elections. But, other than that, on the need for transparent oversight to build confidence among the electorate, he is spot on.

Finally, two objectionable SCOTUS opinions were handed down today, allowing religious organizations to, among other things, ignore any and all state or federal anti-discrimination laws, because "freedom of religion", apparently, also now includes the freedom to take actual freedoms away from everyone else...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

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Guest: Slate's SCOTUS reporter Mark Joseph Stern on the 'canny legal' maneuverings of the Chief Justice; Also: MS votes to dump Confederate flag; Trump Campaign removed social distancing stickers before Tulsa Death Rally; COVID-19 now ravaging all but two states...
By Brad Friedman on 6/29/2020 7:04pm PT  

As life in the U.S. continues to get grimmer, we find a few much-needed points of light during today's BradCast! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up, the GOP-controlled Mississippi state legislature finally voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to remove the offensive Confederate flag symbol from their own state flag. Both the Governor and Lt. Governor support the move and the bill will be signed. Yes, the ongoing uprising against systemic racism in the U.S. continues to bring about long-overdue positive change! Also, there was (mostly) good news in a long-awaited abortion case at the U.S. Supreme Court today, but we'll get there in a second.

Before that, we've been arguing in recent days that Donald Trump should eventually be brought up on charges for what amounts to mass murder in his purposefully and criminally delinquent and negligent handling of the COVID crisis. More evidence of that affirmative endangerment of the public was reported over the weekend by the Washington Post, which obtained video evidence that the Trump Campaign, just hours before his June 20 campaign rally in Oklahoma, removed thousands of social distancing stickers placed on seats at Tulsa's BOK Center venue by its management. As the city's health director pleaded with the campaign to postpone the rally amid spiking infections rates, and local residents and business owners went all the way to the state's Supreme Court to try and block it, the Trump Campaign was purposely making it less safe for rally attendees. The infection rate in Tulsa has continued to spike since Trump's under-attended Death Rally (where he had falsely bragged in advance that there wouldn't be "an empty seat"), as infection rates now continue to rise in at least 36 states after the largest single day increase across the nation on Friday.

Florida, Texas and Arizona, with Republican Governors who were among the first to reopen, are now seeing among the largest growth in infections and hospitalizations in the country. That, despite Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' hubris-filled attacks on the media just weeks ago following an initial lack of new confirmed cases after reopening for Memorial Day and a now-embarrassing rant from Sean Hannity on Fox 'News' claiming that FL and NY "got it right", states like NY got it wrong (NY's infection rate was just 6% of Florida's on Friday) and that "the mob and the media....owe Gov. DeSantis a huge apology." Well, that didn't age well.

Then back to a bit more good(ish) news as the U.S. Supreme Court's Chief Justice John Roberts, for the third time in as many weeks, joined the Court's liberal wing on yet another major case --- well, mostly. It was enough, at least, to strike down an extremist anti-abortion measure in Louisiana, in any case. Had the attempt by state Republicans to insert Big Government in-between a woman and her doctor been upheld by the Court, it would have left the entire state of 4.6 million with just one single doctor legally allowed to perform the still-Constitutionally protected medical procedure.

We're joined today by one of our favorite SCOTUS corespondents, MARK JOSEPH STERN of Slate, to explain today's 4 to 1 to 4 opinion which resulted in the end of the state law requiring abortion doctors to unnecessarily obtain difficult-to-receive hospital admitting privileges. While abortion rights activists are breathing a sign of relief today, Stern explains, they likely won't have long to enjoy it. The Court with a stolen Republican Majority still appears hell bent on rolling back Roe v. Wade, he says.

While Roberts, in his own concurring opinion [PDF], effectively joined the liberals again today in striking down the Louisiana law --- again, maddening the right-wingers in the bargain --- he "is a very canny legal strategist, who still quite obviously opposes the Constitutional right to an abortion," Stern warns. In fact, what Roberts opinion today did was "leave us with a state of abortion jurisprudence that sort of rewinds the clock back to maybe 1992. Whereas, for the past four years, at least in theory, we have had a more robust protection of Constitutional rights."

