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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 17, 2019
'Why Was it Necessary to Smear My Reputation?': Yovanovitch Testifies, Trump Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/15/19
Guest: Heather Digby Parton; Also: Stone guilty on all counts; Giuliani facing criminal probe...
Election Advocates Demand Decert of New E-Vote Systems That Failed in PA, GA:
'BradCast' 11/14/19
Guest: NEDC's Susan Greenhalgh; Also: Deval jumps in; Bevin concedes; Trump loses (again)
'Green News Report' 11/14/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Catastrophic fires in Australia; Arctic blast in U.S.; Thunberg sets sail back to Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/19 - 11/7/19 - Archives...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Union of Concerned Scientists' Andrew Rosenberg; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand 'GNRs' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler w/ Frederick Clarkson on Christian Right's 'Project Blitz'...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever; Trump EPA weakens water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
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 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...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/14/2019 11:13am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Catastrophic fires hit Australia; Arctic blast hits much of the U.S.; Teen climate activist Thunberg sets sail for Europe; PLUS: Trump EPA seeks to limit science used to write public health rules... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US WITH A (MUCH-NEEDED) DONATION to celebrate 1000+ episodes of independent, listener-supported climate, energy and environmental news! Thank you!
Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate change will affect “every single stage” of a child’s life, health researchers warn; Red tide is back off the coast of Florida. Residents aren't sure how much more they can take; Venice Floods: Italian council is flooded immediately after rejecting measures on climate change; Sunday morning political shows completely ignore extreme weather and Trump environmental rollbacks in October... PLUS: Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders pitch Green New Deal bill for public housing... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the disastrous failures of new touchscreen vote systems last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 Presidential election...
By Brad Friedman on 11/11/2019 6:01pm PT  

Yes, everything, even wildfires in California, are now political, as proven over the weekend when I tweeted out a non-political video I captured of a fire that broke out on a hillside in the San Fernando Valley, threatening the iconic Hollywood sign just on the other side of the hill. Callers ring in today --- as we were able to open the phones for the first time in weeks --- on a bunch of stories covered on today's BradCast.

Among those stories...

  • Trump loses yet again in court as a federal judge on Monday dismissed his lawsuit filed in D.C. hoping to, preemptively, prevent Congress from using New York state's newly adopted law which allows the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee to request copies of the tax returns of New York residents (read: Donald Trump's). It was just another loss in the long list of frivolous lawsuits brought by Trump to try and keep his tax returns from becoming public, for some reason;
  • Over the weekend Republicans submitted a list of requested witnesses for the upcoming public hearings in the Trump impeachment matter regarding his attempt to extort Ukraine by withholding military assistance in exchange for his demand that Ukraine announce an investigation into Joe Biden, his son Hunter and a conspiracy regarding Ukraine interference in the 2016 election. The House GOP's request list includes both Hunter Biden and the whistleblower who first brought the Ukraine matter to light. Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intelligence Committee holding the public hearings this week responded by saying that he will not allow the proceedings to be used to promote the already-debunked theories that Trump was attempting to force Ukraine to spread in his unlawful effort to strong-arm the nation's new President into helping Trump on his 2020 reelection campaign;
  • We review some of the remarkable comments I received over the weekend after I tweeted a completely non-political news video of a wildfire in Burbank which broke out while I was there. Did you know they were caused by socialist homeless pedophiles? Who knew? Trump fans on Twitter do, apparently!;
  • And, speaking of both fires in CA and the 2020 elections, I share the response I recently received from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office seeking comment about their contingency plans to deal with preemptive power outages should they occur during the general election next year at the same time as the ones California power companies imposed this year in hopes of not sparking wildfires during climate change-fueled hot, dry and windy conditions.

    Now that Los Angeles is moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems and electronic pollbooks, such an outage could prove disastrous for voters on Election Day and during early voting next year. Unfortunately, while the Registrar's office here replied to my queries on this (tune in to hear their response), they failed to reply to follow up questions;

  • All of this is decidedly NOT an academic issues, given the disasters that occurred last week during Off-Year municipal elections in George and Pennsylvania, where, for the first time, counties in those states deployed brand-new touchscreen voting systems akin to the ones that Los Angeles will be forcing voters to use at voting centers next year, rather than hand-marked paper ballots and paper pollbooks (neither of which require electricity or the Internet).

    The results were catastrophic in many PA and GA polling places with some voters unable to vote at all, many forced had to wait up to an hour during the sparsely attended off-year election, and computer-reported results showing some candidates receiving 0 votes at several precincts, even though they'd received thousands. And, yes, a power outage prevented voters from voting at one precinct. All of this serves as a chilling preview of what could well await the nation in 2020 during the most critical Presidential election in our nation's history.

