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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 5, 2020
U.S. ECONOMY CRATERING; Judge Allows WI Election to Proceed: 'BradCast' 4/2/20
Staggering unemployment numbers; McConnell tells Pelosi to 'stand down' on new relief bill; WI set to hold deadly vote on Tuesday...
'Green News Report' 4/2/20
  w/ Brad & Desi
Critical UN climate conf. cancelled; Coal co. seeks to dump retired miner obligations; States criminalize pipeline protests; PLUS: Nat'l parks to stay open after workers test positive...
Previous GNRs: 3/31/20 - 3/26/20 - Archives...
Election Disaster Under Way in WI; Employer Health Plans Likely Worsened Pandemic: 'BradCast' 4/1/20
Guest: Former ins. exec Richard 'RJ' Eskow; Also: Depth of crisis emerging despite denial...
Media Industry Confronting 'Full Extinction Event': 'BradCast' 3/31/20
Guest: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
'Green News Report' 3/31/20
Trump kills Obama's mileage standards; EPA stops pollution enforcement during COVID-19 crisis; Big Plastic sees profit in pandemic; PLUS: Earth Day 2020 looms...
OH's New Primary Scheme Shows How to NOT Handle This Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/30/20
Also: Good news and bad on COVID-19; Trump says the quiet part about voter suppression out loud; and more calls from the Coronaverse...
Sunday 'Worse Than the Problem' Toons
We're open for business! Come on in and binge read PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons!...
Free Medicine in the Corona Zone:
'BradCast' 3/27/20
Guest host Nicole Sandler with insurance whistleblower Wendell Potter; Also: Some VERY much needed laughs!...
WI, GA Still Suppressing Votes, Even During COVID-19 Crisis: 'BradCast' 3/26/20
More states postpone primaries; WI refuses to delay April 7 vote; GA SoS up to old tricks; Historic jobless claims amid pandemic...
'Green News Report' 3/26/20
Good news and bad for energy in stimulus bill; Even COVID-19 can't stop EPA rollbacks; PLUS: Court win for Standing Rock Sioux over Dakota Access Pipeline...
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: Buzzfeed News Media Editor Craig Silverman; Also: Grim virus numbers, tragically failed Presidency, faint but clear signs of hope...
By Brad Friedman on 3/31/2020 6:52pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the news remains largely grim --- we'd expect no less during a global pandemic --- but there continue to be signs of light, way, way...way down at the end of the tunnel. For many in the journalism industry, however, the tunnel may be far too long and dark to make it out to the other side. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, thanks to an entirely dysfunctional, entirely failed Presidential Administration, things that should already be getting better --- the easy stuff, like testing, personal protective equipment and ventilator shortages --- shamefully, do not appear to be getting better in many parts of the country. The death toll in the U.S. has now officially surpassed both China's and our own on 9/11.

But we see more and more signs each day that at least physical distancing appears to be working as hoped --- slowly, but with unmistakable progress in locations where it is being dutifully practiced. But there remains a long way to go, and a dark tunnel to get through until we see that full light.

With nobody on the federal level leading the way, states and cities continue to do so as best as they can. But it is difficult if not impossible for them, or the news media, to know what to even expect on a macro level as the economy heads into completely unknown territory. According to at least one new economic analysis from the St. Louis Fed, unemployment rates could end up dwarfing even the highest levels of the Great Depression, much less the Great Recession.

And with that cheery news, we're joined today by longtime media industry expert CRAIG SILVERMAN, BuzzFeed News' Media Editor, to discuss the troubling outlook for independent local media as well corporate media amid the coronavirus pandemic. The industry is one of the first to feel the brunt of a nearly national shutdown. Ironically enough, the readership for many news outlets has "skyrocketed across the board" online, he says. "People are hungry for the latest quality information about what's going on with the coronavirus, and they're going to news organizations to get that information."

At the same time, however, ad revenue has collapsed and the same outlets across the country (and world) seeing a spike in readership are being forced to shut down the print sides of their publications, lay off journalists, and otherwise scale back reporting at a time that good local journalism is needed more than ever.

A number of alt-weeklies have already gone under, as their ad revenue is based almost entirely on industries like restaurants, bars, movie theaters, concerts and live events that have all been forced to shut down. "The alternative weeklies are kind of canaries in the coal mine. A lot of alt-weeklies have already gone out of business in Canada and the United States," Silverman warns. "A lot of the very small newspapers, especially that are part of chains, or had debt, they may not be able to come back."

"Now, we've got some of the biggest newspaper chains in the US, like Gannett [publisher of USA Today and more than a dozen other major papers], yesterday they announced they're doing unpaid newsroom furloughs for one week a month. Los Angeles Times is significantly cutting back on its print sections Monday to Friday. Other newspapers are getting rid of print editions," he tells me.

Silverman explains what one journalism industry analyst is describing as a "full extinction event" for many outlets, and the millions of dollars in lost revenue for some of the largest ones, thanks to a bizarre ad blocking scheme that some major brands are instituting on coronavirus related news stories.

We also discuss what you, dear readers and listeners, can do to help. "This is the moment for you to pay for the media that you care about," he says. "It's about people deciding for themselves what media they want to support. It may not be a big national outlet. If you have money right now --- and that is a big 'if', a lot of people are struggling --- but if you have money and you can afford maybe $5, $10, $15 a month, this is the time to stand up and show that support. A lot of people in newsrooms who are getting laid off, furloughed, who are getting pay cuts, this can make a difference if enough people step up and start to do it."

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our latest Green News Report as Trump's EPA, even in the middle of an unprecedented health crisis, has now officially reversed landmark Obama-era mileage standards for cars that, in addition to combating climate change and lowering gas prices, would have also helped prevent some 1,400 unnecessary American deaths per year. But that's not all the Administration is doing to undermine the planet's climate and the health of Americans while most folks are looking the other way, and as the plastic industry is hoping to find profit in a pandemic...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Guest: Economist Stephanie Kelton on 'The Deficit Myth' and why we can't have nice things; Also: What's in the bill? Who's now holding it up? And how Governors are dismissing our idiot President...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2020 6:45pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Avery important lesson from the coronavirus crisis for progressives and for all Americans that I hope we are all able to remember once this crisis has finally ended. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article. Please click it!]

Britain's 71-year old Prince Charles, 71-year old Rock-and-Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne and 81-year old playwright Terrence McNally all tested positive. The prolific playwright succumbed on Tuesday in Florida. They were all able to get tested for coronavirus. Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of Americans still cannot. Add it to the list of national disgraces we are collectively enduring as we stay-at-home as much as possible in hopes of slowing the spread to keep our medical system from becoming overwhelmed.