With Roberts' new opinion, Stern reports, abortion rights proponents have actually lost some ground, even while the second "admitting privileges" law to find its way to the Court in four years was again struck down --- just like the previous virtually identical one out of Texas in 2016 (which Roberts then voted to uphold.)

The Chief Justice also voted recently with the Court's Democratic appointees to ban LGBTQ employment discrimination and in striking down Trump's rollback of DACA protections for hundreds of thousands of immigrant children who were brought here by their parents. So, why has Roberts seemingly become a "liberal squish" on three important landmark cases this session? Stern argues that he hasn't at all. Another ruling today regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in which the Court's rightwing 5 to 4 majority dreamed up new (non-existent) Constitutional powers for the Presidency, and a SCOTUS decision over the weekend to block absentee voting for all voters --- not just those 65 and older --- in Texas, in the middle of a pandemic, and in clear violation of the 26th Amendment, is just more evidence that the Republicans' stolen SCOTUS majority is still anything but "liberal", even after these three recent surprise opinions on LGBTQ rights, DACA and abortion.

Stern also offers his thoughts on whether Roberts would be voting as he has been of late if Justice Anthony Kennedy was still on the Court as its swing vote, and whether all of this suggests that the Court should now be expanded in response to theft of what should have been an actual liberal majority by now...

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Guest: Attorney Ron Fein of Free Speech for People; Also: Court nixes Trump 'national emergency' wall funding; TX, FL forced to re-close businesses as COVID spikes, Trump, Pence continuing lying about it...
By Brad Friedman on 6/26/2020 7:10pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why does Indiana's Secretary of State Connie Lawson believe her emails with other Secretaries of State, and potentially voting system vendors, should be exempt from disclosure via public records requests? She is claiming her discussions about those systems with members of the private National Association of Secretaries of State (and any private vendors they may discuss or hear from) should somehow be protected due to exemptions for trade secrets and national security that cannot be exposed to the public. A judge in Indiana, however, seems to believes she is wrong. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, a few items of breaking news amid our ongoing dystopian American nightmare...

  • A federal appeals court panel agreed today with a lower court judge that Donald Trump violated the law when he commandeered $2.5 billion in tax-payer dollars appropriated by Congress for the military in order to build his wall under the phony guise of a "national emergency". That, after Congress had specifically refused to allocate such funds. Bill Barr's corrupt Dept. of Justice will likely be appealing that one all the way up to the GOP's stolen U.S. Supreme Court if necessary;
  • As we have been warning for weeks (months?), the coronavirus pandemic is getting worse, not better, in the U.S. In particular, as we've demonstrated, many of the hardest hit regions where infection rates, ICU usage and deaths are skyrocketing are places where Republican politicians have been successful in joining our maniacal conman President in pretending the virus would simply go away if we just reopened our doors for business. That strategy has failed miserably and tragically. So much so, that the very Trumpy Republican Governors in two of the hardest hit states, Florida and Texas --- which were among the first to prematurely reopen --- were forced to re-close bars, restaurants and other businesses today as infections rates surge to record numbers in their states, and as ICU beds in some locations are quickly filling to capacity;
  • That, at the same time Vice President Mike Pence, who heads up the White House Coronavirus Task Force (remember them?), held their first press briefing in weeks to continue the Administration's attempted gaslighting of America to declare "very encouraging news" in the case numbers which are going straight up now in a majority of U.S. states;
  • Today's grim record COVID-19 numbers come just days after our failed President lied to his supporters at his latest maskless Death Rally inside a Phoenix church on Tuesday that "it's going away". It's not. It's getting worse. That was the same day in which internal White House task force documents, according to an NBC News exclusive, told both Trump and Pence that new case numbers in Phoenix --- which "had the highest number of new cases among the 10 metropolitan regions where the week-over-week change in infection rates spiked the most" --- was up some 150 percent over the past week. And, yes, infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths rates are rising as well, according to the White House's own numbers. That is not, despite the lies from both Trump and Pence, caused simply by "more testing".

