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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, April 13, 2021
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
Under Trump, the federal agency created a Catch-22 on new rule by requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid the 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best political toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
The Swift and Pathetic Downfall of AL's Sleazy SoS John Merrill: 'BradCast' 4/8/21
Also: Other sorry sleazy news from a GOP in free fall; Biden's gun safety executive actions; Manchin's ridiculous blockade of progress...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Biden speaks to dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Looming wave of abandoned oil, gas wells; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
Previous GNRs: 4/6/21 - 4/1/21 - Archives...
Overcoming Trump's Sabotage to Restore Landmark Iran Nuke Deal: 'BradCast' 4/7
Guest: Dr. Trita Parsi of the Quincy Inst.; Also: 10 Dem Reps join insurrection lawsuit against Trump; Update on Amazon union vote in AL...
Dems Hit Legislative Jackpot; Repubs' Trip to Looneyland: 'BradCast' 4/6/21
Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Ind. bills to nix renewables, block small govt; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
'Green News Report' 4/6/21
FL Wastewater crisis FL; Admin pushes back on GOP opposition to infrastructure; Earliest cherry blossoms in 1,200 years; PLUS: Springfield, MA victory for breathers...
Vaccination Nation: 'BradCast' 4/5/21
Wherein Brad and Desi get a first dose; COVID cases surge again, esp. among young; U.S. tops its record for shot distribution in race with new variants; Listeners ring in with own experiences, concerns on all of the above...
Sunday 'Hippity Hoppity' Toons
Here comes PDiddie's latest toon collection for Easter Day! Hop on over!...
EAC Sued After Allowing Modems in Vote Systems Following Private Meets with Vendors: 'BradCast' 4/2/21
Guest: FSFP's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Capitol attack; MLB pulls GA All-Star game...
Paying the High Price of Corporate Capture: 'BradCast' 4/1/21
Also: CA drought returns; De-Trumpifying the EPA...
'Green News Report' 4/1/21
'GNR' Special Coverage: Biden's sweeping, $2T American Jobs Plan to rebuild nation's infrastructure, take on the climate crisis...
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: Susan Greenhalgh, Senior Election Security Advisor at Free Speech for People; Also: Officer killed in new U.S. Capitol attack; MLB pulls All-Star game out of GA; Boehner's message for Cruz...
By Brad Friedman on 4/2/2021 7:37pm PT  

We've got another sorry tale on today's BradCast of yet another federal "watchdog" agency clearly captured by the industry corporations that it is supposed to be overseeing and/or regulating. This time, democracy itself is at stake. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But first up today, we had quite a bit of breaking news just before airtime. For a start, the U.S. Capitol was locked down on Friday after two Capitol Police officers were rammed in a violent attack with a vehicle. One of the officers, an 18-year veteran, was killed. The other was said to be "fighting for his life" as of airtime. After ramming the officer, the assailant is said to have "lunged" at officers with a knife and was subsequently shot and killed. The assault was the most serious threat on the Capitol since the Donald Trump-incited insurrection on January 6th, which killed five, including one U.S. Capitol Police officer. Two more officers took their lives in the ensuing days after that attack by Trump supporters attempting to stop Congressional ratification of Joe Biden's 2020 Electoral College victory.

That attack --- and Trump's evidence-free Big Lie about his loss being the result of "fraud" --- continues to reverberate almost three months since the MAGA Mob's assault on U.S. democracy. Last week, Georgia's Republican-dominated state legislature adopted a massive voter suppression bill that will make it more difficult to vote by, among other things, requiring additional forms of ID for mail voting, limiting absentee ballot drop-boxes and early voting hours, and banning the distribution of food or beverages to voters forced to wait hours on line. It would also allow partisan GOP officials to undermine County Boards of Election and even overturn results. The state's Governor, Brian Kemp (R), signed the sweeping bill almost immediately after it passed both chambers of the state legislature in a matter of hours.

This week, after some 70 Black corporate executives spoke out against the transparent attempt to making voting more difficult for minorities in the state, a cascade of other corporate entities --- including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola, both based in Atlanta --- finally decided to speak out in favor of democracy and against voter suppression. And then, on Friday, shortly before today's show, Major League Baseball announced they will be moving the All-Star Game and MLB Draft, previously set for July in Atlanta, to another state in response to the GOP attack on voting.

And, as Georgia Republicans pushed back on Delta Airlines this week for belatedly standing up for the right to vote, Gov. Kemp took his shot at the company by accusing its CEO of "false attacks" by claiming misleadingly in a statement: "The last time I flew Delta I had to show my ID."

But Kemp, the state's former Sec. of State, certainly knows that flying is a privilege, where voting is a right. He also likely knows that, no, an ID is not required to fly on Delta or any other airline. As clearly explained on the TSA.gov website...

In the event you arrive at the airport without valid identification...you may still be allowed to fly. The TSA officer may ask you to complete an identity verification process which includes collecting information such as your name, current address, and other personal information to confirm your identity. If your identity is confirmed, you will be allowed [to fly].

In the meantime, as to real --- versus imagined or opportunistic and partisan --- threats of fraud in our elections, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the federal agency tasked with overseeing voting system security standards, is continuing the woeful job it has done since its creation by the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Since its inception, as we have documented at The BRAD BLOG for almost 20 years, the EAC has largely been captured by the private voting system vendors whose systems they are supposed to be testing, overseeing, regulating and certifying as meeting minimal standards.

For years, the EAC has consistently helped mislead the public regarding the dangers of modems inside of computer voting and tabulation systems. The EAC's original Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG), created about 15 years ago, allowed for use of the devices which cybersecurity experts have long warned can be used to introduce malware into systems that could disrupt elections or change results.

In August of 2019, as we detailed on the program at the time with cybsersecurity journalist Kim Zetter, a group of security and voting systems experts discovered "nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states" such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida. In January of 2020, almost six months after Zetter's exclusive and disturbing report, Cynthia McFadden followed up with her own report at NBC News, in which, despite federal officials repeatedly and falsely declaring that "U.S. voting systems are never connected to the Internet," the President of the nation's largest vendor, Elections Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), conceded that at least 14,000 of the company's modems were being used in vulnerable voting and tabulation systems across the country, even as the 2020 election cycle was getting under way.

Nonetheless, over the last five years, the EAC has been working with stakeholders --- from elections officials to cybersecurity experts to vendors --- to develop new minimum security standards for the nation's voting systems, which they call VVSG 2.0. The good news is that the draft of those final standards for the VVSG 2.0, made available for public comment last Summer, included a ban on modems and other wireless communications devices in computerized voting and tabulation systems.

The bad news: After the public comment period and before the new standards were officially adopted by the EAC Commissioners, they apparently met in secret with several vendors and quietly changed the new standards to once again allow for modems and other wireless communications devices in new voting systems.

After the standards changed and weakened without public notice, the non-partisan government watchdog, Free Speech for People (FSFP), filed public records requests for documentation of the non-public meetings between EAC officials and the voting machine companies. Despite acknowledging hundreds of pages of existing documents responsive to the request, according to our guest today, the EAC failed to turn over any of it to the group. Now, FSFP is suing the EAC for those documents.

We're joined today by longtime election integrity advocate SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at FSFP, to explain the organization's lawsuit [PDF], and the latest, extraordinary failure to protect our elections by the corporate-captured EAC.

"We have a real lack of leadership from the federal agency that's supposed to be helping assist election officials run election more efficiently, securely, accessibly and transparently at the EAC," Greenhalgh explains, charging "they're letting the vendors help weaken the standards directly."

"The EAC is way, way too deferential to the vendors," she says. "They need to either do the right thing and do their job, or they need get out of the lane and come up with some other way. Because there's an expectation by members of Congress that this is being taken care of, that the EAC is doing their job, they're developing the standards, they're testing voting systems. Unless you scratch the surface and find out what's really going on, you might think on the outside that they're doing their job, and they're not. They're taking up that space, and that makes us all less safe and secure in our elections."

There is, as you might guess, much more that Greenhalgh has to explain about this ongoing mess and FSFP's legal efforts to crack open the EAC blockade.