That said, Senate Democratic and Republican leaders have come to an agreement on another emergency spending bill to address a bit more of the growing fallout from the global coronavirus pandemic. The bill, if allowed to pass in the Senate by four Republicans now blocking it, and if House Democrats can pass a similarly acceptable bill, will cost a record $2 trillion. That's half the size of the nation's annual $4 trillion annual federal budget, and many experts agree, there will need to be much more spending hereafter.

And yet, nobody --- not Republicans or Democrats in the Senate, House of Representatives or White House --- seems to be complaining that we don't have the money to pay for it, or that we must cut somewhere else or raise taxes to be able to afford it. It is as if, as our guest today, Stony Brook University Professor of Economics and leading authority on Modern Monetary Theory STEPHANIE KELTON notes, we are able to just "conjure into existence, in a matter of days, a couple of trillion dollars," enough money for the largest spending bill in the history of the country. And, as it turns out, she is right!

As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) noted recently in response to the sudden disappearance of so-called "Deficit Hawks" on Capitol Hill: "It's actually a fascinating progressive moment, because what it's shown is that all of these issues have never been about 'how are you going to pay for it?' It's never been about whether we have the capacity to do these things. All of these excuses that we have been given as to why we can't treat people humanely have suddenly gone up in smoke. And what has been revealed is that all of these issues were really about a lack of political will and who you deemed worthy to be in an emergency or not."

Kelton, the former Chief Economist for the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, has been trying to make these points of late in Twitter threads, New York Times op-eds, and her upcoming book The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People's Economy. As she tells me today, "Congress will always find the funds to accomplish the things that it considers a priority. If that's tax cuts, then that's the priority, and the money will be there. If it's wars, that's the priority. If it's dealing with a global pandemic, then that suddenly becomes a priority."

She laments that Democrats, over months on the Presidential campaign trail, have not been able to educate the American public about these facts and how difficult it has now become --- after years of phony claims from politicians (of both parties) that the U.S. was going broke or that government should be run by the same fiscal rules that govern households and businesses --- "to disabuse people of these myths that we have heard from our politicians, pundits and reporters."

She argues "There is a time and a place for offsets. It's not a free lunch", but Bernie Sanders' call for "canceling $81 billion of medical debt is nothing. It's everything to the people who have medical debt. But from the perspective of the federal budget, it's practically a rounding error, it's so trivial. We could have done that and not offset it," she says. "The federal government's finances don't work like ours. They're not subject to the same constraints as a household or a private company. Once you get your head around that, a lot of other things follow."

"A year ago, could we have just done free college or Medicare For All or whatever? The answer is yes. Congress can write and pass any bill it chooses, period. The risk, though, is that if you don't include offsets, and you're simply authorizing these huge spending bills left and right, at some point you're going to eat up all of the fiscal space left in the economy. In other words, it's going to become inflationary. So there is a time and a place for offsets." That time, apparently, is not now, however. And she hopes that after this emergency finally passes, enough Americans will remember what happened here, how easy it was to "find" all the money when it was needed, to finally do away with the notion that endless wars and corporate subsidies and tax cuts for the wealthy are the only things we can afford to spend money on to "promote the general welfare" of the American people.

We discuss all of that and much more today, including details on what the proposed Phase III emergency coronavirus spending bill will and won't pay for, and the good news that America's Governors --- both Democratic and Republican --- seem to be rejecting our corrupt, man-child President when it comes to his dangerous coronavirus idiocy.

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Coronavirus, lack of leadership, wreak dangerous havoc on country and economy amid most important Presidential election in nation's history...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2020 5:57pm PT  

To quote Donald Trump when he thought the cameras had stopped rolling after his disastrous Oval Office address last week: "Oooookaaay...." So, we are now living in a new world. For the time being. Millions are being instructed to stay home from work. Markets are tanking. Major states and cities are shutting down schools, restaurants, bars, clubs, theaters and casinos. Some are instituting full "stay at home" lock-down orders. And Congress is scrambling to pass emergency legislation to try and help displaced workers and families as the coronavirus crisis threatens to shut down the nation entirely for weeks, months or longer. All of this amidst a Presidential election under the most dangerously inept and dishonest Administration in the history of the nation.

On today's BradCast, we try to get you caught up with the unfolding, bizarre and disorienting mess that we are all going through together in hopes of "flattening the curve" of the rate of infections to try and ensure that the U.S. hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed with patients. Like you, we have no idea how this is supposed to work, but we're all working through it together, even as Trump literally told the nation's Governors today they are on their own in coming up with enough respirators and other medical equipment to keep their residents alive, and as he continues to lie to the country about the availability of testing and eventual arrival date of a vaccine (which is most likely more than a year from now, even as a single live test began today).

And, speaking of that Presidential election, states --- particularly those which are touchscreen-voting heavy, like Louisiana, Georgia and Ohio --- are beginning to announce postponements of their primary elections. Ohio's Governor has attempted to do so before tomorrow's planned election that was to be held along with Florida, Illinois and Arizona. But a state judge, late today (minutes ago, justt after we got off air) has now blocked the Republican Ohio Governor's attempt to postpone. So, full-on chaos for a change in the Buckeye State tonight. The other three big states (at least at this hour) are planning to go through with their own elections tomorrow, even as polling sites at senior citizen centers are requiring last-minute relocation and frequently-elderly poll workers are (justifiably) calling in to cancel.

Other states, such as New York are considering postponement, while Maryland considers moving to all-Vote-by-Mail primaries. More than a dozen states, such as Texas, do not even currently offer no-excuse absentee voting. That needs to change. [CORRECTION: I had initially cited Pennsylvania as one of those states that do not allow no-excuse absentee voting. In fact, no-excuse absentee voting was instituted late last year as part of a package of election reforms in the Keystone State. My apologies for the error!]

We cover all of that AND wave very briefly at Sunday's Presidential Debate (which we hope to revisit in a bit more detail soon - but we'll see) before opening the phones to check in with callers today, including one from Minneapolis who describes the situation there as dire, others from Southern California who wonder where the head of the CDC has disappeared to, and another who questions both the threat and infection numbers currently being reported. All of that and way too much more on today's BradCast...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Also: Trump's LA Guv candidate goes down in runoff; Mass shooting in Fresno; Trump pardons war criminals; Impeachment Week 2 preview...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2019 5:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners to get their takes on where they are on impeachment following Week 1 of public hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first, before we go to the phones, a few news items of note from over the weekend and into today, including...