With unabashed criminals like this now running our country --- and hopefully facing charges of criminal negligence if not mass murder someday soon --- we turn back to our "last firewall": our electoral system. There, we've got a bit of good news today, as Indiana Judge Heather Welch has rejected most of the claims made by the state's Sec. of State Connie Lawson (formerly a member of Trump's failed and phony "voter fraud" commission) to try and obscure her emails with members of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS).

The judge's ruling stems from a lawful request filed under Indiana's public records act. The suit, filed on behalf of the National Election Defense Council (NEDC) by Free Speech for People (FSFP), seeks those records in which Lawson was discussing voting systems with fellow Secretaries around the nation, NASS staffers, and, very likely, according to our guest today, private voting system vendors who wine, dine and lobby our nation's elections officials. In turn, those officials buy the unsecure, overly-expensive, error-prone computer voting and tabulation systems from the companies, and then parrot their talking points when the systems fail or when the public seeks to learn how they actually work (or don't.)

We're joined today by FSFP Legal Director RON FEIN to explain the court's recent ruling [PDF] in which the Judge rejected most of Lawson's claims to things like copyright and trade secret exemptions for her official Sec. of State emails. The judge is also demanding to privately review in her chambers those emails about which Lawson is claiming statutory exemption on the basis that disclosing those emails to the public would pose "a reasonable likelihood of threatening public safety by exposing a vulnerability to terrorist attack."

Lawson [pictured above with her newly purchased unverifiable computer voting systems] served as President of NASS from 2017 to 2018. She falsely testified [PDF] in 2017 before the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, during its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, that America's "voting machines are not connected to the Internet or networked in any way." That claim has been proven to be an out and out lie, over and over and again.

Nonetheless, if true, what possible "vulnerability to terrorist attack" could Lawson be referring to? Fein offers his thoughts, and explains why the judge's ruling that "access to public records is an important statutory right," is already a victory in this little known, but potentially very important case.

"The fact that the Indiana Secretary of State has fought so hard to keep these materials private suggests that at least some of them have something that's embarrassing that they don't want the public to see," Fein tells me, suggesting that, "In some cases, the [voting system] companies are either outright bribing or engaging in extremely unethical practices with election officials."

"One of the most essential elements of democracy is a free and fair election. And the free and fair election requires that it be secure and trustworthy...And we have misinformation out there about the security of these systems. When that misinformation is being spread by election officials whose job is supposed to be to spread accurate information and, if anything, tamp down misinformation, then it means that we have a crisis of legitimacy in the election," Fein explains. "What we're hoping through this public records access lawsuit is that, if we can shine a light on the processes by which election officials end up as vehicles for misinformation about the security and reliability of our election systems, then that will provide an opening for reform."

Please tune in for the full conversation, as we cover quite a bit of ground. And, just for the record, Lawson also misled the Senate Intelligence Committee when she insisted under oath that "no votes were changed in 2016." In fact, nobody actually knows one way or another, because nobody ever bothered to check.