Finally, we then open the phone lines, at long last, on all of the above. And our listeners have a LOT to say about it all, including a few who believe global warming is a hoax, and that the President should NOT be impeached for either extortion or obstruction of justice. Fun! Tune in for all of that and much more on today's very lively BradCast!

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/7/2019 10:55am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 11,000 scientists issue dire warning on climate change; The planet just broiled through the hottest October ever recorded; Trump EPA moves to weaken water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu and Maui County sue Big Oil over climate damages... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Voters flip Virginia state legislature, clearing way for climate and clean energy policies; 'Whiskey in punch'? Justices probe Clean Water Act's limits; Young climate activists chain selves to Washington pier amid pipeline delivery; Banned ozone-harming gas, once on the rise, now declining again; Dumped fishing gear is the biggest plastic polluter in the ocean, study finds; NASA methane gas detectors find 'super emitters' in California; Wall Street increasingly weighing risk from climate change... PLUS: Unplugging PG&E is easier said than done... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Donald Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; And what YOU must now do about all of it...
By Brad Friedman on 11/5/2019 6:08pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's Election Day today, and not going well in several states. But it's also Election Day one year from today, for President, and we've got some very timely advice. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Voter are voting, or trying to, in dozens of states around the country today. And, like clockwork, voting systems --- particularly newly installed touchscreen and electronic pollbook systems --- are failing and causing long voting times in a number of states (like New York, Virginia, and Indiana --- where "about 30% of the 93 precincts in St. Joseph County" had touchscreen problems, according to its County Clerk), even in sparsely attended off-year elections. We'll have more such problems as they come to light, undoubtedly, along with noteworthy results of Tuesday's elections across the nation, on tomorrow's BradCast.

But, while we're waiting, as we are now exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, there is every reason to imagine (foolishly, we'll add here) that Donald Trump will be wiped out in a landslide next year. All things being equal, on a level playing field and sane world, he would be. But we live in neither these days. Even setting aside his ongoing impeachment, his last week has been an embarrassment of failures.

  • His withdrawal from the landmark Iran nuclear agreement has now resulted in Iran installing at least 60 new, modern, high-speed centrifuges to enrich uranium, which had been previously banned under the pact --- until Trump broke it.
  • An analysis of U.S. troops now both coming and going in Syria following Trump's sudden declaration that the U.S. was pulling out of the warn torn nation and his subsequent announcement that he was sending troops in to defend oil field left abandoned by our fleeing Kurdish allies, means that when all is said and done, the U.S. will have 900 troops in the country. That, versus the 1,000 that were there previously. And with all of that, "the United States has deserted its pivotal Kurdish ally; ceded territory the Kurds had controlled to Syria, Turkey and Russia; and opened the door for a possible Islamic State resurgence" as hundreds of ISIS prisoners were able to escape in the Trump-created confusion.
  • At the same time, back home, we've learned that Trump's "impenetrable" border wall, built with $10 billion in tax-payer dollars (not Mexican pesos), is anything but impenetrable, as smugglers are said to be breaching it with a simple power tool available for under $100 at Home Depot.
  • And while he hasn't cancelled Native American Heritage Month, as some on the Internet were reporting on Monday, he has declared November, awkwardly, for the first time, to also be National American History and Founders Month, a pet White Powery swamp project of one of his top campaign funders.

With all of that failure and ineptitude and embarrassment and corruption --- from just the past several days alone --- you'd think this guy would be heading toward a blow-out landslide loss next year to whichever candidate or ham sandwich Democratic voters nominate to run against him in 2020. Indeed, Washington Post and ABC News today published new polling showing that, among currently registered voters, all five leading Democratic candidates (Biden, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg and Harris) crush Trump in head-to-head national match-ups next year by anywhere from 17 to 9 points. While that could ultimately turn out to be true, that polling --- and a lot of similar surveys you will hear over the next year --- are of NATIONAL polling. We do not run national elections in this country. We run state-by-state electoral college elections for President.

And, on that score, the New York Times has a much more sobering --- and even chilling --- preview of where they find that things currently stand in the six battleground states (MI, PA, WI, FL, AZ and NC) that were said to have decided the election in Trump's favor in 2016. In those states, Trump is currently believed to be even with or defeating the top Democrats, according to the new polling, which may be either right or wrong.