  • In Louisiana on Saturday, Donald Trump lost yet again, with Eddie Rispone, the Republican candidate for Governor that Trump rallied bigly for --- three different times over the past five weeks --- going down to the state's Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards (according to Louisiana's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems which are shamefully used across the entire state.) The embarrassing loss for Trump and Republicans in the Deep South was his second in as many weeks after he also campaigned hard for Kentucky's Governor Matt Bevin. He lost in that state to Democrat Andy Beshear the week before last. If Trump is counting on support from Republican voters in red states --- during his impeachment or his re-election next year --- he could be in for some surprises based on the reported results of this year's off-year elections. Republican U.S. Senators on the ballot in "red" and swing states may also be looking very closely at these statewide results when considering whether to vote for or against Trump's removal in an impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate next year;
  • The American Carnage that Trump pretended to promise to end continues apace, with yet another mass shooting on Sunday. The latest was at a football watch party in Fresno, CA where 10 party-goers were shot with 4 of them killed. The shooter(s) remains unknown and at large;
  • And, as the walls close in around Trump, the President of the United States attacked yet another impeachment witness on Twitter over the weekend. This one, Jennifer Williams, is a senior staffer for Vice President Mike Pence who referred to his strong-arming phone call to Ukraine's President as "inappropriate". Trump called her, baselessly, a "Never Trumper". But impeachment and removal of the President is getting more popular, according to a new poll from ABC News/Ipsos with a majority now in favor. And the worst is still to come for Trump as 9 witnesses, including Williams, will be testifying on the Ukraine bribery scandal in open hearings this week, and much of that testimony --- as we break down in detail today --- is expected to be both explosive and quite damaging to the President (who is also now reported under investigation by House legal counsel for lying to Robert Mueller in his written testimony during the Special Counsel's probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election and Trump's multiple attempts at obstructing the inquiry.)

Then, we open the phone to callers for the rest of the hour, in order to try and get a read on whether the first week of public impeachment hearings has moved them --- one way or another --- on the matter. While most of our callers say they were in favor of impeachment before it began, they are now even more so following last week's hearings. But a few of them were opposed to impeachment and still are. They offer a few humdingers as to why. I can't adequately summarize those calls and those excuses here, so I won't even try. Tune in and enjoy!

And buckle up for much more BradCast impeachment special coverage in the days ahead...whether you --- or we --- like it or not!...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: Susan Greenhalgh of Nat'l Election Defense Coalition; Also: CA shooting; Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again); More...
By Brad Friedman on 11/14/2019 6:24pm PT  

With a brief break in the hot impeachment action, we're able to pick up on a couple of stories on today's BradCast that got buried yesterday, some breaking news from today, a continuing story that should have everyone's hair on fire right now (in advance of the 2020 elections!) and, sadly, the story that already has the planet on fire. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First, some quick news on today's school shooting in Southern California, north of Los Angeles, where a 16-year old shot five students from 14 to 16-years of age. So far, two are reported dead and the shooter is said to be in grave condition from a self-inflicted wound from his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

On Wednesday, Trump lost yet again in one of his many different lawsuits seeking to block the release of his taxes to Congress and state prosecutors. The latest defeat was the refusal yesterday by the full U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. to rehear his lawsuit seeking to block the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee's subpoena of his accounting firm, Mazars USA, seeking several years of his financial records. With that loss, the case will now almost certainly be going to the Republican's stolen U.S. Supreme Court (on which two of Trump's appointees now sit). And in Trump's separate and so-far-similarly unsuccessful suit in federal court in New York, seeking to block the release of tax documents from Mazar's in the state's criminal probe involving Trump's hush-money payoffs before the 2016 election to women with whom he was having affairs, his attorneys on Thursday officially filed their appeal with SCOTUS.

In elections news, former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, a conservative Democrat, has announced his late entry into the race for the 2020 Democratic Presidential nomination. And both Trump and Republicans are going all in to try and win the Gubernatorial runoff this Saturday in Louisiana, in hopes of avoiding another Kentucky-style embarrassment.

Last week, Trump went all in for KY Governor Matt Bevin, who reportedly came up a few more than 5,000 votes shy of defeating Democratic challenger Andy Beshear. Bevin refused to concede last week, however, requesting a recanvass that was carried out by the state today. The procedure --- essentially re-checking the same computer-reported numbers again --- resulted in few changed votes, unsurprisingly. So, Bevin finally announced his concession. But that came only after his election night claims of "well-corroborated" voter fraud, including thousands of illegally cast votes.

While his promise of evidence never materialized in the week since the election, Bevin recently changed his argument to focus on concerns about the state's electronic voting and tabulation systems. While there is scant evidence of problems on that score (all the other Republicans on the statewide ballot last week, other than the unpopular Bevin, won their races), his newly found concerns --- whether he actually means them or not --- regarding the difficulty of voters to oversee and have confidence in the accuracy of electronically-cast and tabulated results, should be taken to heart by voters of all parties. These concerns are real, and could have a devastating effect on next year's elections.

To that end, one need look no further than the many disasters we've been reporting on over the past two weeks that befell voters attempting to use brand-new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in the key swing states of Pennsylvania and Georgia last week. In the roll out of the new systems in those states, which many election integrity and cybsersecurity experts warned strongly against, many voters were unable to vote at all. Some faced hour-long wait times --- during sparsely attended, off-year municipal elections! --- followed by completely inaccurate results reported by the computers.

For example, some candidates reported receiving zero votes at some precincts in Northampton County, just outside of Philadelphia (which also used the same new systems last week for the first time, despite warnings from cybsersecurity experts, and had similar problems.) In a contest for County Judge in Northampton, a Democratic candidate for County Judge reportedly received just 164 votes out of more than 100 precincts reporting on Election Night. In fact, as a manual examination of computer-printed records revealed, he is believed to have received 26,142 votes instead.

Unfortunately, there is no way to know if even that number is correct on the County's new 100% unverifiable BMD systems, which are proliferating across the nation, including PA, the entire state of GA next year, and in counties in more than a dozen other states (including here in Los Angeles County, the nation's largest!) for 2020.

We're joined today by SUSAN GREENHALGH, a longtime Election Integrity champion who now serves as Vice President for Programs at the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC). Following last week's disasters, her group has called for the immediate decertification of the 100% unverifiable ES&S ExpressVote XL systems used last week for the first time in Northampton County and Philly. Greenhalgh explains why such systems, which use touchscreens to help voters use a computer to mark and print "paper ballot"" summaries, should never be used other than as an assistive device for disabled voter who may choose to use one to help cast their ballot.