Finally today, after yet another hellish week in Trump's America, we close with a smile and a song "celebrating" his under-attended Death Rally last weekend in Tulsa...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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As U.S. infections surge, EU may ban travel from America; Trump endangers Phoenix with campaign rally; KY, NY try to vote in primaries...
By Brad Friedman on 6/23/2020 6:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the COVID-19 crisis worsens in the U.S. as it improves in Europe and Asia, it's another fraught Election Day in several states, Trump threatens to sicken Arizona even more, and man-made global warming threatens everything. [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • Phoenix Mayor urges Trump to wear mask at local campaign rally as crisis grips state. But, don't worry! Phoenix church hosting Trump rally today has a miracle scheme to "kill 99.9 percent" of the COVID-19 virus!;
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as record heat blows past 100 degrees Fahrenheit in Siberia(!), Trump makes new pretend claims about wind power while rolling back protections for birds, UK builds world's largest liquid air battery...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 6/23/2020 11:06am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Months-long Arctic heat wave delivers all-time record high --- in Siberia; Extreme heat now kills more Americans than hurricanes or floods; Trump Administration rolls back decades-old protections for migratory birds as Trump lies about wind again at his sparsely attended Tulsa rally; PLUS: U.K. builds world's largest liquid air battery... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Big Oil is scared shitless; Slip-up reveals Chevron ties to architect of climate attack; Epidemic of contaminated medical waste is following the coronavirus; Record plume of Sahara Desert dust aims at Southeast U.S.; Long-simmering water battle comes to a boil in CA; Utility ransomware attacks becoming more sophisticated, new 'honeypot' operation finds... PLUS: Capitalism is destroying 'safe operating space' for humanity, warn scientists... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Roosevelt Univ. political scientist David Faris; Also: GOP denial continues despite new record COVID-19 infection rates; Biden up by double-digits in several new key battleground state polls...
By Brad Friedman on 6/17/2020 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More bad news on the spread of the coronavirus and more bad news for Donald Trump --- though at least the latter is potentially very good news for America! [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Vice President Mike Pence continues to beclown himself on behalf of Donald Trump, writing in the Wall Street Journal yesterday that "We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy" and that the Administration's response to the coronavirus is "a cause for celebration". That, as the U.S. has now seen over 2,000,000 infections and the COVID-19 death toll in our nation is at least as high as 119,000...and climbing.

On the same day Pence's op-ed was published, there was a record spike in cases was seen in at least six states on Tuesday, including Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma (ready for Trump's campaign rally on Saturday?), Oregon, Texas and Nevada. The Republican Governors of most of those states are either in denial or simply lying to their constituents about the deadly impacts of the virus in their states, suggesting that it's due to increased testing, while ignoring the record surge in the percentages of positive tests (Florida, Oklahoma) and hospitalizations (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma). Oregon has a Democratic Governor, but their outbreak appears tied to 200 cases from a crowded Pentecostal church service held in late May, in violation of state restrictions. The other states all appear to have reopened for business far too early, as their Governor's downplayed the risk of the virus and the need for simple safety measures.

Democratic and Republican Mayors of the six largest cities in Texas have written an open letter begging Governor Abbott to allow them to mandate masking in their cities, pleading with him to "restore the ability for local authorities to enforce the wearing of face coverings in public venues where physical distancing cannot be practiced." Infectious disease epidemiologists (such as the University of Arizona's Dr. Purnima Mahdivanan, who we interviewed on yesterday's show) argue masking is one of the easiest, cheapest and most important ways to help stem the spread of the coronavirus. Abbott, however, is disallowing local municipalities to do so, even as he is blaming the increased infections on residents under 30 who, he says, are not wearing masks.

And yet, "we are winning," argues Pence, as he prepares to join Trump for his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday after new cases rose in the state by some 68% over the past week. In all, at least 17 states saw a rise in new cases over the past week, giving new meaning to Trump's May 2016 remarks at a rally in Billings, Montana, when he said: "We’re going to win so much, you’re going to be so sick winning!"

In the meantime, while Americans are sick and getting sicker, Donald Trump appears to be badly losing, not winning, in a number of key battleground states across the country. New state polling finds him losing to Joe Biden by double-digits in both two new polls in several new polls in Michigan and Florida (where his 22% advantage in 2016 over Hillary Clinton among voters 65 years of age and older has plummeted some 31% since(!), resulting in a 9 point lead for Biden among that group in the Sunshine State.) Formerly "red" Arizona now also appears to be falling into the Biden column, with the latest poll finding the former Veep up by about 4 points. Even Georgia and Iowa, both traditionally solid Republican states are now polled as toss-ups, with Biden up by 2 in GA and Trump up by just 1 in IA. We dig into some of the details from those polls.