Finally, we close today with a rather hilarious audio message from former, George W. Bush-era Republican House Speaker John Boehner, to Texas' Trumpy, conspiracy-loving U.S. Senator Ted Cruz...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Caren Short, Voting Rights Attny, Southern Poverty Law Center...
By Brad Friedman on 3/29/2021 6:48pm PT  

Attempted voter suppression must come at a very serious cost to the suppressors. Hopefully, we are beginning to see at least some of that beginning to build in Georgia on today's BradCast --- even as voting rights advocates are forced to take legal action to block this latest attack on democracy by the state's Republican Party. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Hopefully, the blowback is just beginning. Last Wednesday, we were joined on the show by Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance, as she warned about the massive voter suppression bill that Republicans in the GA state legislature were trying to jam through before this week's final day of the legislative session. But, in less than 24 hours, by Thursday, voting rights advocates were stunned --- and, arguably, caught off guard --- when the GOP-dominated state House and Senate both adopted a newly-introduced, nearly 100-page bill to pare back voting rights in a single day, before the measure, known as SB 202, was then signed just an hour or so later by long-time champion GOP vote suppressor and former Sec. of State, Governor Brian Kemp. For good measure, he did so under a painting of a slave plantation as an elected African-American member of the state House of Representatives was arrested for trying to witness the signing behind closed doors.

The measure, among other things, will increase ID requirements for absentee voting; reduce early in-person voting in some places; restrict the use of drop-boxes for mail-in ballots; ban the distribution of food and beverages to voters waiting in Georgia's famously long (in some places) voting lines; threaten third-party advocacy groups with criminal prosecution if they dare send an absentee ballot request form to someone already signed up to vote by mail; and, perhaps most perniciously, according to Marks sounding the alarm last week, allow the state's majority-GOP legislature to essentially take over control of the State Board of Elections. In turn, the State Board can then replace entire County Boards of Elections with a single partisan person, pretty much for any reason they like, threatening to both undermine or even overturn election results at the county level in...ya know...certain counties --- just as Donald Trump tried to do after losing the 2020 election in The Peach State last year.

All of that, despite zero evidence of fraud or mistally in last year's Presidential election in Georgia, where three statewide counts --- twice by machines, once by hand --- all confirmed the results, which the state confirmed to be free of fraud.

Since passage and signing of SB 202 last week, not one, but two lawsuits have been filed to try and block the law, charging that it violates both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), as the multiple civil and voting rights group plaintiffs allege the new voting restrictions are specifically designed to target minority voters. The President of the United States has subsequently described the law as "un-American", an "atrocity" and "Jim Crow in the 21st Century". Despite all of that, it ultimately could be the Major League Baseball Player's Association which ends up making a real difference in regards this new anti-democracy scheme. The players are reportedly deciding whether to demand this year's MLB All-Star Game, currently set for Atlanta in July, be moved to a different state if the law is not struck down.

At the same time, federal laws --- such as the For the People Act (H.R.1) or John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R.4) --- which would help protect against a number of the worst GOP voter suppression tactics now adopted by the Peach State and moving ahead in others where Republicans are considering similar measures, will not pass unless the undemocratic Jim Crow-era U.S. Senate Filibuster is, in some fashion, killed or reformed.

We're joined today by CAREN SHORT, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center to discuss all of this. While her group has not yet joined either of the two federal lawsuits filed against Georgia's law, she suggests they are considering as much. In the meantime, she explains what she finds so devious about GA's racist new law, and whether or not the current lawsuits --- or even the Dept. of Justice --- may be able to reverse the worst of SB 202's attack on voters and voting in the state.

Among the issues we discuss with Short: Her views on the worst aspects of SB 202; Whether its possible to demonstrate a disproportionate affect on minority voters before an election is run with this new law in place; How the portion of the Voting Rights Act struck down by SCOTUS in 2013 would likely have prevented this entire bill from even being introduced in the first place; Whether the DoJ has grounds for filing suit themselves under still-standing portions of the VRA to protect Georgia voters; And how courts will determine whether FEARS of voter fraud (in the absence of same) is enough to justify taking rights already granted to voters away from them, among much more!

"You're right, there's a lot to be troubled about," she tells me at the top of our discussion. "This bill is troubling. It would really disenfranchise a lot of people in Georgia. Although it would apply equally to everyone, it is specifically targeted to harm black voters, brown voters, young people, voters with disabilities --- and it will do so."

"You mentioned that democracy is everyone's job. I could not agree more with that," Short says, when I ask what needs to be done to see the filibuster reformed in the U.S. Senate so that H.R.1 and H.R.4 can passed and become law. "These are our representatives. These are our policy makers. They represent what we want. ... We need democracy reform. We need transparency. We need fairness. We need protections for folks in the Deep South who are facing bills like the one in Georgia. This cannot stand. It cannot happen in my name as an American. We need to get involved. This is our moment. Call your friends who live in those states who are going to be needed for filibuster reform, if necessary. Some Democratic folks have said, 'failure is not an option.' And it's absolutely true."

Finally, with both good and worrying news about COVID (good, in that President Biden has announced vaccine distribution is moving ahead even quicker than previously hoped; worrying, in that the new CDC Director is "scared" with a sense of "impending doom" about the recent 16% rise in infections as mask mandates have been lifted in some states), we open up the phones for a quick call or two on all of this at the end of another important and lively hour...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Public Citizen's Matt Kent on the Congressional Review Act's closing window; Also: IA, GA Repubs pass vote suppression bills; Palm Beach resident Trump votes by absentee...again...
By Brad Friedman on 3/9/2021 6:32pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Democrats could roll back dozens of toxic and/or corrupt Trump-era regulations, many of which had, themselves, rolled back previous regulations. And they can do it with a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote in the U.S. Senate. But they must act quickly. So, what's the hold up? [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

First up today, however, some quick elections news. Donald Trump, who decried absentee voting for everyone but himself while he lived at the White House and voted by mail unlawfully using Mar-a-Lago as his voting address, had previous claimed it was just fine that he voted by absentee, since he was legitimately not in Palm Beach, Florida to cast his vote.  Well, Palm Beach is holding municipal elections today, and guest which current resident of the town has requested an absentee ballot to vote?

Meanwhile, the post-2020 GOP attempt to roll back access to the ballot is gaining speed in state legislatures across the country. The Brennan Center for Justice cites more than 200 such measures proposed in more than 40 states as of mid-February.  One of them, a bill in Iowa that shortens Early Voting days and polling place hours, among other restrictions, was signed into law by the state's Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds on Monday.  On Tuesday, civil rights groups filed suit.

Down in Georgia, a massive number of restrictions on voting --- most notably, mail-in voting --- are being quickly passed by both chambers of the state General Assembly.  As in Iowa, it's all being done with party line votes, with furious Democrats voting in opposition. On Monday, the GA state Senate passed a bill that, among other things, ends no-excuse absentee voting for most voters, even as 1.3 million took advantage of the convenient (and, during a pandemic, safer) way to vote in last year's Presidential election. But after Democrats won that election in November and both U.S. Senate runoffs in January, Republicans are now hoping to reverse the no-excuse mail-in voting law they themselves passed with their GOP-majority back in 2005. Shamefully, that is not the only new restriction that Republican state lawmakers are trying to enact in the Peach State, with many of the new restrictions aimed at suppressing minority voters.  And, as in Iowa, despite a lack of evidence of any voter fraud in their elections, Republicans are pretending that these new suppression tactics are necessary to prevent voter fraud.

Many provisions of the restrictive bills being pushed through state legislatures would be blocked by the Democrats' major voting rights bill, H.R.1, the "For the People Act" at the federal level.  The bill has already been passed in the U.S. House (with zero GOP votes), but unless the Senate filibuster rules are reformed --- or Joe Manchin comes to his senses (or both) --- the bill will almost certainly fail to overcome Republican opposition in the upper chamber.

At the same time, however, while Democrats are forced to look forward to protect upcoming elections, there are scores of corrupt, dangerous, Trump-era federal regulations that can now be rolled back with a simple majority vote in both chambers of Congress. No need to get 60 votes in the Senate! But Democrats have to act fast to overturn these Trump rules before the clock runs out on the 60 legislative days since the new Congress began which allow for rolling back a previous Administration's regulatory rules under the Clinton-era Congressional Review Act (CRA).

There is an enormous number of measures that Democrats could reverse immediately, enacted at the last minute by the Trump Administration at dozens of federal agencies such as the EPA, Dept. of Interior, Dept. of Energy, USDA, NOAA, Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Transportation, Dept. of Labor, HUD, HHS, the Veterans Administration, DHS and others. But, as Public Citizen has been reporting, the window to repeal parts of "Trump's deregulatory legacy" is quickly closing before an April 4th deadline to introduce simple resolutions for each specific regulatory action they wish to roll back.