There are many caveats on that poll as well. Either way, it should serve as a very loud, screaming, red flag, siren alarm bell for those who believe Trump couldn't possibly win re-election next year. Given the more-art-than-science nature of such polling and our incredible fragile and vulnerable electoral systems, he absolutely could win the election again next year (just as we warned, to little avail or notice, in 2016.) Thus, NOW is a great time to take action: What are YOU going to do next year to help voters vote? We discuss and offer a few ideas. It's time to take action.

Finally, speaking of still more Trump failures, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with news on the President's ridiculous withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, yet another new oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline, and much more as we approach our 1000th episode of the GNR! (For which we humbly thank you for supporting through your donations at BradBlog.com/Donate! If you haven't done so lately, now would be a really great time to stop by with a one-time or recurring donation of any amount you like. Thank you!)

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/5/2019 10:37am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Trump Administration begins formal withdrawal from Paris Climate Agreement; Another significant oil spill on the Keystone Pipeline; Trump threatens to withdraw federal disaster aid for California wildfires; PLUS: Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg takes her climate action message to Los Angeles... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): I’m a climate scientist who believes in God. Hear me out; First cyberattack on solar, wind assets revealed widespread grid weaknesses, analysts say; Possible solar storage breakthrough could be game changer; Indonesian journalists critical of illegal palm oil plantation found dead; Oil-rich Norway’s central bank sounds climate risk warning... PLUS: Exxon climate ads aren’t "political," according to Twitter... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official offers first-hand corroboration of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign...
By Brad Friedman on 10/31/2019 5:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast, in an historic vote, the U.S. House officially adopted formal rules and procures to govern the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. We also do a bit of helpful Impeachment 101 to explain how it works, and what we know historically about the process from the three prior Presidential impeachment proceedings against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. [Audio link to program is posted below.]

Then, it's on to today's vote in the U.S. House, undercutting a limp Republican argument --- already undercut by a federal court last week which determined no such vote was actually required by the Constitution to proceed with impeachment --- a sharply divided House adopted a resolution [PDF] by a 232 to 196 vote, setting out official rules for how the inquiry will proceed. All present members of the GOP voted against the measure and all but two Democrats (conservative ones, from districts won by Trump in 2016) voted in favor. So did former Tea Party Republican turned Independent Rep. Justin Amash of Texas.

The resolution sets the ground rules for upcoming public hearings in the House Judiciary Committee with witnesses who have testified to members behind-closed-doors in recent weeks. The adopted procedures allow the President and his attorneys to participate and cross-examine witnesses in those hearings, as well as request subpoenas for their own witnesses and other evidence, as long as they do not obstruct the proceedings or continue to withhold evidence. The Democrats are targeting a timeline that could see a vote on Articles of Impeachment in the Judiciary Committee and then the full House by Christmas, unless it is further derailed by continuing White House obstruction.

We cover the historic floor arguments today in favor of the resolution offered by Democrats from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff to several rank-and-file members, along with arguments against the resolution from members like House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Minority Whip Steve Scalise.

Even as today's vote was carried out, both Democratic and Republican impeachment investigators from the Intelligence, Foreign Services and Oversight Committees continued taking depositions behind closed doors on Thursday, from witnesses testifying about Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, which is at the center of the current effort to consider official Articles of Impeachment against the President. Testifying in the House today was the top Russia expert on the White House's National Security Council, Tim Morrison, who was hand-picked by his immediate superior, the extremely right-wing then National Security Advisor John Bolton (who Democrats have also summoned to offer testimony in coming days.) Morrison reportedly corroborated accounts by other senior Administration officials that Trump did, in fact, personally push to withhold $391 million in Congressionally-allocated security assistance to Ukraine in exchange for a commitment from its new President to open an investigation into Joe Biden and a conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Russia) attempted to manipulate the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.

Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with new evidence that Donald Trump is losing --- and losing badly --- the "War on Coal", the ominous sign for every state offered by California's wildfires and power blackouts, a very disturbing new study on sea level rise, and a number of major automakers joining Trump in his battle against California and a number of other major automakers on mileage and emissions standards...