"What's really concerning about these ballot-marking devices is that there's been a false equivalency created by the vendors," she tells me. "And I think it's been accepted my many people in the election official administration space, and in the election community at large, that there's a paper record there, so therefore the voting system is verifiable. The problem is that all evidence that we have so far to go on, indicates that that the paper record [from] the expensive touchscreen ballot-marking devices is not actually verified by the voter. And that's the critical point." The NEDC advocates hand-marked paper ballots.

After years of working with elections officials and elected officials across the country, Greenhalgh offers her thoughts as to why so many of them --- Republican and Democratic alike --- continue to ignore the continued warnings from election integrity and cybsersecurity experts who strongly urge against the use of such systems, while listening instead to private vendors, such as ES&S and Dominion (the nation's two largest) who stand to make hundreds of millions from the sale of their poorly designed, oft-failed, easily-hacked, and completely unverifiable touchscreen systems.

"I've heard it said that we need a system that the Devil himself could run and you could still trust the results. It needs to be transparent, and verifiable to the electorate. And that means something that is auditable, that the voter knows that the election results are correct and that the officials can prove it." Greenhalgh argues. "There's no room for 'just trust us' in this. We shouldn't have to trust the vendors. We shouldn't have to trust the election officials. We should all be able to see and verify with our own eyes, through observation and auditing, that the election is being conducted in a fair and accurate manner, and in a secure way. Anything less than that is unacceptable in a healthy democracy --- or one that aspires to be healthy."

Greenhalgh, who is as concerned about all of this before 2020 as I am, says, however, that there is still time for jurisdictions to dump their expensive, unverifiable touchscreen systems in favor of much cheaper, far more secure, and completely verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems. She also also explains why post-election audits of results cast on computer-marked ballot systems are worthless.

"Implementing hand-marked paper ballot systems, fortunately, can be done in very quick order," she says. "States have shown us they can do that, like Maryland and Virginia. So it's not too late to fix that. What we need is the will of the election officials to make it happen, and then it can be done."

Tune in for much more that you need to hear from this conversation!

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen with our 1001st Green News Report, with disturbing news on the enormous and raging Australian bush fires, climate-change fueled frigid weather in much of the U.S., Greta Thunberg's solar-powered voyage back to Europe, and the Trump EPA's latest --- and deadly --- attack on science...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter on her jaw-dropping new exclusive finding battleground election systems vulnerable on the Internet despite claims to the contrary by elections officials, private vendors...
By Brad Friedman on 8/16/2019 6:29pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Elections officials seem to be panicking around the country, and for good reason. But their concerns may be coming a bit late...perhaps a decade or so too late, as virtually every aspect of our "public" elections in the U.S. --- from ballot programming to registration to voting to vote tabulation to election results reporting --- has now been allowed to have become largely taken over by private vendors and contractors, with little or no oversight from either state or federal officials. [Audio link to today's full show is posted at end of article.]

An exclusive analysis last month by AP found that virtually all voting systems currently in use in the nation's 10,000 separate voting jurisdictions in all 50 states run on software --- Windows 7 or earlier --- that will no longer be supported by Microsoft with regular security updates and patches as of January. That includes systems certified by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) from the nation's largest private elections vendors as recently as this year. Those newly certified systems still use Windows 7, which was released a decade ago in 2009.

Of course, the EAC's certification process --- for the few states which choose to follow federal voluntary (yes, voluntary) guidelines --- has been laughable for years. It focuses on usability and functionality, not security. Most systems in the U.S., if they are EAC certified at all, were tested to guidelines published by the EAC in 2005.

At a summit this week of elections officials and vendors, hastily convened by the EAC in Maryland in response to the disturbing AP analysis, officials complained about the lack of federal support and standards, and that financially strapped and technologically challenged elections divisions at both the state and local level are realizing only now that they are being asked "to take part in what is national security" with little or no help from the federal government. One official at the EAC confab reportedly complained: "We are talking about local communities having trouble funding roads and water bills, and now we want them to take part in defense against foreign and state actors."

Of course, it is not only nation-states like Russia that pose a threat to the security of America's vulnerable, computerized and privatized public elections, so do regular old Americans, as the recent hack by a woman in Seattle of more than 100 million customer records at Capitol One proved, along with the vulnerabilities in brand new voting and registration systems discovered by hackers in a few hours at the DefCon Voting Village convention last weekend in Las Vegas.

All of this comes on the heels of Thursday's federal court ruling finding Georgia's voting systems to be so "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack" that the judge declared the systems (which are similar to ones used in several other states) a violation of voters' Constitutional right to have their votes counted as cast.

But all of that might ultimately be small potatoes in light of longtime cybersecurity journalist and author KIM ZETTER's recent exclusive at VICE's Motherboard, finding that "Critical U.S. Election Systems Have Been Left Exposed Online Despite Official Denials". Zetter, one of the only journalists in the nation who has been covering these matters as long or longer than we have at this point, joins us on today's program to explain her jaw-dropping article which begins this way: "For years, U.S. election officials and voting machine vendors have insisted that critical election systems are never connected to the internet and therefore can't be hacked. But a group of election security experts have found what they believe to be nearly three dozen backend election systems in 10 states connected to the internet over the last year, including some in critical swing states. These include systems in nine Wisconsin counties, in four Michigan counties, and in seven Florida counties --- all states that are perennial battlegrounds in presidential elections. Some of the systems have been online for a year and possibly longer."

In many cases, she tells me, the elections officials seemed to have no idea that their systems were connected to the Internet by their vendors. As for the vendors' part --- in this case, the nation's largest, ES&S --- Zetter explains their bizarre claim that voting and backend tabulation and reporting systems connected around the clock for years at a time aren't really connected to the Internet at all --- and, even if they are, they are perfectly secure. Zetter and the data researchers found otherwise.

The systems found vulnerable on the net, she details, would allow a malicious actor to change unofficial election night results, official results, and the public reporting of the results themselves. Moreover, she explains, access to the exposed backend portions of these systems over the Internet could also result in malware being transferred to voting machines themselves. And all of this was discovered by a small team of researchers with little or no funding. No nation-state required, she confirms.

"If it was just a box on the Internet that was receiving the votes transmitted [on Election Night from the precinct] that would be a security problem in itself, not only because you could potentially alter those votes. They are unofficial results on Election Night --- and the officials results are taken from the actual memory cards in the voting machines. But if you can alter the unofficial results, that's going to create a lot of mistrust in the final outcome if they don't match," she says.

"But even if you don't alter those votes, that communication over the phone between the voting machine in the field and that backend server that's on the Internet creates a channel for infecting those voting machines. So, someone who could actually install that malware on that system on the Internet can design it in such a way that it downloads to the voting machines when they connect to that system. So the attackers can alter that voting machine in preparation for a future election."