We're joined today by MATT KENT, Regulatory Policy Associate at Public Citizen who, with Amit Narang, has been furiously attempting to sound the alarm about all of this (and about the regulations that the Trump Administration screwed up when issuing them, making it even easier for Biden to reverse on his own.)

"Anything completed within 60 legislative days of the end of the preceding Congress --- so, for our purposes, anything the Trump Administration finalized after August 21, 2020 --- anything after that is available to be undone by this Congress," Kent explains. "There's a real opportunity here for the Biden Administration and the Democratic Congress to more or less supercharge their efforts to use the CRA, to really expand the scope of regulations that are available to be removed --- deregulatory action is a better way to put it."

"This is a filibuster buster," he tells me. "This is something you can use to really get around a huge roadblock in the Senate. That's the way it was designed by the Republicans who created the law."

While the non-partisan government watchdog Public Citizen has long opposed the CRA, Kent argues turnabout is fair play. While the law was little used until Trump came to office, Republicans too advantage of it to overturn more than a dozen Obama-era rules. Kent advises it should be used here again, and then "pull up the ladder" to abolish it.

"The sands are moving through the hourglass here," he says, referencing the upcoming CRA deadline before offering some bewildering news: "So far, there have not been any Congressional  Review Act resolutions introduced at all. I am a little surprised that no Democrat has introduced a disapproval resolution."

He predicts "we'll probably see some in the next few weeks, but the pace has definitely been slow." What could possibly explain the hold up? We discuss.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with some more news about rollbacks to Trump-era rollbacks, specifically, in this case, at the Dept. of Interior. That good news, as usual in the GNR, is balanced by some decidedly less good news --- on another bankrupt coal company hoping to pass its toxic mess on to the tax-payers, and a sleazy (and so far, successful) effort by the natural gas industry to block any and all changes to city building codes, meant to combat climate change, around the nation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: National Security blogger Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: SCOTUS rejects GOP challenge to PA's 2020 election results; GA Repubs move new vote suppression measures forward...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2021 6:45pm PT  

By a number of happily surprising measures, the confirmation of Joe Biden's Attorney General nominee is going very well. Perhaps even better than expected, according to our guest on today's BradCast.  And, best yet, it may even result in some serious consequences for our former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today...The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday finally dismissed a bunch of silly and/or meritless MAGA challenges to the 2020 Presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona. But the case out of Pennsylvania, in which dissents [PDF] to its dismissal were offered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch, warrants notice. The case argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in ordering [PDF] a three-day extension for the arrival of mail-in ballots, prior to the November 2020 election, violated the U.S. Constitution. The PA Supremes found that, given the pandemic and slow-downs in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the state's deadline for ballots to arrive by the close of polls at 8pm on Election Night violated their own state constitution's mandate for fair elections. The Republican challenge to their ruling charged that the state high court was in violation of a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause allowing "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" for federal office "shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof".

That, their argument goes, means that only state legislatures may set any provision whatsoever pertaining to elections. Any such procedure set by a Secretary of State or Governor or even a state Supreme Court is therefore unconstitutional on the federal level. Or so the GOP is now claiming. It is, for several reasons, a ridiculous argument. But it is one that has been given new life in the Trump Era as desperate Republicans took their cue from the former President to come up with any reason whatsoever to nullify election results they didn't like.  There are now at least three, arguably four, Justices on our stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court who appear to buy into the radical argument. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed on Monday on the grounds that the matter was moot. (There were about 10,000 late arriving ballots in PA last November, and Biden won the state by about 80,000 votes.) But, without an election hanging in the balance, the dissenters noted that this case would have been an ideal moment to settle this matter. Oddly enough, I actually agree on that last point with Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, and we discuss why on today's show.

That, as GOP-controlled legislatures around the country continue to move forward with new voter suppression schemes following their loss on the Presidential level in 2020. Today for example, Georgia's Republican-majority Senate approved a measure that would require a copy of a Photo ID to even request a mail-in ballot. And that's just the start of what the state's wingnut legislature is now up to, after having recently lost the Presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State.

All of which underscores again the critical need for Congress to pass HR-1, the "For the People Act," which would go a long way toward blocking the new GOP attacks on the right to vote. To do that, of course, Democrats in the Senate will need to end the filibuster. And to do that, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to come to understand how they are allowing these overt attacks on democracy itself to worsen at the state level, as they protect the undemocratic Jim Crow-era filibuster.

Then, we're joined by longtime national security and accountability blogger MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, who has now moved to Ireland for reasons that she explains on today's program. The real reason we wanted to catch up with her, however, is to discuss the ongoing confirmation process for Biden's AG-designate Merrick Garland --- who completed his GOP-stalled second day of testimony in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and to discuss Monday's unanimous ruling by SCOTUS that Trump's financial documents must now be handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., for his criminal probe into alleged tax, bank and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization, as well as the unlawful conspiracy he directed involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Is Trump soon to face very real accountability that could actually include jail time? Whether it's in the New York state case, another criminal investigation into his election interference in Georgia, or even under AG Garland's promised federal response to the conspiracy to take over the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?

Wheeler has lots of thoughts on all of the above on today's BradCast --- and you probably won't be angry about (most of) them. I'll share just one of them for now here, regarding those charged for conspiracy for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol: "All of these defendants, one after another, saying 'I was just swept up by the inflammatory language of the then-President. That may be true, but it doesn't get them off for the crime. But if one after another are saying 'Trump made me do it,' then at some point you've got to respond to that."

Now may be a good time to brush up on the legal meaning of the phrase "seditious conspiracy."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, on the continuing fall out from the Texas power and water failure over the past week, the fossil fuel-funded GOPers who lied about it, and the not-a-moment-too-soon official U.S. return to the Paris Climate Agreement...

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Guest: Ari Berman of Mother Jones; Also: TX Repubs step on the gas to blame green energy for their own fossil fueled freeze failure; Radio propagandist Rush Limbaugh is dead, but his national poison lives on...
By Brad Friedman on 2/17/2021 6:50pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Talk radio con-man Rush Limbaugh may now be dead, but his toxic legacy lives on in virtually every element of the nation's poisoned body politic. The consequences are all too apparent even today amid the deadly winter storm that has knocked out power across Texas and the avalanche of new voter suppression laws being pushed by Republicans following their loss of the White House in 2020. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up today, after three decades of brainwashing a generation of Americans by dominating the nation's public airwaves with far-right, racist, misogynistic, extremist propaganda and lies, Limbaugh is dead from lung cancer at the age of 70.  Using his considerable broadcasting skills to pump dishonest evil into the brains of gullible listeners, he endangered the nation and the planet itself by scamming an entire segment of the populace to the theoretical benefit of the Republican Party that he may have helped to ultimately destroy. I've got a few thoughts on that today.

Next, the influence of Limbaugh reverberates throughout the crisis facing millions of Texans  who are, right now, continuing to face freezing conditions without power (and water in some cases) for days, thanks to the 1999 deregulation of the power grid in Texas by GOP lawmakers who put corporate profit above the general welfare of their own residents. Rather than accept personal responsibility for their failures, Texas Republicans and the propagandists who support them on outlets like Fox "News", have been going full throttle over the past two days to somehow (falsely) blame the state's nascent wind energy industry for the widespread outages. That, even though wind supplies, at most, about 20 percent of the Lone Star State's energy needs, while thermal sources, like natural gas, coal and nuclear --- which all failed due to lack of winterization (thanks to lack of state regulation) --- were, by far, the biggest source of failure.

But don't tell that to Ditto-Heads like the now-former Mayor of Colorado City, TX, Tim Boyd, who railed at his own constituents seeking help without heat or water for days. "No one owes you or your [sic] family anything; nor is it the local governments [sic] responsibility to support you during trying times like this! Sink or swim, it’s your choice!,"  he raged on Facebook in response to members of the community wondering if warming shelters would be opened or how firefighters could respond with the town's water system shut down. "This is sadly a product of a socialist government where they feed people to believe that the FEW work and others will become dependent for handouts," the Mayor said in words that would have been music to Limbaugh's deaf ears. "Bottom line, quit crying and looking for a handout! Get off your ass and take care of your own family!"

Of course, even the state's Republican Governor Greg Abbott appeared to admit on Twitter on Monday that the problem was "natural gas and coal generators" that had been "frozen", before somehow going on to blame the non-existent Green New Deal for Texas' woes by the time he appeared on the show of Limbaugh's fellow propagandist Sean Hannity on Fox "News" Tuesday night.