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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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/31/2019 11:15am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Nation's largest coal company files for bankruptcy; California wildfires and blackouts hold ominous warning for every state in the nation; New research warns severe flooding for coastal cities will arrive faster than predicted; PLUS: Major auto-companies side with Trump Administration against California on auto emissions... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): This perfect shitstorm crystallizes the climate crisis we all face; Big Oil wants your love, and it's using Obama to get it; Louisiana’s ‘Cancer Alley’ gets even more toxic — residents fight back; Greta Thunberg rejects major climate award: "start listening"; Keystone pipeline leaks oil [again]; FPL wants to run Turkey Point’s nuclear reactors for 80 years; Prolonged Missouri River flooding could last all winter... PLUS: Captured By Coal: ‘Like a death in the family... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Media reformer Sue Wilson; Also: Preemptive blackouts threaten CA elections; GOP tries denial as impeachment defense; Trump Campaign has bought 69,000 Facebook ads since May...
By Brad Friedman on 10/30/2019 6:24pm PT  

Right in the middle of today's BradCast, as we were discussing the very topic, Twitter announced that they would be blocking all political ads before 2020 from their massive social media site. As our guest today explains, however, Facebook, still refuses to even fact-check political ads purchased on their site, no matter how demonstrably false and misleading they are. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, as fires rage up and down the great state of California due to climate change-fueled winds, heat, tinderbox dry conditions and preemptive power blackouts by private, for-profit utility companies who failed to heed early warnings, it's become clear that elections in the Golden State are now also endangered. Exactly one year out from next year's critical Presidential election, a number of large counties in the state, most notably here in Los Angeles (the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction) are moving to 100% unverifiable electronic touchscreen voting systems, rather than verifiable hand-marked paper ballots, and to e-pollbook systems at Voting Centers which rely on the Internet to establish voter eligibility before voting, rather than old school paper pollbooks.

Both new systems also require electricity for voters to be able to cast their votes at all. But what if power companies are forced, at this very same time next year, to once again preemptively shut down power to avoid the threat of utility line sparked wildfires? We have queried L.A.'s County Clerk and Registrar Recorder's office seeking information on what their backup plans are for such a situation, should it occur, next year. We'll let you know what, if anything, we hear back from Registrar Dean Logan or his office on an upcoming show.

Then, today's impeachment update includes a look at another one of the Republicans' latest attempts to find a way --- some way, any way! --- to defend Donald Trump's well-documented quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine, as he withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in Congressionally-allocated military assistance in hopes of forcing Ukraine's President to commit to a probe of Trump's 2020 political rival Joe Biden. After eviscerating, on yesterday's program, the disingenuous cries from GOPers in recent days that the inquiry was unfair to the President for lack of "due process," today we highlight several of the attempts by a number of Republicans to simply deny the entire matter even exists. From Presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner's recent claim that the impeachment is little more than a "silly game" because the President "hasn't done anything wrong", to Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV)'s refusal to answer even the simplest questions about Trump's documented behavior, to Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL)'s admission that he hadn't even attended a single impeachment inquiry hearing session, despite being a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of three that has been taking depositions behind closed doors from witnesses in the Ukraine affair over the past several weeks.

Then, with the Trump Campaign having purchased some 69,000(!) micro-targeted Facebook ads since May alone, many of them either entirely false or horrifically misleading (and amounting to more ads in total than all 18 current Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates combined!) we're joined by SUE WILSON, former Emmy and AP-award winning broadcast journalist turned media reform activist and founder of the Media Action Center, to discuss the controversial refusal by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to fact-check political ads purchased on his enormous social media site.

Wilson recently wrote at The BRAD BLOG about the controversy, sparked by Zuckerberg's refusal to block a clearly false Trump ad which CNN refused to air, and a subsequent false ad by Elizabeth Warren that she purposely ran at Facebook (and admitted was false) in order to press the point. That column, critiquing Zuckerberg's claim to be following local broadcaster ad standards (despite not being a broadcaster) as an important issue of "free speech", was published prior to some 200 employees of the social media giant signing a public letter this week calling for a number of the same reforms cited by Wilson in her recent op-ed.

"Personally, I'm offended by the idea that lying ads are the same as free speech," she tells me. "That is not free speech. It is paid speech, paid-to-misinform-people speech."

Wilson describes the breaking news about Twitter as "wonderful", adding: "It's kind of ironic that it's taking Facebook for us to start looking at these political ads that are allowed to lie to us. Not only should Facebook ban all political ads, but we should rewrite the laws so that broadcasters ban all political ads. This is a giant industry which promotes misinformation, and this is one very good way to start telling the truth to America."

Wilson debunks a number of Zuckerberg's claims about his ill-considered policy decision to allow all paid political propaganda ads by campaigns to run, no matter how many lies are included in them, and explains the arcane, nearly century-old federal requirements regarding which political ads broadcasters (versus cable channels and television networks) are allowed to prevent from running and which ones they may not censor, no matter how demonstrably false they may be.

Today's conversation with Wilson makes clear that Facebook needs to, as its own employees advise, rethink its current policy, at a minimum, before the platform is further "weaponized" by political campaigns with "destructive misinformation" that threatens our very democracy, even as concerns about political censorship by huge media outlets remains a concern. Hope you'll tune in for this important discussion in advance of next year's critical Presidential election!...