"But that's not the only problem," she continues. "If that was the only thing that was on the Internet, that would be a concern in itself. What was remarkable is that ES&S acknowledged to me that they don't just put an empty box on there to receive the votes. Also connected to that Internet connection is the backend system for tabulating both the unofficial results on Election Night, and those official results that are later taken from the memory card."

"And the Election Management System is also connected. The Election Management System is used to do a lot of functions in elections. Among them is the actual programming of these voting machines before each election. So, if you don't get to the machines through that little receptacle that's connected to the Internet, you can get to that backend Election Management System and put in malicious code that then gets transferred directly to the voting machines before the next election."

But, of course, other than that, why worry, right? Well, Zetter has much more to say on that as well, including about Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's continuing efforts to block any and all election security measures in the Senate that might help shore up at least some of these concerns, including bills already passed by the House that would mandate hand-marked paper ballots for all voters. Even that, at this point, wouldn't fully protect against attacks on computer optical-scanners currently used in all 50 states to tabulate those ballots with little or no post-election audits to make sure they did so accurately...

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Guest: Politico's Alice Ollstein; Also: House votes to condemn Trump 'racism'; Dem Rep. to introduce Articles of Impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2019 6:32pm PT  

As a chaotic vote to condemn Donald Trump's racist comments against four Democratic freshmen Congresswomen of color moved successfully through the House during today's BradCast, we tried --- even if we didn't always succeed --- to focus as much or more on the effects of his Administration's dangerous policies, more than his obnoxious, hateful words as our eternally embarrassing President of the United States. [Audio link to full show is posted below article.]

On Monday morning, as we discussed on yesterday's program, Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr, with a stroke of his pen, took Administrative action to effectively rewrite decades of immigration law and case precedent to bar virtually all asylum claims made on the U.S. southern border. The radical action is now being challenged by the ACLU and, according to many immigration experts, is likely to be found unlawful by the federal courts.

Then, on Monday night, after we got off air yesterday, the Administration enacted another radical measure without notice. Trump's Department of Health and Human Services declared a new regulation would immediately take effect to ban medical services providers who receive Title X funding from referring patients to other doctors for abortions. Federal funds are already banned for use in most actual abortions themselves, but now what critics describe as a "gag rule" will be in place to keep medical professionals from even referring their patients.

Title X, signed in 1970 by President Richard Nixon after bipartisan support in Congress, allocates some $260 million each year to family planning services for four million low income women. The funds are granted to states across the country and to organizations such as Planned Parenthood.

Under the new regulations, as our guest today, Politico healthcare reporter ALICE OLLSTEIN detailed after the rule was first proposed earlier this year, "clinics offering abortions would need to construct physically separate entrances, hire separate staff and maintain separate medical records for its abortion and non-abortion providers --- a requirement reproductive care groups argue is so costly that some, or even perhaps many, sites would be forced to close."

At the top of today's show, news broke that, in the wake of the Administration's new regulations and other rightwing assaults on the Constitutionally-protect right to abortion, Planned Parenthood's recently appointed new President, Leana Wen, has been forced out of her post. The group had previously suggested they would need to forgo federal Title X funding if the rule was formally enacted, as have several states across the country who, like Planned Parenthood are suing to block the regulation.

Nonetheless, even before any of those lawsuits have been tried, the new rule has been placed into immediate effect by HHS, resulting in "mass confusion and chaos" for states and medical care providers alike today, according to Ollstein. "Now, any clinic that makes abortion referrals for patients who request one will have their funding cut," she tells me. "Lots of clinics across the country, including all Planned Parenthood clinics, which serve a large portion of the Title X population, said that they can't comply with that. It's against their ethics as doctors to not be able to make a referral that a patient requests. So they said 'We're going to exit this program. We're going to try to rely on our own funding as long as we can. We're going to hope the courts stop this rule, and we're going to try to keep our doors open and serve this low-income population.'" But, as Ollstein notes, "that could be a struggle."

She also explains how the Right is able to justify this blatant intrusion of the federal government between a patient and her doctor, given their years of decrying the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) under the premise that the landmark healthcare law would do just that. Ollstein also goes on to warn that the federal case currently moving through the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that could strike down Obamacare entirely as unconstitutional, is now a very real threat to the law's future --- which even Republicans in Congress are now beginning to panic about.

Also on today's program, we follow the House Democrats move today to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump for his racist "go back" to your countries tweets over the weekend, directed towards Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley and Ilhan Omar, all of whom are American citizens. Three were born in the U.S. and one, Omar, came here as a child refugee to escape civil war in Somalia. Also today, Texas Democratic Rep. Al Green announced his intention to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Trump once again tonight after the vote on resolution to condemn Trump. He vows to force a floor vote on the Articles within two legislative days.

By show's end, the racism resolution had been passed by Congress with the votes of all Democrats, four Republicans and newly independent former Republican Justin Amash, after what is being reported as a "bitterly partisan brawl" and "one of the most polarizing exchanges" ever on the House floor. The measure comes after both Trump's racist tweets telling the women to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came" on Sunday, and his doubled-down assertion on Monday that their criticism of his Presidency and policies demonstrates they "hate America".

In fact, as Philip Bump cleverly highlights in a "Who said it?" test at Washington Post, Trump's own comments about the U.S. during the Obama Administration are far more demonstrative of hating America than anything ever known to have been publicly uttered by the four women he continued to attack on Twitter today. We're happy to associate ourselves with Stephen Colbert's response to all of this from Monday night.

Finally, as if all of that isn't chaotic and ugly enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, after New Orleans dodged catastrophe (for now) from Hurricane Barry over the weekend; the U.S. sees its wettest 12-month period on record (again); and the weekend blackout in NYC reveals (also, again) the fragility of this nation's vulnerable infrastructure...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/16/2019 11:16am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: New Orleans dodges a bullet, but Hurricane Barry's impacts are not over --- by a long shot; US marks wettest 12-month period on record --- again; PLUS: Major blackout in New York City exposes infrastructure vulnerabilities... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): This Will Be a Sweltering Century in California and the Nation; Interior to move most of Bureau of Land Management’s D.C. staff out west as part of larger reorganization push; Scientists Flee USDA As Research Agencies Move To Kansas City Area; Los Angeles is finally ditching coal — and replacing it with another polluting fuel; Could Climate Change Spark a Financial Crisis? Candidates Warn Fed It’s a Risk... PLUS: “Death Spiral.” How A Carbon Tax Could End Some Coal Towns … Or Fund A New Future... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: KPFK News Dir. Ernesto Arce; Barry misses NOLA; L.A. immigrant community comes together to face down Trump raids; Plus callers!...
By Brad Friedman on 7/15/2019 6:45pm PT  

The catastrophic hurricane that didn't flood New Orleans (yet) and Trump's promised immigration round-ups that haven't happened either (yet) are both the focus of today's BradCast. That, along with callers and some appropriate upbraiding of our disgustingly xenophobic President for his obnoxious racist tweets over the weekend. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today, New Orleans may have dodged a bullet, at least for now, says our own Desi Doyen. Hurricane Barry, veered to the west as it made landfall over the weekend, helping to spare the flood-prone city from both another torrential downpour and an ocean storm surge at the mouth of the Mississippi River that might have overwhelmed the city's new pump system and over-topped levees that are already dangerously close to being over-topped after months of climate change-fueled flooding in the Central U.S. Water from those months of record flooding has made its way down the Mississippi, which was already at record levels.