That said, Trump has come back from bad poll numbers before. Our guest today, Roosevelt University political scientist DAVID FARIS, however, tempts the gods by arguing in his latest column at The Week that "This time is different for Trump". Why does he believe that? He joins us to explain --- and to take a few challenges from me on that point...

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Guest: Univ. of Arizona infectious disease epidemiologist Dr. Purnima Madhivanan on AZ's 'crisis mode' surge in COVID cases, state officials' deadly denial since prematurely reopening, and 'believing in science'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/16/2020 7:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are ramping up efforts to pretend, lie and try to distract their way out of the coronavirus crisis in advance of their re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. The virus doesn't care. As our guest today notes, "the virus is non-partisan." [Audio link to full, must-listen show is posted below.]

Even as COVID-19 cases are spiking around the country --- including in OK, where new cases surged 68% in the second week of June and where Tulsa's top health official and major newspaper are both begging Trump to call off this Saturday's planned campaign rally --- both men are now lying about both the growth in infections and in hospitalizations since states have begun reopening for business over the past several weeks.

They are both falsely explaining away the rise in confirmed infections in more than a dozen states as due to increased testing. It isn't. What epidemiologists are worried about is the rise in the percentage rate of positives tests, no matter the increase or decrease in the number of tests performed and about rising hospitalization rates, which are the best indicator of the increasing virulence of the pandemic in various parts of the country.

Pence reportedly instructed Governors, during a phone call on Monday, to lie about both matters, stating "the magnitude of increase in testing" explains the rise in positive cases and that increased hospitalizations are only because "people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery." But hospitalizations for elective procedures are decidedly not what infectious disease specialists are worried about, nor are they included in the spiking and often record rates of hospitalizations being seen right now for COVID-19 infections.

As we have been explaining on the show in recent days, as rates rise in Texas and Florida and Arizona (all three hit records for single day increases today) and elsewhere since Governors in those states prematurely reopened and are now seeing skyrocketing rates of illness since doing so, there is still no treatment, no cure, and no vaccine for the coronavirus. Lifting lock-down orders, failing to wear masks, and ignoring social distancing as many have now done, is little different than had we all done so in March and April as the virus first emerged.

In fact, as one of the very conservative COVID models --- one cited by the White House --- was adjusted today to predict more than 200,000 deaths in the U.S. by the first of October, our guest today explains why she believes "we are in a worse situation now" than we were back in March and April.

"We have a lot of infectious people in the community that we didn't have earlier on," notes DR. PURNIMA MADHIVANAN, infectious disease epidemiologist and Associate Professor at the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. "I would say it's Phase 2 in that regard. We have a lot more people who are infectious, who are shedding the virus, than when we had started earlier on."

Describing ICU beds, particularly in Phoenix, at near-capacity rates just one month after reopening, Madhivanan, Director of her school's Global Health Training Program, says the state of Arizona is in "crisis mode. We need to be doing something, like, yesterday." That, as Republican Governor Doug Ducey --- who abruptly announced reopening plans early last month on the same day as a visit to the state by Donald Trump --- continues to downplay the state's worsening predicament, despite a 76% increase in cases since the end of May and records of new cases and hospitalizations being consistently topped in recent days.

Madhivanan tells me she sees the state running out of ICU space within a week. "We have a crisis situation right here in Phoenix. And if [Ducey] were smart, he would close off the borders to Phoenix yesterday." This is not a so-called "second wave," she cautions. "We haven't even peaked with the first wave yet. We are number 42 among all states in terms of testing rates. So we haven't even gotten to the level where we can say our testing rates are good. And we've not even mentioned contact tracing yet. That's practically non-existent, and a huge concern."