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Guest: Former Asst. U.S. Attorney Randall Eliason; Also: Army officer was so alarmed by Trump's Ukraine scheme he alerted NSC lawyers; NC court orders ungerrymandered U.S. House maps for 2020!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2019 6:17pm PT  

On today's BradCast: We're at the point in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump when the facts against him have become so damning that he and his supporters in Congress are pretty much just tossing everything they can against the wall to see what, if anything sticks. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first today, some long-overdue very good news out of North Carolina, where a three-judge state court panel has determined the state's Republican-drawn Congressional maps to be an "extreme partisan gerrymander" and has ordered new maps before the 2020 elections. The court went so far as to state that no more Congressional elections may be run on the current maps, and if new ones aren't drawn in time for next year's March 3 primary election, the judges --- two Democrats and a Republican --- will postpone the primaries until they do.

The news is long-overdue, though hardly a surprise. North Carolina is the most divided of swing states, but the GOP-skewed maps have resulted in 3 Democrats and 10 Republicans in the state's Congressional delegation for the past decade. A federal appeals court already ruled the same map to be an unconstitutional partisan gerrymander and ordered a new one drawn. But that ruling was ultimately over-ruled by the stolen Republican majority on the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, when they declared in a 5 to 4 opinion that federal courts may not hear partisan gerrymandering cases. Only state courts may now do so, and now North Carolina's state court has done so. The same court ruled last month that the state's legislative districts were also drawn in violation of the state constitution and ordered new maps there as well.

Meanwhile, speaking of Congress, a White House national security official and decorated Iraq War vet offered startling testimony to House impeachment investigators on Tuesday, regarding Trump's scheme to withhold nearly $400 million in military assistance to Ukraine unless the nation's President promised to investigate Joe Biden in advance of the 2020 election. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman serves as the top Ukraine expert on the White House's National Security Council (NSC) and is the first official to testify in the impeachment matter who actually listened live to Trump's infamous July 25 "I need a favor though" phone call with Ukrainian President Volodmyr Zelensky.

According to Vindman's prepared opening statement obtained by the New York Times, the veteran Army officer and longtime civil servant was so alarmed by Trump's strong-arm tactics and withholding of military aid that, out of a "sense of duty", he alerted the top lawyer at the NSC --- twice --- in order to register internal objections about the policy, which he feared would "undermine national security."

"I am a patriot,” Vindman says in his testimony, "and it is my sacred duty and honor to advance and defend our country irrespective of party or politics." Since news of his testimony broke on Monday night, rightwing media have been attacking the Purple Heart winner who was wounded by an IED in Iraq, as a traitor who must be working for Joe Biden or George Soros or Ukraine, after he fled the then Soviet-controlled country as a 3-year old with his parents in 1979.

Next, were joined by former Asst. U.S. Attorney turned George Washington University Law School professor RANDALL ELIASON to discuss the Republicans' continuing, nonsensical whining that the impeachment inquiry lacks "due process" for the President. Though each of their arguments toward that end have been dismantled by both facts and federal courts in recent days, they are still making the case which Eliason describes as "nonsense" in his latest Washington Post op-ed.

He explains why on today's program, noting the old "saying in Washington, that if you're arguing about process then you're losing," adding: "I think that's certainly the case here." Eliason, a longtime expert in white collar crime, government fraud and federal criminal law, responds to a number of different allegations being offered by Trump and his defenders, including the specious claim that there is no crime at the heart of Trump's quid pro quo pressure campaign against Ukraine.

He also offers his thoughts on the recent news --- and "incredibly suspicious" timing behind it --- that Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has elevated the Dept. of Justice's probe into the origins of the 2016 investigation into Russian election meddling into a criminal investigation of some sort.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on California's wind-drive wildfires, Massachusetts' new climate fraud lawsuit against Exxon Mobil, and Trump's new plan to steal Syria's oil in violation of international law. Also, as we close, late news and a few thoughts on the nation's largest private coal company, Murray Energy, declaring bankruptcy protection today. So much for Trump's promise to save the dirty coal industry. Now, what about the company's long-serving coal miners who may very well lose their pensions and health care under Trump-supporter Robert Murray's scheme to restructure his dying company?...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/29/2019 11:10am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: State of emergency in California, amid massive, wind-driven wildfire outbreak; Massachusetts sues Exxon Mobil over climate fraud; Poll finds Americans want less oil and gas exploration, not more; PLUS: Trump's plan to take Syria's oil has a small problem --- it violates international law... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Coal giant Murray Energy is 8th coal company to declare bankruptcy this year; GM, Toyota side with Trump in CA emissions fight; Secret deal helped housing industry stop tougher rules boosting energy efficiency, disaster resilience; 'Evil economics': Rev. William Barber condemns proposed plastics facility in Cancer Alley; Mars Candy still contributing to rampant deforestation, despite pledge; Global warming will cost rich and poor countries alike; CDC whistleblower says he was told not to use phrase "climate change" after Trump elected.. PLUS: Climate change has set California on fire. Are you paying attention?... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Ann Ravel goes from FEC Commish to CA State Senate candidate, with some thoughts on many criminal violations by the President, and on our broken campaign finance system; Also: Giuliani snowballing...
By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2019 6:44pm PT  