The remnants of Barry is now working its way up the river, leading to flash-flood warnings in about half a dozen states over the next several days. That water will eventually make its way back down to NOLA. For now, however, the Big Easy appears to have avoided the worst. For now.

Then, following nationwide #Lights4Liberty protests across the nation on Friday, following continuing revelations of horrific and inhumane conditions at many of Donald Trump's migrant detention centers --- or concentrations camps, as they may more appropriate be known --- major cities from Los Angeles to New York buckled up for Trump's promised round-ups of "millions" of immigrants, including thousands of families across the country. Though the President threatened the door-to-door arrests would begin on Sunday, the mass round-ups by ICE have, so far, failed to materialize.

We're joined in studio today for the latest, by ERNESTO ARCE, News Director of our Pacifica Radio Network flagship affiliate, KPFK 90.7FM here in Los Angeles. Arce details how both local officials and the immigrant community in Southern California have been girding for Trump's promised ICE raids, and how the (so-far, empty) threat has served to rally the community and bring them together to resist Trump's immigration deportation forces. Having covered immigration issues for KPFK for over a decade in L.A., Arce explains how the Southern California community learned long ago how to resist thuggishness and unlawful behavior from both federal and local law enforcement officials alike and how Trump's open racism has served to embolden many of the officials in several of those agencies.

"Since 9/11, since [1994's] Prop 187, since the million-plus people came out to downtown LA to protest the [2006] Sensenbrenner Bill, there has been a powerful immigrants rights community and immigrant rights advocacy movement here in the United States," he tells me, adding "nowhere has it been as strong as here in Southern California and Los Angeles."

Arce also observes how Friday's protests against the Administration's practices, during these dark hours of the Trump Presidency, demonstrate the resilience of the Southern California immigrant community and those who support them. "The biggest phrase we can come out with in this movement is 'resistance.' You've got all these groups that are organizing, not just organizing Lights4LIberty, but groups organizing all these kinds of actions saying 'We're going to defend our community against any type of raid, against any type of what we believe is an unlawful action by federal ICE agents.' ... We've had very moving ceremonies, many events and efforts over the last few weeks, where the community comes together and says --- 'Undocumented and Unafraid" is one of the main phrases, 'Abolish ICE' is another --- [where] people are unwilling to put up with fear mongering and terrorizing of a community."

Then, we cover Trump's reprehensible, xenophobic, racist Twitter attacks over the weekend against four Democratic freshman Congresswomen of color, and how the appalling attacks have served to unite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Trump's targets-of-the-moment --- Reps. Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rashida Tlaib (MI), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Ilhan Omar (MN) --- along with the rest of the Democratic caucus, to push back on the President with a planned resolution condemning his statements. Shamefully, very few Republicans in either chamber of Congress have condemned Trump's racist attacks on members of Congress.

Finally, we open the phones lines for a bit on all of the above today! Enjoy!...

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Guest-host Nicole Sandler with actor/filmmaker Harry Shearer on NOLA disaster past (Katrina), present (Barry) and future; WH correspondent Brian Karem on his Rose Garden troll scuffle...
By Nicole Sandler on 7/12/2019 4:25pm PT  

It's Nicole Sandler here, guest hosting the BradCast on another busy news day in Trump's Amerikkka.

Alex Acosta resigned, Mueller’s testimony is postponed, Barry is bearing down on New Orleans. And the president held a Troll Summit in the White House. We cover those stories and more on today’s show.

With Barry set to make landfall as perhaps a Category 1 hurricane in Louisiana Friday night or Saturday morning, I reached out to an old friend --- HARRY SHEARER. In addition to his vast body of television and film work, books and albums, Harry made a documentary a few years back called The Big Uneasy, which explores why New Orleans flooded during Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday, the White House hosted a bunch of internet trolls for an event they called a Social Media Summit… BRIAN KAREM, senior WH reporter for Playboy and a CNN political analyst, got into a slight kerfuffle with none other than Sebastian Gorka in the Rose Garden. Karem joins us to explain what happened and talk about the oddity that is the White House press office.

Enjoy!...

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




With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/11/2019 11:39am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: New Orleans braces for extreme rain, dangerous flooding and a test of their levee system; FEMA warns it is understaffed as hurricane season gets underway; Climate activist Tom Steyer jumps into crowded 2020 Presidential race; PLUS: World's most powerful oil cartel is afraid of teen climate activists... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Adapting to climate change is going to cost Florida a lot. Who's going to pay for it?; Trump Tries to Gaslight Planet Earth; Trump threatens veto on defense bill that targets PFAS 'forever chemicals'; The Colorado River needs a long-term plan for drought; The climate change policy with the most potential is the most neglected; Throwing food away --- or just burning it --- counts as recycling in bill awaiting Murphy's approval... PLUS: David Attenborough: polluting planet may become as reviled as slavery... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Migration Policy Institute's Sarah Pierce; Also: Barr's power grabs continue elsewhere; Hurricane Barry takes aim at already flooded NOLA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/10/2019 6:46pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Attorney General continues to make extraordinary, unprecedented moves at the Dept. of Justice as he takes power for himself on all manner of things. And only some of those moves are receiving the attention they deserve. [Audio link to show follows below.]

But first up today, just two days after nearly 4 inches of record rainfall in one hour resulted in flash flooding and a number of high-water rescues in the nation's capital --- on the very same day Trump was delivering a ridiculous, rambling speech on his (horrific) environmental record --- an even worse downfall slammed New Orleans on Wednesday. What lies ahead this week for NOLA, however, may be far worse. A tropical storm spun up quickly off the Gulf Coast following the downpour, and now threatens to become a hurricane that could, as soon as this weekend, over-top levees that protect the city. The Mississippi River at New Orleans is already at 16 feet, just below flood stage, thanks to historic spring flooding in the central U.S. But Hurricane Barry could bring a storm surge of several feet of ocean water and as much as 18 inches of rain that could test the city's 20-foot high levees. The National Weather Service is now projecting the river could crest at that same height by Saturday, depending on which way the winds blow. That may happen despite the failure of science denier and corrupt fossil fuel swamp-dweller Trump to utter the words "climate change" during his environmental speech earlier this week.