It didn't have to be this way, Madhivanan explains, but for Ducey's abrupt reversal in early May. "What we had actually projected and predicted was we would get to the peak around the end of June, if everything had gone the way we had predicted with all the physical distancing in place, stay-at-home orders. But when the stay-at-home orders were not followed through, that peak came much, much earlier, and we are still continuing up on that wave. We have not come down yet."

This is an important, must-listen, detailed conversation which extends well beyond Arizona. I couldn't even begin to adequately summarize it here. We discuss the denialists and claims from mostly non-epidemiologists and ideologists who charge that lock-downs have made the situation worse, asserting that allowing for "herd immunity" to develop would have been a smarter strategy. She details why she strongly disagrees, explaining that it would have taken years and resulted in exponentially more deaths, in the millions, here in the U.S. Madhivanan further says containment, unlike during the SARS crisis of 2003-2004, became impossible "because we have an uncoordinated and poorly managed COVID response" at the federal level.

That means the only option left is shutdowns, mask wearing (which, she argues, makes a huge difference in mitigating spread of the virus), hand-washing and physical distancing. But, she laments, there is now very little, if any, of that being done in her state. Ducey has never mandated masking, for example, even as "masks are our lowest-hanging fruit and one of the most economical interventions. If all of us did it, we can dramatically bring down the number of infections."

She warns things are going to get much worse before they get better anytime soon. "If we had used the period of the shutdown to put comprehensive testing and tracing protocols in place, this investment would have paid off in the long run. But we failed to do that. So we only delayed the day of reckoning for us."

"At some point people need to start believing in science, is all I can say. We have the data, we have the evidence, and the science is pretty clear about this. We were not ready and we should not have opened," Madhivanan insists.

Finally, after a bit more news on the 28 states in the U.S. where infection rates are decidedly NOT falling, no matter how hard the Administration and his supporters are still trying to pretend it all away, we've got a bit of breaking news that came just before air time on Donald Trump hoping to sue John Bolton's upcoming new book away.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report. That, of course, as usual, includes nothing but lots of much-needed sunshine and flowers! (Hey, if Trump and Pence can lie about absolutely everything, we can too, right?)

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 6/16/2020 11:17am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Supreme Court clears the way for controversial fracked natural gas pipeline; Microplastics are raining down on our national parks; Trump plans to open up Florida for offshore drilling --- after the election; PLUS: Administration accelerates resource extraction and cruel wildlife hunting practices on the public's lands... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Trump’s EPA balks at a chance to save black lives; A war against climate science, waged by Washington’s rank and rile, protecting their jobs; Trump administration blocks tribes from protecting their waters; Americans increasingly understand that climate change harms human health; Scientists warn against Trump's consumer protection nominee... PLUS: Love is Blind: How Germany's Long Romance With Cars Led to the Nation's Biggest Clean Energy Failure... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Voting rights journalist Ari Berman on the many ways Republicans are working to undermine 2020 and how you can help stop them...
By Brad Friedman on 6/12/2020 7:07pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the conversation that everyone in America who gives a damn about democracy needs to be having. And, not in the days just before this November's election --- when it will be too late to do anything about it --- but RIGHT NOW. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

In Florida, the top Democrat in the state's House of Representative is sounding an "urgent" alarm. He says that absentee ballots in the perpetual swing-state could be gamed by the Trump Administration using the U.S. Postal Service to slow the return of ballots. In the Sunshine State, any ballots that don't arrive at County Headquarters by 7pm on Election Day may not be included in the results. Minority Leader Kionne McGhee is calling for barcodes to be added to absentee ballots so that voters can track whether they have been received by election officials, so that they may otherwise vote in person on Election Day if necessary.