In my exclusive interview on today's BradCast with ANN RAVEL, former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), we cover quite a bit of ground. From the reasons she has decided to run for office in California, to the apparent violations of federal election laws at the heart of the Trump impeachment inquiry into the quid pro quo with Ukraine, to the absurd campaign finance laws that allowed two now-indicted Rudy Giuliani associates to buy their way into the White House and directly effect U.S. foreign policy, to the Stormy Daniels affair, and to our shamefully broken FEC. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Ravel, who also previous served as Chair of California's Fair Political Practices Commission (or FPPC --- a more functional version of the FEC, but for the state of CA) and as Deputy Asst. Attorney General during the early years of the Obama Administration, is now running for State Senate in CA's 15th District, which includes San Jose in the Northern California Bay Area. After a lifelong career of public service, this is her first actual run for elected office.

We begin today's conversation with a few thoughts on the "local" issues regarding Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E)'s preemptive blackouts for hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid their above ground power lines sparking wildfires. The bankrupt for-profit power utility, the state's largest, has been found liable for billions of dollars after several deadly recent fires, thanks to a failure to properly maintain or bury power lines amid increasingly warm and dry climate changed weather. We discuss whether the state should simply take over the company, following Gov. Gavin Newsom's scathing remarks on Thursday citing PG&E's many deadly failures, which he attributed to "dog-eat-dog capitalism and corporate greed meeting climate change."

Then it's on to many issues of national importance --- as highlighted of late by several matters related to Trump's ongoing impeachment inquiry --- regarding our broken FEC, which does not currently even have a quorum of Commissioners to either meet or vote as we head into the most critical election year in the history of our nation!

Ravel, who resigned as FEC Chair "in abrupt and dramatic fashion", according to the Mercury News in February of 2017, "declaring in a public resignation letter that the Federal Election Commission is on a gridlocked road to nowhere," offers her many insights on...

  • Campaign finance laws apparently violated by Trump in soliciting a "thing of value" from a foreign entity. That impeachable and criminal violation of law is at the heart of Trump's attempted withholding of military aid and the strong-arming of Ukraine in exchange for dirt on the Biden family and the 2016 election. "There is no question whatsoever that there was a crime at the heart of this," Ravel tells me. "And I'm appalled, having also been at the Department of Justice at the beginning of the Obama Administration, what has become of a Department that is supposed to be doing justice for the people";
  • Attorney General Bill Barr and the Dept. of Justices' failure to refer that matter, exposed by a whistleblower complaint, to the FEC for civil charges, as per a longstanding agreement between the two federal agencies. "That was the general understanding that always was the principal we operated by at the FEC";
  • The FEC's lack of ability to take immediate action on such a charge, even if it had been referred to them, given the FEC's current lack of a quorum. "Had it been referred as a complaint, that would begin the statute of limitations. And there is a five-year statute. So at some point, assuming there are other Commissioners appointed, ever --- by McConnell, or the Democratic Minority Leader, and assuming that the President makes the nominations --- it could, in the coming five years, actually take some action";
  • The obscene lack of campaign finance laws following Citizens United and other woeful "dark money" rulings from SCOTUS in recent years. Those High Court rulings have allowed men like Rudy Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman to run an influence operation to purchase access to the White House and Republican members of Congress and actually effect U.S. foreign policy in the Ukraine matter in exchange for a few hundred thousands dollars (of unknown origin) given to Trump's SuperPAC, to Giuliani, and to other Republican officials and organizations. While Parnas and Fruman were recently indicted, their charges were based on lying to officials about the source of the money. Had they simply used their own, as we also recently discussed with Brendan Fischer of Campaign Legal Center (which filed the original complaint to the FEC about the pair's donations last year), the influence operation would have been perfectly legal under current law, she confirms. "And that is a whole other problem with our campaign finance system...That will only be fixed if there is a different Supreme Court";
  • Why isn't the case of Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn star Stormy Daniels a bigger matter, given that Trump is known to have "directed" a campaign finance law felony conspiracy in making the payments, and then failed to report them to the FEC as required by law? To Ravel's consternation, Democrats in Congress, to date, have yet to make the matter a central point in their impeachment inquiry, and the short-handed FEC is otherwise unable to bring civil charges for Trump's willful violation of the law. She notes that fines levied against the Obama Campaign years ago were for far less serious violations of campaign finance law. "I often say, to much laughter, that I consider myself an expert in Stormy Daniels. I think this is scandalous. It is a campaign violation, without question, and it was being done at the behest of the President."

