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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 24, 2019
NC Elections Board Ignores Voters, Approves Touchscreen Barcode Ballot System: 'BradCast' 8/23/19
Guest: Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB's new cancer; Trump blows up markets, China trade war...
Ransomware Attack Hits 22 TX Cities. Why Worry About 2020?: 'BradCast' 8/22/19
Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
'Green News Report' 8/22/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic; Salmon dying in hot Alaskan rivers; Swedish teen climate activist sails for US on solar boat; PLUS: 2020 climate candidate drops out...
Previous GNRs: 8/20/19 - 8/15/19 - Archives...
GOP Website 'Political Malware' Exposed as NC Special Elections Begin: 'BradCast' 8/21/19
Guest: Bill 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Greenland debacle; More Trump-fueled domestic terror...
The Domestic Terror Mass Shootings by White American Men That DIDN'T Happen Last Week: 'BradCast' 8/20/19
Also: Trump cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz' advice to Dems on discussing climate...
'Green News Report' 8/20/19
Newark lead crisis; U.S. fracking causes spike methane emissions; Air pollution like a pack of cigarettes a day; PLUS: End the Senate filibuster to save the climate?...
Multipartisan Petition Effort to Recall Alaska's New GOP Governor Catches Fire: 'BradCast' 8/19/19
Guest: AK Dem Party's Jeanne Devon; Also: GA voters mandate new voting system review...
Sunday Big Baby Toons!
You'll laugh, you'll cry -- you may even get rattled -- by PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Officials Scramble As Election Software Goes Obsolete, Election Servers Discovered Online: 'BradCast' 8/16/19
Guest: Kim Zetter on voting systems found connected to the Internet and vendor denial...
'Green News Report' 8/15/19
Warming-fueled algae blooms killing dogs; Big Oil pushing plastic; Plastic found falling in Arctic snow; PLUS: Dem states sue to stop Trump EPA's dirty power plan...
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...


Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we catch up with a grab bag of stuff, most of which doesn't have to do with Donald Trump's idiocy --- you're welcome --- but a lot of which has to do with what Americans need to do about him! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

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

  • The front page of the New York Times now, officially, looks like a pre-2016 parody of what the Times might look like if Donald Trump were ever elected President;
  • Denmark still doesn't want to sell Greenland to the US. Why, after all, would its citizens want to give up "universal health care, free higher education, five weeks of annual paid vacation and 12 months of paid parental leave, subsidized childcare and more"? But the Premier of Greenland is, however, interested in buying the U.S.!;
  • Two-term WA state Governor Jay Inslee, the climate change candidate, drops out of the 2020 Presidential race, but accomplished quite a bit and will now run for a third term as WA Governor;
  • Former CO Governor John Hickenlooper, who dropped out of the Presidential contest a week or so ago, announces his run for U.S. Senate to take on vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in an already very crowded field of Dems vying for the nomination. (But, ahem....hint, hint, O'Rourke, Castro and Bullock!);
  • And, on the Republican side of the aisle, "reformed" Tea Party Republican and former one-term House Rep. Joe Walsh appears set to announce plans to primary Trump from the right next year. If his recent, blistering NYTimes op-ed is any indication, in which he eviscerates Trump for, well, just about everything, he would be a welcome participant along with already-declared former MA Gov. Bill Weld and a few other potential GOP challengers that may be coming soon;
  • In more disturbing and much-less noticed news, 22 Texas towns have been simultaneously crippled by coordinated ransomware attacks that have shut down all computerized city services. The hackers are demanding some $2.5 million to restore services to the unidentified towns which may all have used the same private contractor for municipal IT services. The attack-via-contractor is reminiscent of the 2016 spearphishing attack on voter registration services vendor VR Systems as described in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report. That attack appears to have resulted in penetration of voter registration databases in several Florida counties in 2016, and perhaps other states (such as North Carolina) serviced by the same private vendor.

    But, sadly, none of this has prevented states and counties around the country from moving swiftly to fully-computerized voting and tabulation systems, as well as computerized electronic pollbooks (all frequently serviced by a small group of private contractors) as we move toward the critical 2020 elections. If those any of those thousands of jurisdictions whose poling places now rely on such automated systems on Election Day --- often without paper backup for ballots or pollbooks --- were to be similarly crippled by a ransomware attack on or before Election Day, the result would be unimaginable chaos next year. But how likely is that, really? Why worry?;

  • Some voters in Georgia are, in fact, very worried, and justifiably so, about the state's newly certified, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems now planned for first-time use in 2020. As we reported on the show a few days ago, those voters have invoked a little-known provision in GA's election code to demand a reexamination of the new systems which the state certified just weeks ago. The multipartisan voters charge Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger violated state requirements in his initial certification, and failed to do any security testing at all. The Sec. of State's office now says the petitioners, who prefer state voters use verifiable hand-marked paper ballots systems, simply disagree with the "policy preferences" of the Georgia General Assembly and must pay the costs for the second examination themselves;
  • In similar-ish news here in Los Angeles County --- the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, which is also planning to move to new, 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices for the 2020 election --- the county's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan is refusing to answer questions by voters on Twitter as to whether they will be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots at the polling place this year. That has been a mandate by the CA Sec. of State for many years.