While calling on the state's Republican Governor to take action that would also help Republicans (who voted at a higher rate by mail than Democrats in 2018), a Trump Campaign spokesperson dismissed McGhee's concerns as "an absolutely bogus conspiracy theory by Democrats." (And you know how Trump hates conspiracy theories.) Of course, Republican willingness to commit fraud, especially in Florida elections, is anything but a "conspiracy theory". In fact, Donald Trump himself, just this year, has already committed absentee ballot voter fraud in the state. So, apparently, has his Press Secretary Kayleigh MacEneny. Former GOP superstar Ann Coulter definitely did so. And so, it seems, did Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop charged with the murder of George Floyd. Chauvin, a property owner in Florida, where he is also a member of the state Republican Party, reportedly voted in the state's elections in 2016 and 2018, despite working and living in Minnesota, in what a Florida attorney and candidate for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections this year describes as a third-degree felony.

Democrats, meanwhile, have been jailed for much less than what both Trump and Chauvin are accused of having done in Florida.

Presumptive Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden is similarly worried about what the current President and his party may do to undermine the 2020 contest, telling The Daily Show's Trevor Noah this week that his "single greatest concern" is that "this President is going to try to steal this election."

Stolen or not, despite Trump's plummeting favorability ratings, this year's critical general elections will be anything but a cakewalk for Democrats amid the added challenge of coronavirus. Tuesday's disastrous primary election in Georgia was just one example of how Republicans are able to disenfranchise tens, if not hundreds of thousands of votes through the use of overly complicated, faulty and unverifiable touchscreen voting machines and electronic pollbooks in combination with poll closures and mail-in ballots that never reach voters at all or fail to arrive back at county headquarters in time to be legally tallied.

Moreover, as a new study [PDF] out this week from the Center for Election Innovation and Research finds, new voter registration rates in 13 different states they examined --- many of them key battlegrounds --- have fallen dramatically since the virus emerged in March and April. After all of those states saw increases in registrations in January, as compared to the same month in 2016, the numbers fell over a cliff compared to the same months four years ago. With DMVs closed in many states, automatic voter registrations have also not occurred since the virus emerged, and many states still fail to offer online voter registration. At the same time, voter registrations by third-party groups have similarly all but vanished as organizations have been unable to carry out their planned spring outreach campaigns.

Longtime voting rights journalist and author ARI BERMAN of Mother Jones joins us on today's program to discuss all of this and much more. His latest article for the magazine, headlined "How the Coronavirus Handed the GOP New Ways to Squash the Vote," details some of the extraordinary measures that Republicans around the country, in state after state, are attempting in hopes of suppressing the vote in 2020. That, combined with the challenges of a global pandemic, could result in big trouble for voters of all stripes this year.

Citing the recent primary election disasters in Georgia, Washington D.C., Wisconsin and Nevada (where, he says, polling place consolidation resulted in the last vote being cast during last Tuesday's primary after 3am on Wednesday!), he warns: "If we don't figure out how to do Vote-by-Mail efficiently, and also how to vote in person efficiently, and also how to do this in a pandemic, we're looking at a possible and likely disaster in November."

We discuss the "ridiculous law" in Texas that disallows voters under 65 years of age from citing fear of coronavirus as a lawful excuse for requesting an absentee ballot; the effort by Republicans in the Iowa legislature this week to prevent their own Republican Sec. of State from sending absentee ballot applications to all of the state's registered voters this November (in hopes of avoiding the very well run primary last week in which he did exactly that); and other ways in which the 2020 elections --- our last firewall against full-on authoritarianism --- could become the nation's latest nightmare. Berman tells me "litigation alone" by Democrats is "not going to be sufficient" to solve this perfect storm of problems.

"These conversations have to happen now," he cautions. "States are running out of time. They're running out of money. Coronavirus is increasing in a lot of places. So I'm really, really concerned," he says. Join the club, Ari. On the upside, Berman also discusses how you can help RIGHT NOW to overcome many of these shameful challenges.

Finally, after all of those pleasant thoughts, we end today with a much-needed song by satirist Roy Zimmerman about a "liar" who needs to be voted away. Of course, whether that is even possible remains to be seen. But the song should keep your humming for a while...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Trump's top General apologizes; Confederate monuments fall...
By Brad Friedman on 6/11/2020 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Sometimes it's good news when bad news arrives. At least when it's a breath of reality in the Trump Era. [Audio link to today''s show is posted below the summary.]