So, how and when can these corrupt, corporate-socialists finally be voted out of office? It may not be easy given that, as NYU's Brennan Center for Justice recently reported [emphasis iin original]: "In a backlash to historic voter turnout in the 2020 general election, and grounded in a rash of baseless and racist allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities, legislators have introduced well over four times the number of bills to restrict voting access as compared to roughly this time last year. Thirty-three states have introduced, prefiled, or carried over 165 restrictive bills this year (as compared to 35 such bills in fifteen states on February 3, 2020)."

We're joined today by Mother Jones' senior reporter and voting rights journalist ARI BERMAN, author of the landmark 2016 book, Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America, to discuss what he characterizes as "an avalanche of new laws" amounting to "the most concerted attempts to roll back voting rights since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965."

Berman explains the new flood of bills by GOP lawmakers to make voting more difficult --- for certain voters --- in battleground states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and many others, where measures are being pushed to end no-excuse absentee voting and automatic voter registration, among other previously established rights. In Arizona, more than 40 such schemes have been proposed by Republicans, including one that Berman says would "allow the legislature to just nullify the will of the voters and appoint their own Presidential electors anytime they want. It basically would make the Presidential election completely irrelevant, in terms of what the voters actually voted for."

These efforts all come in the wake of Donald Trump's evidence-free claims of "massive voter fraud" in the 2020 election. In many instances, says Berman, GOP state legislators are even attempting to reverse expansions to the franchise that they themselves had recently adopted and boasted about at the time. "The Republican Party is now trying to weaponize those bogus fraud claims, to lay the groundwork for getting rid of the system that they wrote, instituted and took advantage of, until it didn't benefit them anymore," he tells me.

We also discuss how a number of these new restrictions may be unstoppable at the state level and would require Democratic efforts at the federal level --- such as H.R.1 (the "For the People Act") and H.R.4 (the "John Lewis Voting Rights Act") --- in order to prevent them from suppressing the vote in both 2022 and 2024. Of course, to pass those federal laws, Democrats in the U.S. Senate will almost certainly have to do away with the undemocratic filibuster, since Berman suggests it's inconceivable that 10 Senate Republicans would join the effort to ensure equal and fair voting rights to all Americans.

So, yes, we also discuss what might be needed to overcome Democratic objections to ending the "Jim Crow relic" filibuster by Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, both of whom have vowed to keep it in place. "This is a big fight brewing," Berman argues, along with a few suggestions as to how this could play out. "But right now we're seeing an existential threat to democracy and also a very real threat to the power of the Democratic Party.  At some point, they're going to have to choose."

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On a new wave of GOP voter suppression laws; Trump's second Impeachment, emoluments, and pardons...
By Desi Doyen on 1/29/2021 6:30pm PT  
NOW CELEBRATING THE BRAD BLOG'S 17th ANNIVERSARY!
WE WELCOME YOUR ANNIVERSARY SUPPORT/DONATIONS HERE!

We're off today, but we've got a BradCast 'RECOUNTED' for your listening pleasure, with two excellent interviews from the past week that you may have missed --- or just need to hear again. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

  • Then it's Brad's conversation on 1/27/2021 with Constitutional law and impeachment expert RON FEIN, Legal Director of the non-partisan government accountability group Free Speech for People, and co-author of the 2018 book, The Constitution Demands It: The Case for the Impeachment of Donald Trump. Fein delves into why the second Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump is both constitutional and crucial to ensuring accountability, not just for the 'seditious' former President but for all future Presidents.  Fein also dismantles Senate Republicans' false and disingenuous attempts to circumvent the Impeachment trial; what happens now that the GOP's stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court dismissed two cases regarding Trump's alleged violation of the Constitution's Emoluments Clause; and the not-inconsequential question of secret self-pardons....

We'll be back LIVE soon!

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President of the United States holds trillions of dollars in emergency relief hostage to prevent Democrats from safely casting ballots in November...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2020 6:37pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Well, at least he's saying it out loud now. [Audio link to show follows below.]

The President of the United States is rejecting the plea --- from his own personally-appointed, Republican-majority, Postal Board of Governors for $25 billion to save the U.S Postal Service from collapse and a $3.5 billion request from the nation's bi-partisan elections officials to help harden election infrastructure for security purposes and to accommodate a huge Presidential election in the middle of a deadly global pandemic --- because he is trying to steal the election. While he doesn't use the words "steal the election", he and his administration are now making very clear they are trying to do just that. And, of course, ham-fistedly lying about it at the same time by claiming that Democrats, somehow, are hoping to "rig" the election.

The Trump/GOP megadonor, Louis DeJoy, just appointed as Trump's Postmaster General in June, has been busy issuing directives to slow down mail delivery, despite the explosion in Vote-by-Mail expected during this November's election, as necessitated by Trump's own failed coronavirus response. This week we have also learned that DeJoy has removed or reassigned some 23 top USPS officials who manage mail delivery and that 19 huge postal sorting machines, which process some 35,000 pieces of mail an hour, have now been removed or are scheduled to be removed from at least 19 different mail distribution sites across the country. That was confirmed by Motherboard today after initially being reported on NPR by the President of the Iowa Postal Worker's Union.

It is happening in plain sight. On Wednesday at his White House presser, and again on Thursday, Trump conceded that if he doesn't agree to a new COVID-19 emergency relief bill to help the nearly 30 million now-unemployed Americans; cash-strapped states and cities; hospitals; schools; and, yes, elections officials and the U.S. Post Office itself, he believes he will stop voters from successfully casting a ballot through the mail this November.

That works great for him, because he's hoaxed his own GOP supporters into believing absentee voting is fraudulent (except in Florida, where he, himself, does it ILLEGALLY) or unnecessary, because the virus is "disappearing, like a miracle." Many duped Republicans will now needlessly risk infection and death to vote for him at the polling place on Election Day, while huge numbers of NOT-disinformed Democrats are expected to use Vote-by-Mail to avoid potential death from voting in-person. Trump will then declare himself the winner on Election Night, with more Republican votes quickly counted from in-person voting, before declaring the slower-to-tally absentee ballots (which need to be manually authenticated one-by-one before they can be run through computer tabulators --- if they even arrive on time to be counted after the USPS slowdowns) as "fraudulent". Attempts to count all lawfully cast ballots after Election Day will then be characterized as an attempt by Democrats to steal the election. That's the plan. It's simple, evil, anti-American, and its happening right before your eyes.

Even one of Trump's top White House economic advisers admitted on CNBC today that "we don't want to have voting rights." That, said Larry Kudlow, out loud, about the effort by Democrats to include election and USPS funding in their emergency relief proposal is "not our game and the President can't accept that kind of deal."

Voting rights advocates, supporters of democracy, and Democrats in Congress are hopping mad, as they should be. So is one of the nation's largest veterans groups. But, of course, Trump knows that, as a failed President, if he doesn't rig the election to steal it he is very likely to lose it. So, yes, he is attempting to steal a Presidential election right before our eyes.

We break down ALL of that down --- in much more detail --- on today's show, along with at least one bit of good news on elections today coming from the U.S. Supreme Court, of all places, if you can believe it.

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen (whose name keeps popping up in the strangest places these days) and our latest Green News Report with a review of presumptive Democratic Veep candidate Kamala Harris' record on environmental justice; the Trump EPA's rollback of Obama-era methane pollution rules at the request of the oil and gas industry; some very good news for the nation's migratory birds; and yet another fossil fuel disaster, this time in Pennsylvania...

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NY State Dems under fire for removing Sanders/Biden contest from ballot; Native American Tribes settle ND Photo ID voting lawsuit; Drano Don still swirling after dangerous disinfectant remark; Plus Callers and more!...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2020 6:33pm PT  

We've got good news and bad --- and a whole lot of facts to go with it --- on today's BradCast. And we even have some time to open the phones to listener calls today!. [Audio link to full show is at bottom of summary.]