Meanwhile, back in D.C., Trump's Attorney General and personal fixer William Barr continues to exercise extraordinary, unprecedented powers in his role as the nation's chief law enforcement official. So far, the federal courts have held off a fair amount of his attempted power grabs, including a federal court in New York which has, for the moment, blocked his latest move to replace all of the Dept. of Justice attorneys previously assigned to defend legal challenges to the Administration's effort to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census. Another federal judge in another legal challenge on the same matter in Maryland is now considering whether to block those replacements as well.

At the same time, however, Barr is also reportedly instructing former members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to not appear before Congress to give testimony next week on the same day Mueller is currently scheduled to do so.

But a recent, little noticed move over the 4th of July holiday week to grant himself the power to establish precedent on immigration laws, overriding decisions by immigration judges, needs much more attention. Last week, a federal court blocked Barr's decree to disallow bond hearings for asylum-seekers who successfully demonstrate a "credible fear" of return to their home countries. But for a ruling by the federal court in Washington state last week, Barr's decree would have resulted in immigrant asylum-seekers being held for months or even years in already horrific, overcrowded detention facilities as they await their official hearings in immigration court. U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely is "unconstitutional".

The day before her ruling, however, Barr quietly signed yet another new regulation --- without the traditional public comment period --- that restructures the way immigration courts have handled appeals for years. Previously, while tens of thousands of decisions are made on cases by the Board of Immigration Appeals each year, only a small number of them, about 30 per year, are published in order to establish them as precedent. Under current law, unpublished decisions are not binding on the entire system and are only published if a majority of the 21 member Board votes to do so. But last week, relying on a public comment period from about 15 years ago concerning a regulation proposed (but rejected) by the George W. Bush Administration, Barr granted himself unilateral power to selectively publish any such decisions that he likes. The move, in effect, will allow him the authority as Attorney General to set immigration law precedent that must be followed during this Administration as well as future ones, at his own whim.

We're joined today by SARAH PIERCE, immigration attorney and Policy Analyst for the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute to explain both the encouraging news on Barr's temporarily blocked bond hearing rule, first decreed back in April, as well as his move last week to reign as king over U.S. immigration policy by using the abandoned "zombie regulation", as Pierce describes it, on appeals court precedents first proposed by the Bush Administration. She describes the latter as "alarming", noting that "under this new regulation, the Attorney General will have his pick of whatever issue he wants, and really, whatever plans on the issue he wants, when deciding whether or not to make some of these decisions precedent." Pierce warns that these could be "decisions on what kinds of crimes makes someone deportable from the United States," for example, adding that "the possibilities are really endless when he has so many decisions before him to choose from."

She argues that the way immigration courts are currently structured, under the control of the DoJ, not the Judicial Branch, results in unconfirmed and even unqualified people being appointed as immigration judges without Congressional confirmation or oversight. They all serve at the pleasure and whims of the Attorney General. "This is a huge problem with our immigration court that we have this political appointee who is in charge of effectively the legal well-being of our immigration system. That's a huge problem and a huge conflict of interest," she tells me.

We also discuss the mountain of recent reports of overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary conditions at detention centers on the border; why we are seeing this influx of families seeking asylum in the U.S.; why this Administration is handling it all so poorly, despite the number of immigrants and asylum seekers being far larger during previous administrations; and how the system itself needs to be reformed, with immigration courts placed under an independent body.

Finally today, with all of the coverage in the media and focus by Democrats on the 2020 Presidential race, the need to win back a majority in the U.S. Senate no matter who wins the White House has taken a back seat, unfortunately. But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer was able to claim at least one recruiting victory this week, with Marine combat aviator Amy McGrath, who narrowly lost a U.S. House race last November in Kentucky, declared her intention of taking on Republican Majority Leader and democracy villain Mitch McConnell during his reelection bid in the Bluegrass State next year. We share McGrath's announcement video and ponder why the hell more big name Democrats --- including many who have chosen to run for the Presidential nomination instead --- aren't stepping up to the equally-as-important task of winning back the U.S. Senate for their party in 2020...

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Bizarre day in the Conway household; Remarkable GOP excuses for ignoring Mueller; MI drops Flint water crisis indictments; Plus: A long-overdue musical tribute to the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/13/2019 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we've got quite a bit of hard news, though we have to start off with a brief personal note. [Audio link to today's show follows below.]

Among the stories covered today...