Those are just some of the many topics discussed on today's program with Ravel.

Finally, after some breaking news on a ruling late today by a federal judge ordering the DoJ to turn over unredacted grand jury testimony and other materials from the Robert Mueller probe to House Democrats working on impeachment, we take a quick look at the quickly snowballing fate of Rudy Giuliani, who finds himself in deeper and more embarrassing --- and potentially criminal --- straits by the hour. For now, Trump is standing by his man. But probably not for long. So, for a musical close to to the week, we turn to the inimitable Randy Rainbow, who recently threw Rudy entirely under a bus...

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CA fires, private utility blackouts; Wilbur Ross' private email scandal; Giuliani lawyers up; 'Obamacare' prices drop; MA's shameful vaping ban...
By Brad Friedman on 10/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

With a short, semi-pause in the hot impeachment action on Capitol Hill, we take the opportunity on today's BradCast to catch up on a number of non-impeachment related stories (mostly). [Audio link to show follows below.]

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

  • With climate change induced temps soaring, humidity plummeting and hot, nearly hurricane force desert wind gusts buffeting much of the state, wildfires are again breaking out again in both Northern and Southern California, despite the state's several privately-owned for-profit utility companies preemptively shutting down power to as many as half a million customers. That, to avoid still more liability for failing to maintain and/or bury their power lines which have been found as the cause of many recent deadly fires in the global warming-parched state. Gov. Gavin Newsom had some choice words on Thursday about those utility companies, such as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG+E) and Southern California Edison, placing profits over safety for many years in what he blasted as "dog-eat-dog capitalism [and] corporate greed meeting climate change";
  • As the years-long probe by Trump's State Department into the phony "scandal" surrounding Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as Secretary of State finally concluded very quietly last week --- having found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information” --- yet another top Trump Administration official is being investigated for his use of private email accounts to conduct official business. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is at least the 9th senior Trump official who has been revealed to have done so, as he faces both a civil lawsuit over the practice, and as the National Archives and Records Administration has just opened an official probe;
  • In only somewhat impeachment-related news, Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who refused last week to answer a Congressional subpoena from House impeachment investigators while parting ways with his personal attorney, is now said to be looking for a new criminal attorney. The former NYC Mayor is reportedly a person of interest in at least two different federal probes, both criminal and counterintelligence, being carried out by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of NY (the office Giuliani once led as U.S. Attorney);
  • In U.S. healthcare news, open enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act healthcare.gov exchange is set to begin on November 1, with as many as 20 new insurers and an average drop in the cost of premiums of 4%. Despite years of attempts by Republicans and Donald Trump to try and undermine "Obamacare", its marketplace is apparently stabilizing even as a ruling is now pending at any time from a federal appeals court in the GOP challenge to the law seeking to strike down the entire Act as unconstitutional;
  • And, in related-ish news, a court in Massachusetts has temporarily delayed an ill-considered attempt by its Governor to institute the nation's strictest ban on vaping, in supposed response to a recent outbreak of lung injuries, a number of them deadly, due to the use of black-market THC/cannabis vaping cartridges. Gov. Charlie Baker's attempted ban, however, would prevent the sale of all nicotine vaping products, which are not tied to the recent outbreak in any way, thus endangering the lives of an untold number of smokers and former smokers who would be prevented from using life-saving nicotine vapor devices in the state. Shamefully, a number of other states are in the process of implementing similarly deadly bans, thanks in no small part to horrifically irresponsible media coverage that has equated safe nicotine vaping (and safe marijuana vaping in locations where it is both legal and regulated) with the use of contaminated black-market THC vaping devices;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more on the disgraceful and dangerous California private utilities power blackouts, the deadly costs of Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards, and Congressional testimony from former Exxon scientists who detail how the oil giant spent decades and millions of dollars lying to the public about climate change...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 10/24/2019 11:28am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California utilities announce more widespread pre-emptive blackouts; Trump's rollbacks of clean air standards are killing Americans; U.S. Supreme Court refuses to block climate liability lawsuit; PLUS: Former Exxon scientists confirm oil giant lied about climate science... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says; The eco-conscious corporations funding climate doom; Trump administration unveils new water rules for California; Trump Admin Sues California Over Cap-And-Trade Agreement With Canada; Ocean acidification can cause mass extinctions, fossils reveal; Southwest tribes oppose spent nuclear fuel storage plans; Ex-CEO and ex-prisoner Blankenship making presidential bid... PLUS: ExxonMobil CEO Depressed After Realizing Earth Could End Before They Finish Extracting All The Oil... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Election Integrity advocate Jennifer Cohn; Also: Judge blocks FL GOP's attempt to disenfranchise felons (for now); MO's largest county finally moves to hand-marked paper ballots!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2019 6:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the catch-up work continues! In the week since returning from my month-long forced hiatus due to a family emergency, we've been so busy with Donald Trump's insanity and impeachment inquiry and withdrawal of troops from Syria and attempt to award himself the contract for the G7 Summit at his own Florida resort (which he retracted over the weekend under pressure from Republicans), that we haven't had any time to discuss concerns about "Plan B". Specifically, concerns about voting systems in a whole bunch of states and counties where elections officials are, insanely, moving towards vulnerable, 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of 2020. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We make up for a month's worth of lost time on today's show. But first, some actually encouraging news out of two different states. On Friday, a federal court judge placed a temporary injunction on Florida's new Republican-adopted law that prevents former felons from registering to vote, unless they've paid off all court-imposed fines and fees first. The judge ruled the GOP law, enacted by state lawmakers just after state voters overwhelmingly adopted a new Constitutional amendment to re-enfranchise former felons last November, essentially amounts to an unconstitutional poll tax. The ruling, for now, is limited and has a few caveats, but voting rights activists are hailing the decision.