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

  • Backlash is growing against COVID-19 financial relief measures adopted by Congress, signed by the President, and failing to help the Americans that they were supposedly designed to be help;
  • But, in what appeared (at least as of early this morning) to be much better news, Donald Trump had been planning to stop endangering public health with his appearances at White House coronavirus task force briefings. He did not appear at any briefings over the weekend and, as of Monday morning, on the heels of continuing blowback in response to his musings at last Thursday's briefing in which he discussed injecting people with disinfectant to "cure" coronavirus, his Press Secretary confirmed he would be reducing his role in those nightly briefings which, long ago, turned into Trump Campaign TV shows. A few hours later, however, the White House backtracked. Sure enough, by Monday evening, Trump was back at the podium. But we're still ignoring him. You're welcome.;
  • We can't, however, ignore everything he says, particularly when he continues to put out dangerous misinformation from that podium. Thankfully, we have more trustworthy news sources like....Saturday Night Live to correct him! Brad Pitt played Dr. Anthony Fauci on the show over the weekend, and we share it today because a) it was very funny and b) it helps correct a whole bunch of deadly BS that Trump has been misinforming the American public with. (So much so that even Republicans have been forced to come out and correct the President's dangerous misinformation on poisoning people to try and kill the coronavirus, after calls to emergency poison control hotlines spiked around the country following Trump's remarks.);
  • Shifting to elections news --- the only way we'll ultimately be able to turn the page from many of our ongoing nightmares --- some very good news out of North Dakota today. A settlement has been reached, according to the Campaign Legal Center, with two Native American tribes who sued the state over the GOP effort to prevent them from voting with a law that mandates a Photo ID voting restriction requiring IDs with residential street addresses. That, even though thousands of tribal members living on reservations in the state do not have residential addresses. The settlement, agreed to by the state in hopes of avoiding a trial, will (theoretically) ensure that all Native Americans voters will be able to do so without a problem in ND's upcoming June 9th primary and beyond. That good news also allowed us to report another related good news story from the 2018 election that we've being trying to cover for the past year and a half! It has to do with the three Republican members of the ND state legislature, incuding the House Majority Leader, whose seats were flipped from "red" to "blue" in the 2018 mid-terms in response to the GOP-majority's purposely-disenfranchising Photo ID measure. The best part: The guy who sponsored the 2013 law which took effect in 2018 for the first time, was ousted in the same election by Democrat Ruth Buffalo --- a Native American!;
  • With that good election news out of the way, we move on to New York for some much-less-than-good election news. On Monday, the Democrats on the State Board of Elections voted to cancel the June 23 Democratic Presidential Primary, even though Bernie Sanders, who has suspended his campaign and endorsed Joe Biden, has said he wishes to remain on the ballots for the 20 or so remaining primaries. Over the weekend, his campaign asked the NY Dems to NOT cancel the primary. While most NY voters, due to the coronavirus, will be allowed to vote via absentee ballot in the June 23 election (where there will still be other primaries and issues on the ballot), Democratic state officials said that removing the Presidential race from the ballot would lower turnout in hopes of making in-person voting safer.

    The Sanders Campaign is furious and calls the move a "blow to American democracy". Democratic NY Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also angry and called for the DNC --- which claims they did not call for the cancellation --- to override or reverse the decision, in some fashion. She notes that "Sen. Sanders explicitly stated that he intended on continuing to collect delegates in order to advance wage, healthcare, climate & other priorities into the platform at the convention," adding "unity isn't a feeling, it's a process. Undemocratic, unilateral decisions that disenfranchise millions of progressive voters & volunteers is extremely destructive to the process of unifying the party for Nov."

    The Sanders Campaign has now petitioned the NY State Board of Elections to keep his name on the ballot, with his attorney noting that the Vermont Senator "is concerned that his removal from the ballot would undermine efforts to unify the Democratic Party in advance of the general election." The vote today --- which neither Biden, nor the state Party, nor Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for --- comes despite the reasonable argument detailed last week at The BRAD BLOG by Ernie Canning, who explained why he believes the more votes Sanders receives in the remaining primaries, the more likely that presumptive nominee Biden will actually win this November!;

  • Also, speaking of elections, voting in Ohio's postponed-at-the-last-minute March 17th election will finally end as of tomorrow (April 28). Absentee ballots postmarked by Monday night will be counted if they arrive at County headquarters by May 8 or if voters deliver them to County Boards of Election by Tuesday night at 7:30pm. In-person voting will be available on Tuesday for disabled or homeless voters, though the state's Secretary of State has said that any voter who claims disability or that they are unable to receive mail will not be challenged and will be allowed to vote in person at County Boards of Elections on April 28;
  • Finally, we take some calls on any number of things discussed on today's show and even much that we didn't!...

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The so-called 'pro-life' party is now anything but...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2020 6:47pm PT  

We've been hearing a lot of references to the GOP as a "death cult" of late. And while it sounds, at first, like little more than a partisan smear by Democrats, it's not. Just ask this longtime Republican. The description actually seems to be more and more apt with each passing day, as today's BradCast helps to make all too clear. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of this summary.]

Among the many Death Cult GOP stories in evidence on today's program...

  • In March, a woman and mother of two in Texas took to Facebook to offer a rant on the global coronavirus pandemic as little more than a "media driven" hoax meant for "overthrowing Trump". She warned readers to "Wake up!!! This is what the beginning of socialism looks like," adding "You don't need hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and Lysol. You need common sense, a sense of direction, faith, a will to fight, and of course guns!" She died from COVID-19 just a few weeks later in April.
  • And just a few weeks after that, even as bodies continue to pile up in Texas, with it's coronavirus peak predicted to be still two weeks away, the state's Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on a Friday his plan to open the state back up for business. Among his plans for doing so: state parks will be opened on Monday and large venues such as restaurants and movie theaters could be re-opened as early as April 27.
  • Abbott's announcement follows a record 4,591 American deaths formally attributed to COVID-19 in a single 24 hour period, as the official death toll climbed above 33,000 as of Friday morning.
  • Even as the body count grows and Trump has backed off his claim of "total authority" to order Governors to end stay-at-home orders just a day earlier, leaving the decision to Governors instead, the President of the United States took to Twitter to seemingly call for violent overthrows of three states with Democratic Governors. "LIBERATE MINNESOTA," he tweeted. And later, "LIBERATE MICHIGAN". Followed by "LIBERATE VIRGINIA," adding "And save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!"
  • Yes. It's a death cult. But if you had any question about that, we review his EPA's latest rollback of environmental regulations, including today's which guts an Obama-era rule to curb the emissions of mercury and other toxins. It is just the latest rule overturned by the Trump Administration, following his recent reversal of vehicle mileage standards and the toxic emissions that would have been curbed with them and this week's decision to ignore the EPA's own scientists calling for the tightening of National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate pollution (soot) which might help lessen some 50,000 deaths per year. Each of those regulations save tens of thousands of American lives annually. But they are now quickly being overturned one after the next to not only help a few of his corporate campaign contributors, but also to avoid the Congressional Review Act which allows Congress to reverse regulations passed in the final six months of a President's term with a simple majority vote.
  • Not enough GOP Death Cultism for ya? Then we turn to elections once again, where Republicans continue to draw the battle-lines for 2020 with new efforts to force voters to choose between risking their lives to vote in person during a pandemic or losing their right to vote altogether. That, versus attempts by Democrats to make voting easier and safer for all. Yesterday we highlighted the fight in Texas where its Republican Attorney General has threatened criminal prosecution against those who advise voters to seek absentee ballots for fear of the coronavirus. Today's example comes out of Kentucky, where the GOP legislature has voted to override the veto of Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in order to force the enactment of disenfranchising Photo ID voting restrictions this November. Good luck to Kentucky voters who lack an ID in getting one. All of the state's driver's license offices are closed across the state due to the COVID crisis. Darn the luck, am I right GOPers? No worries, with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell on the ballot this year, locked in a potentially close fight with his likely challenger Amy McGrath, I'm sure everything will work out just fine.
  • And, yes, if all of this idiotic death and mayhem sounds like a terrible movie that couldn't get greenlighted in Hollywood, it's because it is...

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More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Jobless claims skyrocket amid coronavirus pandemic...
By Brad Friedman on 3/26/2020 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast: With the frantic, if justifiable, move towards Vote-by-Mail in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, one shouldn't underestimate the GOP scheming going on right now to figure out how to make sure that their efforts at vote suppression can continue none the less. [Audio link to show follows below.]

That's especially true since broad Vote-by-Mail programs are likely to increase Democratic "turnout" in many, if not most jurisdictions. (That, even as many Democrats, for their part, are underestimating the amount of fraud that can happen with broad Vote-by-Mail programs if safeguards are not carefully instituted. Such precautions are easy, given the rushed deadlines and lack of needed funding and manpower in most jurisdictions right now.)