We've been trying on this program to make some sense in recent weeks of Wall Street's alternative reality, as seen over the past 12 weeks or so while millions of Americans have become unemployed as states ordered shutdowns and business closures while the coronavirus wreaked deadly havoc across the country. The economy has, understandably, tanked in the bargain. But the stock market's major indexes have nonetheless surged some 44.5% between late March and this week. American billionaires, as discussed in detail on a recent show, have seen their fortunes rise by some $565 billion between March 18 and the first week of June, even as the economy has largely ground to halt and entered its worst recession since the Great Depression.

The irrational exuberance of Wall Street has continued week after week, for each of the past twelve, while millions of American have newly filed unemployment claims in record numbers that simply blow away any other downturn in our nation's history beyond the Great Depression. Major companies like Hertz and J.C. Penney are declaring bankruptcy, and yet the marketeers in the Wall Street casino continue to bid up the companies share prices. On Wednesday, the NASDAQ hit its all time high. Not its highest level during the pandemic, but its ALL TIME highest trading price.

It's as if the market and the reality of the economy exist on two entirely different planets. But they don't. That was made clear again today as yet another 1.5 million new jobless claims were reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaving anywhere from 20 to 40 million Americans out of work and Congress' expansion of unemployment benefits set to expire at the end of next month.

And yet, as Donald Trump becomes increasingly concerned about his reelection chances, he and his supporters are citing the booming stock market as if it's the same thing as the economy. It decidedly isn't. That reality finally appears to have hit home on Thursday --- at least for now --- as the Dow plunged some 1,800 points along with the other major market indexes which plummeted as well. Traders seem to have finally noticed that the coronavirus can't simply be pretended away. It is not only NOT going away anytime soon, but infections and hospitalizations are currently surging to record highs in at least 21 states on the heels of many of those states --- talking to you Arizona and Texas, among others --- dangerously "reopening" far too early.

Some have (wrongly) dismissed the reported increases in the number of confirmed infections as an byproduct of increased testing. That is not true. The increases of note are in both the percentages of positive tests and in hospitalizations in many areas around the U.S. That disturbing surge comes largely before we begin to see whether the past two weeks or nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd substantively adds to the totals, as some fear.

Ultimately, today's market crash can be seen as "good" news, in that perhaps reality is finally catching up with the markets whose inflated value has helped to prevent Donald Trump and his Republican sycophants in Congress from taking the necessary actions needed to prevent both the economy and the health of the American people from becoming decidedly worse. I've got a rant or two about all of this on today's show.

But there was more heavily-qualified "good" news on Thursday as Trump's Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, Army General Mark Milley, made clear in a video-taped statement, that it was a "mistake" for him to have joined Trump for his obnoxious photo-op last week at St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House after Trump ordered peaceful protesters violently cleared out of Lafayette Square.

And, in further encouraging news, protesters around the country have begun to take matters into their own hands in removing offensive monuments to Confederate traitors who rebelled against the United States and killed hundreds of thousands in the bargain, in hopes of preserving slavery in "the land of the free". On Wednesday, a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Richmond, VA, the former capital of the Confederacy, was pulled down, as other such statues --- many of them erected decades after the Civil War during the Jim Crow era, as segregationist policies further institutionalized white supremacy in the U.S. --- were defaced, decapitated or destroyed as well. Yes, I've got a thought or two on all of that today as well.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which major environmental groups are also taking action towards racial justice within their own organizations in the wake of nationwide protests, and as communities of color continue to be disproportionately harmed by pollution, climate change and other environmental issues. She also has a bit of good news regarding a newly coal-free Britain and some less good news on our latest new plague in the U.S. --- or, at least in Florida: giant toxic toads! Buckle up!

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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