In still more good news for voters, this time in Missouri, the St. Louis County Board of Elections last month (where I was born and raised), unanimously voted to move the state's largest county to a new, hand-marked paper ballot system for all voters, other than those disabled voters who choose to use an assistive electronic system, beginning this November. The move comes as a welcome safeguard for voters after the County allowed voters over the past decade to choose between touchscreens or hand-marked paper ballots at the polls, while subtly (and not-so-subtly) encouraging voters to use the unverifiable touchscreens. That good news would also make my late father very happy, given that he was also a proponent for hand-marked paper ballots, as made clear in an amusing 2006 BRAD BLOG entry, which we share on today's show.

The move in St. Louis, however, is contrary to similar choices being made in a number of key jurisdictions around the country, where officials are moving to unverifiable and hackable BMD systems before 2020. States such as Georgia, South Carolina, Delaware, and New Jersey are moving to these expensive and vulnerable systems, as well as key cities and counties in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia!), North Carolina (Mecklenberg County, the state's most populous) and California (Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous!)

We're joined today by journalist, attorney, Election Integrity advocate and Twitter activist JENNIFER COHN --- who has a new video presentation out today on the many concerns about private voting system vendors who have taken over our public elections, and on the desperate need for hand-marked paper ballots --- in hopes of beginning to catch up on much of the voting system news we missed over the past month!

Unfortunately, as Cohn details, other than in St. Louis, the outlook is pretty grim between now and next year, as even leading Democrats (hello, Sen. Amy Klobuchar!) seem to have a very difficult time fighting for the real security improvements necessary to protect our election system from adversaries --- both foreign and domestic --- before next year's critical Presidential election.

Cohn makes the crucial point that phrases other than "HAND-MARKED paper ballots" are, essentially, code words for unverifiable, hackable, computer-marked paper ballot summaries. Phrases often used by vendors, as well as election and elected official to confuse voters include: Voter-marked paper ballots, voter-verifiable (as opposed to veriFIED) paper ballots, back-up paper ballots (hello again, Sen. Klobuchar!) or simply "paper ballots", without using "hand-marked" before it. If you don't hear them say "hand-marked" first, they either don't know what they're talking about, or they're trying to put something over on you.

And, as Cohn notes, if they promise post-election audits to protect the integrity of the vote, but are doing so without using hand-marked paper ballots to "audit" with, they are also trying to scam you. At least according to the actual inventor of the post-election Risk-Limited Audit (RLA) protocol, Prof. Phil Stark of UC-Berkley, an opponent of universal use BMDs. He describes RLAs of computer-marked ballots as "worthless" and little more than putting "lipstick on a pig"...

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

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