Our elections this year are most definitely in peril. Even as many states have now rescheduled primaries, optimistically, until June 2nd. Georgia has rescheduled its primaries for May 19 (the date which was originally scheduled to hold Kentucky's primary as well, though they have smartly pushed theirs further down the road).

Perhaps most troubling of all at the moment, Wisconsin will hold primaries and a state Supreme Court election on April 7! That just over a week and a half from today, despite the Governor having shut down all non-essential businesses and ordering residents to stay-at-home through at least April 24! Election officials in several Badger State jurisdictions are complaining they will be unable to find enough pollworkers (resulting in much longer --- and dangerous --- lines); at least one major city is suing, declaring it "functionally impossible" to carry out the election while allowing voters and pollworkers to maintain necessary social distancing; and the County Clerk in for the state's capital (in one of the most Dem-leaning counties in the state) is seeing voters threatened with legal challenges if they follow his advice to declare themselves "indefinitely confined" in order to request an absentee ballot online without uploading a Photo ID, which many seniors are finding difficulty to do.

Nonetheless, the state's Democratic Governor is allowing the April 7 elections to move forward, and the Republicans in the state legislator --- who would be needed to take action in order to postpone it or change it to an all-VBM election --- are applauding the Governor. Now why would they do that?

In Georgia, meanwhile, don't be fooled by the Republican Sec. of State's lofty, high-minded explanation for mailing an absentee application to every "active" voter in the state. While that might otherwise be a very good thing, what about all of those voters who are still registered and eligible to vote this year, even if they have been marked "inactive" by the same Secretary of State?

None of this is particularly encouraging. Though neither is the fact that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits this past week, shattering the decades-old record of 695,000, with likely many more who were not able to file this past week because state websites and phone systems were overwhelmed, crashing and freezing up.

But, don't worry. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the quintupling of the all-time weekly unemployment record is "not relevant", thanks to the emergency stimulus bill passed by the Senate 96 to 0 on Wednesday night and now waiting for passage in the House, most likely on Friday. Of course, it's not only Mnuchin misleading Americans on behalf of the Trump Administration, the New York Times did a pretty good job of it as well recently.

All of which should serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting independent local journalism, with alt-weeklies dropping like flies (with no ad revenue to support them since restaurants, theaters, concerts, and other social gatherings are mostly shut down), even as their online readership is way up during the crisis, and local, non-commercial, listener-supported radio stations also having a similarly difficult time keeping their transmitters humming during this pandemic.

We discuss all of that and more today, before closing with Desi Doyen's latest Green News Report, which, along with some good and bad news on the stimulus bill and some bad news about the Trump Administration's continuing rollback of public safety regulations even during the crisis, actually includes some bona fide good news from a federal court regarding the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline...

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Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Coronavirus tanking markets, wingnuts lie about it; Buttigieg 'wins' Iowa!...
By Brad Friedman on 2/28/2020 6:34pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on world markets, we finally have a definitive "winner" of the Iowa Caucuses, and a raft of good news voting rights court rulings in several key battleground states! [Audio link to show follows below.]

We start with some "breaking news" today: Pete Buttigieg has won the Iowa Caucuses! Barely. And only as long as you consider the winner of the most delegates to be the "winner". Following both partial recanvassing and recounts requested by both the Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg campaigns in a number of precincts on the heels of the flawed reporting of Iowa Caucus results three weeks ago, the Iowa Democratic Party has finally concluded that Buttigieg won a literal fraction more of the State Delegate Equivalents (SDEs). Buttigieg took 562.954 to Sanders' 562.021.

While both candidates actually lost a small number of SDEs during the partial recounts, Buttigieg's margin of victory (0.003%) was increased to "a commanding 0.04% win" after the recounts. That translates into 14 national delegates for the former South Bend, Indiana Mayor to Sanders' 12 out of the Hawkeye State, where the Vermont Senator nonetheless won the never-really-in-question overall popular vote by several thousand more votes in both the initial and realignment rounds of voting at the state's February 3rd caucuses.

With that finally out of the way, we offer a quick update on the havoc the coronavirus --- and the Trump Administration's bungled response to it --- is causing for world markets, with the Dow plummeting for a 7th straight day on Friday, resulting in a 3,500 point drop over the past week. It was the worst week for Wall Street since the 2008 global financial crisis and the fastest loss of four months of gains for the S&P 500 since 1928. That, as the deadly virus continues to spread and fears mount that it will result in a global recession and full blown pandemic.

In the U.S. however, rightwingers like Rush Limbaugh are using our public airwaves to "inform" Americans that the virus "is the common cold" in one breath, and seemingly contradicting that by falsely describing it as "a ChiCom laboratory experiment...being weaponized" in the next. But, despite the fact that it could result in hundreds of thousands of deaths in the U.S. (the virus is currently 20 times more fatal than the flu, which killed approximately 34,000 Americans last season), Limbaugh is using our public airwaves to propagandize listeners that Bernie Sanders and the "Democrat Party...pose a much greater threat to this country than the coronavirus does."

So, yes, we continue to keep our eyes on the most important election in the nation's history in hopes of curbing at least some of this madness. To that end, as South Carolina prepares to vote on new, !00% unverifiable, germy touchscreen voting systems across the state in their Democratic primary on Saturday, and voters in many of the 14 state primaries ending on Super Tuesday three days later do the same, we focus on a number of recent encouraging court rulings that will help protect their right to cast a vote at all.

For that, we are blessed on today's BradCast with the long-overdue return of the great Slate legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN! And we've got a lot to catch up with him on, from just over the past few weeks, when it comes to both state and federal courts stepping in to do the right thing in protecting voter's rights --- at least for now.

  • Recently, both a federal district court and a state Court of Appeals in North Carolina blocked the Tar Heel State GOP's new Photo ID voting restriction, finding it (once again) was designed to disproportionately target minorities for suppression.
  • In Florida, a federal Court of Appeals has blocked the Republican state legislature and Governor's attempt to gut 2018's landmark state constitutional Amendment 4, granting the right to vote to former felons who have completed their sentences.
  • In Missouri, the state's Supreme Court not only blocked a "Catch-22" Photo ID voting restriction that required those without very specific types of Photo IDs to actually commit a felony by lying on an affidavit form in order to legally cast a vote, the Court also carved out a right to vote for many trans and non-binary voters who, in MO, thanks to more bad laws, are literally barred from obtaining the requisite ID that would be needed for them to vote legally under the statute that the court has now struck down. (That, after more than a decade of GOP attempts in the Show-Me State to try and institute Photo ID voting restrictions, no matter who it would prevent from casting a legal vote.)
  • In Arizona, with its own long history of racial discrimination, a federal Court of Appeals struck down two measures adopted by state Republicans, finding both of them to have been racially motivated attempts to suppress nonwhite voters. One had mandated that provisional ballots be discarded if they were cast in a different precinct from where the voters was supposed to be voting, the other outlawed the third-party collection of absentee ballots (which Fox "News" and, therefore, all Republicans falsely denigrated as "ballot harvesting" by "illegal immigrants".)

Many of these very good news court rulings, however, could still be reversed during additional appeals, thanks to the Republican court-packing in recent years, particularly if the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court decides to pick and choose which decisions they will and won't apply their so-called "Purcell Principle" to, with elections imminent in all of those states.

And, we also discuss a Trump judge's recent move to prevent voters from being able to sue for their rights at all under the Voting Rights Act. So, yes, MUCH to catch up on today with Stern, who explains all of these cases and where they go from here, in his usual, clear, informative and even amusing way!

Finally, a quick program announcement after a listener comment on voter registration concerns: We will be LIVE and taking your calls both Monday and Tuesday next week, opening up the phone lines to hear from voters and early voters about any problems they may have encountered, and to answer any questions listeners may have about voting and voting systems before the Super Tuesday election polls close next week! If you don't get The BradCast LIVE where you are, please remember to tune in to the live stream at KPFK.org on Monday and Tuesday next week at 3pm PT/6p ET and give us a shout!...

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Guest: David Dayen of American Prospect; Also: Good voting rights news in FL and NC; Warren joins Sanders in being erased by corporate media...
By Brad Friedman on 2/19/2020 5:50pm PT  

In the hours just before former Republican and current billionaire Michael Bloomberg makes his bought-and-paid-for debut on the Democratic debate stage in Las Vegas, our guest on today's BradCast has a bit of a disturbing scoop about Bloomberg's past comparisons between the AARP and the NRA! [Audio link to full show follows below.]