  • My much-beloved hometown hockey team, the St. Louis Blues, are now Stanley Cup Champions for the first time in the franchise's storied if oft-frustrating 52-year history! After going from last place in the NHL in January to win the Cup in Game 7 in Boston, it seems only fair I'm allowed a short, if long-overdue, victory lap on today's program --- along with a bumper music tribute to the team I grew up with throughout today's show. (And no, Blues fans, it's probably not the music you expect!);
  • In somewhat more substantive, if less pleasant, matters (kicked off by a Daily Kos BradCast commenter who deserves credit for an appropriate invocation of the word "paracosm" today), life in the Conway household must be getting more bizarre by the day. On Thursday, the Trump-appointed head of the federal government watchdog Office of Special Counsel (not to be confused with Robert Mueller's Special Counsel's Office) recommended that Kellyanne Conway, one of Donald Trump's top advisers and apologists, be fired for "repeated violations" of the Hatch Act. The federal law bars federal officials from using their official offices for political purposes, yet Kellyanne repeatedly used hers to bash Democrats running for office while promoting Donald Trump and other Republicans. Scoffing at the watchdog's recommendation, of course, the corrupt White House is all but certain to ignore the multiple violations of federal law by one of its top officials;
  • Meanwhile, at the other end of Chez Conway, Kellyanne's husband, longtime Republican attorney and activist George took to the pages of Washington Post to file a scorching op-ed with Barack Obama's former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, slamming Trump's latest legal appeal in the President's attempt to block Congressional subpoenas for financial documents from his accounting firm Mazars. Conway and Katyal deride the President's claims that Congress is Constitutionally barred from investigating criminal matters, and that only the Executive Branch may do so. "The idea that only the president can investigate the president is an argument for autocrats, not Americans," the pair write, arguing that Trump's legal argument seems to invite an official impeachment proceeding by Congress. "Every principle behind the rule of law requires the commencement of a process now to make this president a former one," they conclude, in what must make for some very chilly dinner conversation at the Conway household;
  • In not-at-all unrelated news, Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, the only sitting Republican member of Congress to call for impeachment proceedings against Trump, continues to maintain is not planning a run for President on the Libertarian ticket, though he said he has not "ruled anything out". He also lobbed back a pretty impressive response to an attempted Twitter shot by Donald Trump, Jr. (Of course, given the information-starved Trump supporters, it may be one they don't even understand.) Earlier this week, Amash officially resigned from the hard-right "House Freedom Caucus" (formerly known as the "Tea Party Caucus") which he had co-founded, having split with the group whose members have now become amongst the most virulent defenders and apologists for Trump in Congress. He also voted yesterday with Democrats in the House Oversight Committee to hold Attorney General Bill Barr and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross in contempt for defying a subpoena to turn over documents related to false Administration claims regarding the addition of a question about citizenship on the 2020 Census;
  • Of course, the reason Amash is currently the only sitting GOPer to call for Trump's impeachment is because he may be the only Republican in the House who actually bothered to read the Mueller Report, which details multiple instances of criminal obstruction by the President for Congress to consider for impeachment proceedings. This past week has brought some remarkably original excuses from GOP House members as to why they are willing to overlook and excuse multiple, well-documented federal crimes by the President, who Mueller found to have committed some of the very same unlawful actions for which articles of impeachment were brought against both Presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. For example, Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot, who as a member of the Judiciary Committee in 1998 voted for impeachment against Clinton, now says Donald Trump never swore on a bible, so there's nothing to impeach him for. Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall fell all over himself with some remarkable, false and contradictory statements while trying to explain why he proudly refuses to even read Mueller's report at all! But while Republican members of Congress might be excused --- under the world's most generous interpretation possible --- for being clueless when it comes to the Rule of Law, no such generosity can possibly excuse the jaw-dropping response to the Mueller Report's findings from the state of Louisiana's chief law enforcement officer, Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry;
  • Finally today, stunning news out of Michigan, where the state's recently appointed Solicitor General, tapped earlier this year by newly-elected Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel, announced that state prosecutors were dropping all criminal charges against eight people indicted in the Flint lead poisoning water crisis and starting the probe over from scratch after an expansive new body of evidence was reviewed. Prosecutors say they may recharge some of the previously indicted individuals, but that new evidence reveals former Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette's three-year investigation failed to properly examine large swaths of material evidence, some of which is said to be tied to former Republican Gov. Rick Snyder. We try to make some sense of that news as we close out today's show...and musical tribute to my favorite underdog hometown team...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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Broken U.S. goes from grim to grimmer...
By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2019 7:04pm PT  

Today's BradCast, not unlike today's news, goes from grim to grimmer...But we find a reason or two to smile every now again. Really! I promise! [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the tales told of our broken country on today's program...

  • Breaking right at the top, Trump's Dept. of Justice announces 17 new charges filed against WikiLeak's Julian Assange, "including a virtually unprecedented move to charge him with publishing classified material," which serves as a very serious threat to the First Amendment rights of all journalists and media outlets;
  • Breaking over night, 13 tornadoes were confirmed across Missouri, including a "violent" twister that ripped through its capital of Jefferson City. One near Joplin lead to the deaths of three, eight years to the day after a tornado, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killed 160 in the southwest MO town. In total, there have been more than 130 tornadoes over about a half-dozen states in just the past week...for some reason;
  • A breakthrough in the Senate on Thursday as the White House finally agreed to support a long-awaited disaster relief bill that does not include more money for Trump's border projects. But it does include $19 billion in actual disaster relief funding to hurricane, tornado, flooding, and wildfire ravaged states in the Southeast, Midwest, California, Puerto Rico and elsewhere after Trump held up the measure for months in hopes of border money and to block much-needed funds for Puerto Rico where communities were wiped out and thousands of Americans killed following 2017's Hurricane Maria;
  • The Trump Administration announced another $16 billion giveaway to farmers --- on top of the $11 billion bailout they were given last year --- as compensation for Trump's ongoing trade war with China that has broken import/export markets around the world, hitting Trump supporters in farm country particularly hard. As it has become clear that President Stable Genius' trade war with China shows no sign of ending any time soon ("They're really easy to win!," he has repeatedly said) and as the cost of his import tariffs (new taxes on Americans) continue to add up, world financial markets are "buckling" again today;
  • And, as all of that is ongoing, Trump appears to be coming even more unglued by the day, as the noose of his own criminality continues to tighten. Witness his insane tweets attacking his own former Sec. of State Rex Tillerson, who he described on Twitter today as "'dumb as a rock' and totally ill prepared and ill equipped to be Secretary of State." Maybe. But whoever would hire such an ill-prepared dolt for such an important job must be even dumber, apparently. Trump's comments were in response to testimony the former Secretary of State and Exxon-Mobil CEO gave to Congress this week, in which he detailed for hours how embarrassingly unprepared Trump was for a two-hour meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the 2017 G-20 summit;
  • And yet, with all of that, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who charged on Wednesday that Trump was "engaged in a cover-up", vowed at her weekly press conference on Thursday that House Democrats were "not on a path to impeachment". She further suggested that Trump was too unstable to govern and offered prayers once again for him while "wish[ing] that his family or his Administration or his staff would have an intervention for the good of the country." If only there was a way for CONGRESS to somehow "intervene for the good of the country". Maybe Pelosi will come up with something...anything that could be done on that score. In the meantime, she did note that the use of the Constitution's 25th Amendment, which allows a President's cabinet to remove a President who is, for any reason, "unable to discharge the duties of the office" would be "a good idea." But really, if only there was SOMETHING a majority led by Pelosi in the House could possibly do for the good of the country?! We discuss;
  • Next, as if you didn't think this Presidency could get any grimmer, Trump is now said to be considering a Memorial Day weekend pardon of a passel of U.S. military war criminals who were either convicted of horrific crimes via military court-martial or who have been charged and are facing upcoming trials. We detail some of those horrendous crimes and the likely reason that Trump is now reportedly turning the Presidential pardon process on its head to grant unprecedented get-out-of-jail-free cards to war criminals while insulting his own military and breaking his own military justice system in the bargain. (Hint: Fox "News");
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the week's terrifying tornado swarms and flooding in the beleaguered Midwest, a disturbing new study on sea level rise, Louisiana's plan to retreat from the coast, and some good news and bad (mostly bad) from Trump's EPA...

Download MP3 or listen to complete show online below...

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