But, first up first up today, some good news from the courts on voting rights in two different key Presidential battleground states! In Florida, a federal appeals on Wednesday sided with ex-felons suing the state to block a law that prevented many of them from having their voting rights restored after the landslide passage of state constitutional Amendment 4 in 2018. After the landmark measure passed with big bi-partisan support to restore voting rights to some 1.5 million former felons (including 1 of 4 African-American men in the state) upon completion of their sentences, the state's new Republican Governor and GOP legislature muscled through legislation to block those former felons from voting until all court fees and fines have been paid off.

Today's federal appeals court ruling blocks that voter suppression measure, finding that "denying access to the franchise to those genuinely unable to pay solely on a account of wealth" is a violation of the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause.

There is similarly good news today from the state Court of Appeals in North Carolina, which ruled the Photo ID voting restrictions enacted by Republicans (a measure vetoed by the state's Democratic Governor last year, but overridden by the gerrymandered GOP majorities in both statehouse chambers) disproportionately disenfranchises poor and minority voters.

Despite little or no evidence of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud such laws could possibly prevent --- the NC GOP has been trying since at least 2013 to impose such discriminatory voting restrictions in the Tar Heel state. Their most notorious attempt, in 2013, was eventually nixed by a federal court which found the law was specifically designed to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision" and to "impose cures for problems that did not exist." Another similar ruling recently against the state's new measure by a federal court, blocked the law from taking effect before NC's March 3rd Primaries. The new state appeals court decision is likely to also bar the measure until after the 2020 general election in one of the nation's most closely divided battleground states.

Then, it's on to electoral politics, with still more new national polling today showing Bernie Sanders vaulting into double-digit leads over all of his Democratic Presidential rivals. And while Sanders is frequently dismissed by corporate media, even as the front-runner (as we demonstrate again today), an even more curious case of the erasure of Elizabeth Warren by corporate media has made itself maddeningly clear in a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll out this week.

We explain how Warren was disappeared, in part, from a key question in that poll, despite placing third in the national delegate race to date and largely tying for second or third place in most of the recent national surveys. That, while candidates like Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg continue to receive a great deal of media attention while still polling only in single digits nationally.

Meanwhile, having no trouble at all receiving national coverage of late, is former Republican, recently-declared Democrat, and longtime billionaire Michael Bloomberg. While Sanders has skyrocketed in polling, Joe Biden has taken a dive, and Bloomberg appears to be surging at his expense. That is thanks, in no small part, to the former NYC Mayor's unprecedented blanketing of the national airwaves with his political propaganda ads. With his late polling surges, Bloomberg will appear, for the first time, on the Democratic debate stage tonight in Las Vegas before this Saturday's Nevada Caucuses (where he isn't even on the ballot.)

We are joined today by investigative financial journalist, author and Executive Editor of The American Prospect, DAVID DAYEN, who has been covering Bloomberg's long and disturbing record quite closely. Earlier this week, Dayen detailed how Bloomberg's life and career mirrors Donald Trump's in a number of disturbing ways, while cautioning about the dangers to both democracy and the Democratic Party itself of the "plutocrat-on-plutocrat election" that would be in store if Bloomberg wins the nomination.

"This is a hostile take-over of the Democratic Party. Much like Trump was a hostile take-over of the Republican Party," Dayen argues today. "I'm worried about the shell-shocked nature of the Democratic electorate that has given up on democracy and thinks the only way to beat their plutocrat is with our plutocrat. That concerns me for more reasons than just the Bloomberg nomination. It concerns me that people are so despondent that they think democracy doesn't work anymore. That leads us down a very dark road."

Dayen also has a scoop today, as published with Alexander Sammon at The Prospect, on Bloomberg's recent history of comparing the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to the National Rifle Association (NRA), as part of his "decade-long history of promoting cuts to the social safety net" in his advocacy to slash Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as deficit reduction measures.

All of which raises serious questions about what the Democratic electorate must be thinking in their current, apparently growing support for Bloomberg to become the Party's standard-bearer in 2020. Dayen has many thoughts on that, as do I on today's program...

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Guest: Jim Williams of Public Policy Polling; Also: GOP Photo ID restriction blocked by Judge in NC; DoJ's criminal probe of Hillary Clinton and Clinton Foundation quietly finds...nothing...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2020 6:18pm PT  

On today's BradCast: There is one neat, simple trick that Democrats and opponents of Donald Trump can do to make sure that he is no more than a one-term President this November. But they may need to start thinking about it right now. JIM WILLIAMS, Issue Polling Specialist at Public Policy Polling, joins us to explain what that one thing is, as based on recent survey data collected by his firm in Arizona and Iowa. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Also today, a report by Washington Post reveals that the Department of Justice investigation of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation that Trump demanded after becoming President has yielded...nothing. No criminal charges or anything close to it will reportedly be brought after a review begun by Trump's former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in 2017, as assigned to Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber, quietly wrapped up months ago. Even the matter regarding Uranium One, a Canadian company in which a Russian firm was allowed to purchase a controlling stake, reveals no wrongdoing, no bribes paid to the Clinton Foundation while she served as Secretary of State. No nothing.

In short, between this probe and a recent report by the State Department's Inspector General finding, after a three-year probe, no criminal wrongdoing in Clinton's use of a private email server, it turns out that all of the nonsense that Trump exploited to lead "LOCK HER UP!" chants and his calls for throwing her in jail during his 2016 rallies (and beyond) was entirely B.S. Or, to put it another way, it was all a witch hunt hoax. Who knew? Oh, yeah, we told you as much long ago.

All of that, even as the disgraced, now-impeached President has seen his own "charitable" foundation ordered shut down by a New York Court, which found a "pattern of illegality" in is fraudulent operations, ordering Trump to pay millions in penalties, and as the Dept. of Justice investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election has resulted in 199 criminal counts against 37 people and entities, seven of whom have pleaded guilty (many of whom were top officials in the Trump Campaign and Trump Administration], with six (so far) sentenced to prison and as many as 10 counts of obstruction of justice by Trump himself.

The phony "LOCK HER UP!" campaign which arguably resulted in Trump's Presidency was not only made possible, but actually enabled --- shamefully --- by corporate mainstream media which legitimized what was otherwise clearly little more than a bogus, orchestrated hit campaign by Trump and his Rightwing media machine in 2016. We have a word or two to say about all of that on today's program, even as Trump is currently using the same playbook to falsely discredit Joe Biden (and, undoubtedly, whoever else may win the Democratic nomination this year.)

For some slightly more encouraging news today, we turn to North Carolina, where a federal judge has, once again, shut down the state Republican legislature's latest scheme to enact Photo ID voting restrictions in 2020, finding it an attempt at discriminatory voter suppression. The ruling comes after a different federal judge had found the state GOP's previous scheme to restrict voting (by certain voters) in the very closely divided swing-state to have been written specifically to "target African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

But with all of that, the Iowa Caucuses are just weeks away now, followed by the New Hampshire primary and many others shortly thereafter. And while polls suggest there is no clear front-runner for the nomination, did we mention PPP's Williams is here to explain what the firm's data show to be an almost certain way to defeat Donald Trump once and for all this November, no matter who Dems choose as their nominee?...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs suppressing the 2020 student vote, Dems push-back in TX; Katie Hill's final floor speech...
By Brad Friedman on 11/1/2019 6:31pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Progressive 2020 Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren finally releases her detailed proposal explaining how she plans to pay for "Medicare for All" with "not one penny in middle-class tax increases" and Democrats begin their push-back against a coordinated national GOP effort to curb surging turnout by young voters who, for some reason, tend to lean strongly Democratic when they are allowed to vote. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up, we're joined by longtime health care reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN of Politico to break down the pay-fors and the politics of Warren's newly introduced details on how she hopes to fund her $52 trillion single-payer Medical for All plan without raising taxes on the middle class. Warren, in a 9,300-word Medium post on Friday, explained that "Medicare for All is about the same price as our current path --- and cheaper over time." The difference with our current path and her plan, she says, is that her plan covers everyone and even includes new benefits for dental, vision and long-term care, without spending more money than Americans pay overall right now for care that is twice as expensive as the rest of the developed world, but with worse outcomes.

Where fellow progressive Bernie Sanders has emphasized that middle class taxes would necessary increase under his version of Medicare for All while overall costs to Americans would be lower (thanks to no more monthly premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.), and where more centrist 2020 Dems like Joe Biden, Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris have argued that it would be impossible to find the trillions needed for such universal single-payer plans, Warren laid out her proposal for covering everyone with better care, doctors of their choice, and no increases in taxes on the middle class. The burden as she describes will fall largely on corporations and the top 1% of taxpayers.

"It's interesting that there's been so much focus and pressure on her to produce a plan to pay for a plan that she didn't write --- it's Bernie's plan. But she has embraced it, and since she has made her personal brand being the woman with a plan for everything, it makes sense why she was pressed on this, and why she felt that she had to put something serious out there," Ollstein tells me.

Warren's plan, as Ollstein reports, even offers incentives for business to unionize in order to save money for both workers and companies, while companies are required to pay no more for health care than they already do. Effectively, argues Ollstein, Warren's expansive proposal is effectively "trying to flip the tables" back on her opponents to demonstrate how either she is wrong about her plan, or how their own plans might offer better coverage to all for less money.

Her Democratic competition, however, are not the only ones currently gunning for both her as she continues to rise in the polls, and the others seeking to improve our woeful health care system. "The medical providers have been mobilizing all year long, not just against Medicare For All but for all of the more incremental reforms, as well. They do not want to take a haircut on any of this. And this would be far more than a haircut. This would be a very deep cut."

The debate over Warren's extraordinary ambitious proposal, however, and those of other Democratic candidates, will continue for some time, even if one of them is elected. "What ends up getting actually debated and passed will not look like what we're talking about now," Ollstein predicts. "How close it looks like to what we're talking about will depend on who turns out to vote in 2020, and who sits in those seats in the House and Senate. Because, man, elections matter."

Yes, they do. And Republicans know it. And the GOP effort to prevent Warren or any other Dem who wants to improve health care for Americans from taking ofice is already well under way in a number of battleground states, including Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Florida, North Carolina and Texas, where Republican lawmakers have been instituting particularly insidious measures to make it much harder for young voters, in particular, to cast a vote at all next year. We detail some of those anti-democratic and anti-Democratic measures today, along with some of the first of the push-back from Dems, who filed suit this week against a recently adopted Texas law that effectively shuts down voting all together on many college campuses. That, as voters in Texas and a number of other states, including Virginia, head to the polls for important elections this coming Tuesday.

In related breaking news as well today, Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O'Rourke of Texas announced that he would be dropping out of the Presidential nominating contest.

Finally, freshman Democratic Congresswoman Katie Hill of California offered her final U.S. House floor speech on Thursday, following the vote on rules for the process of impeachment of Donald J. Trump. Her remarks come after announcing her abrupt and surprise resignation last weekend in the wake of an ugly divorce battle, an ethics investigation regarding an affair with a staffer (which she denies), and nude photos of her being published by rightwing websites. She suggests those photos were given to her opponents by her "abusive" husband. In her fiery final floor remarks, Hill excoriates what she describes as a double-standard for women who are victimized by revenge porn, even as men who are credibly accused of sexual assault and violence, like the President of the United States (and two U.S. Supreme Court Justices) remain happily in office...

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Guest: 'Atomic Analyst' Stephen Schwartz on the still-unfolding nuclear weapons test disaster in Russia; Also: Stacey Abrams announces Fair Fight 2020 to help Dems protect voters in next year's crucial elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2019 6:25pm PT  

No, 'Skyfall' is not the nickname for the 800 point plummet in the Dow Jones Industrial average on Wednesday in response to signals of an imminent recession not seen since 2007. In the context of today's BradCast, it's the nickname given by NATO to an experimental Russian nuclear-propelled cruise missile project that appears to have gone horribly --- and tragically --- awry a few days ago. The consequences of yet another secretive nuclear accident in Russia have left western nuclear weapons analysts guessing as to what is now actually going on near the disaster site in northern Russia. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But, before we get to that story today, a few quick news items of note regarding the 2020 election. Popular Georgia Democrat, Stacey Abrams, has announced the launch of a new project called Fair Fight 2020 to focus on election protection in about 20 swing-states and several (Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi) with gubernatorial elections next year. The effort comes out of Abrams own experience fighting massive voter suppression in her gubernatorial contest last year against Republican Brian Kemp who, as Georgia's Sec. of State, purged roles and helped suppressed minority voters across the state while overseeing his own reported narrow "victory" on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems.

Abrams, who would have become the nation's first African-American female Governor, has also been seen as a potential 2020 candidate for President. She has announced her plan to roll out this new, much-needed initiative to help Dems prepare well in advance (for a change) before next year's elections, in hopes of combating the many, inevitable anti-voter tactics expected by Republicans. The project comes in lieu of running for President or Senator in the Peach State, where she would have a very good chance of unseating Republican Sen. David Perdue next year.

While a Senate run would have been welcomed by many (she has said she is still open to a Veep nod), her Fair Fight 2020 effort is both very important and very much needed to help Dems win back both the White House and possibly U.S. Senate next year. We contrast her effort on today's show with that of California billionaire Tom Steyer, who recently-announced his own, likely-pointless run for the Democratic nod. Steyer has vowed to spend $100 million on his own campaign, instead of using that money to help Democrats --- for example, the nearly 1 million voters who are currently being blocked by Republicans from even being allowed to register to vote in the key battle-ground state of Florida.

Then, we are joined by STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, longtime nuclear weapons policy analyst and former Executive Director and Publisher of The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (the folks who bring us the infamous Doomsday Clock), where he now serves as a Senior Fellow. He's here to help us unravel the disturbing nuclear mystery that is currently unfolding in northern Russia.

Last Thursday, an explosion on a Russian missile testing platform in the White Sea resulted in the deaths of at least seven people, including five nuclear scientists. After several days of conflicting information about the incident, Russia finally conceded that an incident with a "nuclear isotope power source" had released radiation during an off-shore test. A town nearby saw a spike in radioactivity at least 16 times its expected normal background radiation and the hospital rooms where the injured were taken were sealed off after patients and the doctors who treated them were mysteriously transported to Moscow for observation.

The accident, as Schwartz details, is believed to have been part of the experimental nuclear-powered missile program that Russian President Vladimir Putin described last year in remarks to Parliament as a cruise missile that is propelled by a small nuclear reactor, allowing it to fly indefinitely on a path too unpredictable to be intercepted by defensive missile systems. The Russians call the project Buresvestnik. NATO has dubbed it Skyfall.

Schwartz cites the lack of information and conflicting details being made available by Russia as a relic of the secrecy mindset of the old Soviet Union. "Old habits die hard," he tells me. "The Soviet Union is gone, Russia remains. But this reaction is quite reminiscent, not just of Chernobyl, but also of the sinking of the Kursk ballistic missile submarine in August of 2000" as well as other nuclear accidents going back to the 1950s Cold War era. "Their first approach is admit only what you have to, to try to make the situation seem not so terrible. And then when you can't do that, you admit as much as you have to, in order to try to deal with whatever the concerns are."

While western analysts like Schwartz have been pouring over local media reports and grainy satellite photos to learn what may have happened and what the ongoing fallout appears to be, Donald Trump tweeted out a reaction in which he described the incident as "Not good!" and claimed that "we have similar, though more advanced, technology". That is either a lie, something that Trump misunderstood, or a program that is so highly classified it remains currently unknown outside of the U.S. government, Schwartz explains, citing a long-shelved Cold War project called "SLAM --- for Supersonic Low Altitude Missile --- that would have been powered by a reactor that had the code name of Pluto". That, he says, was a "dangerous weapon" believed to have been abandoned as of 1964, given the danger of "spewing highly radioactive exhaust everywhere it goes" as it would fly over allied nations on its way to the Soviet Union, among other concerns.

We also discuss why both Putin and Trump appear to be entering into a new nuclear arms race as Russia responds to U.S. missile defense systems being deployed to nations which border Russia. Why would Russia even want to produce such a weapon that amounts to a "flying reactor"? "We've made a lot of claims about our system," Schwartz says. "Most of them are not true. But the Russians have an undying faith in American technology and a fair degree of paranoia about what we're going to do with it. And they've decided that they need to find a way to counter it. Their fear, their paranoia, their desire to make sure that we cannot destroy them as a country has led them to the point where they're testing this exceedingly dangerous weapon."

That effort, he explains today, has now become a disaster with very serious consequences that we are only beginning to learn about as the world's latest nuclear tragedy continues to unfold....

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