    Also, Logan has similarly failed to respond for several days to a generous offer by legendary Finnish cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Harri Hursti to examine the county's new, never-before-used-in-any-election BMD systems for security concerns. Hursti, the first to have hacked a Diebold voting system over a decade ago, runs the now-infamous annual Voting Village event at the DefCon hackers convention in Las Vegas --- where, year after year after year, enormous vulnerabilities are discovered in every voting system put before the attendees. Despite Hursti's offer, Logan has not responded to it via Twitter.

    Why has the previously communicative Logan gone so mum? He has been very outspoken on Twitter in the past, and still seems to have no problem citing L.A. Times stories about his new system there. (Perhaps because those stories shamefully fail to mention any of the many security and verifiability concerns about them, as cited by cybersecurity and voting systems experts.) Why is Logan, a long time, usually quite responsive and responsible election official no longer answering questions from his voters and media about such a huge sea-change in voting for some five million L.A. County voters?;

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on record wildfires from the Amazon to the Arctic, record Alaskan heat killing salmon in the rivers, Jay Inslee's exit and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's imminent U.S. arrival...by solar-powered boat.

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

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Also: Trump reverses, cow-tows to NRA on gun reform; Luntz offers advice to Dems on how to discuss climate...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2019 6:20pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Our cowardly President couldn't even make it to the end of his summer vacation before flip-flopping on promised (if tepid) gun safety reforms following the two mass shooting massacres that killed 32 in El Paso and Dayton just two weeks ago. During that vacation Donald Trump reportedly met with NRA boss Wayne LaPierre who straightened him out, and Republicans in Congress decided to blame "mental illness" and "the left" are actually to blame for mass shootings, not the rightwing white supremacists, domestic terrorists or the military assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines they use to kill --which are nearly as easy to buy in much of the country as milk and eggs at the grocery store. [Audio link to show follows below.]

In just the past week, at least five different potential mass shootings by white American male rightwingers appear to have been prevented, thanks to tips to law enforcement from the public. Among those arrested over the past week and found with huge caches of military hardware, thousands of rounds of ammo, and threats against immigrants, jews, African-Americans, trans people and Planned Parenthood among others (ya know, folks often targeted by "the left"):

Again, all of those stories broke within the past week alone. But, other than that, sure, "the left" is to blame for America's domestic terrorism crisis.

To his credit, Rep. Pete King of New York, on Monday, became the first and, so far only, GOPer in the House to join 200 Democrats in co-sponsoring a bill that would ban assault weapons once and for all. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, of course, has vowed to make sure the measure never sees the light of day in the Senate and Trump...well, of course, he is opposed, because it would mean actual reform that flies in the face of their benefactors at the terrorist-enabling NRA.

In other news of Republicans showing the smallest signs of willingness to do the right thing for the nation --- but we'll take it where we can find it --- longtime Republican pollster and operative Frank Luntz recently testified in the U.S. Senate that he is now willing to help Democrats fight against the climate crisis, after his home almost burned down in a California wildfire. Luntz is responsible for an infamous 2001 memo to Republicans explaining what language they should use to avoid action on the global warming climate crisis. Now, he says, he has changed and is offering advice to Democrats on language that he says will help convince the American people that urgent action is needed. We discuss his advice and his suggested language.

Finally today, Desi Doyen brings us the latest Green News Report with bad news on Newark's lead contamination water crisis; bad news on a global methane emissions spike due to U.S. fracking and Trump rollbacks to Obama restrictions; bad news on air pollution; and an aggressive --- if potentially perilous --- proposal from a Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate on action to solve the climate crisis...

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 8/20/2019 11:15am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another major city suffers a lead contamination crisis; U.S. fracking boom causing a spike in global methane emissions; Long-term exposure to air pollution like smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, says new report; PLUS: 2020 Democratic candidate warns Senate filibuster must end to solve the climate crisis... 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): Earth’s future is being written in fast-melting Greenland; Why do American cities fail to protect our water?; Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sues to shut Dakota Pipeline as company plans to double capacity; Iceland holds funeral for first glacier lost to climate change; Trump's rollback of auto pollution rules shows signs of disarray; Coal reclamation funds dwindle while Congress dawdles; 4 last wolves in Washington pack killed by state hunters... PLUS: Climate Refugia: Scientists search for safe havens for vulnerable species... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




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...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) 'hopes' newest SCOTUS Justice was 'completely forthright with U.S. Senate during confirmation', says House Judiciary 'proceeding in the nature of an Impeachment Inquiry' on Trump; Also: Prez uses visits to Dayton, El Paso to attack Dems...
By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2019 6:35pm PT  

Hey! Remember Brett Kavanaugh? The Donald Trump SCOTUS appointee who demonstrably lied during his sworn U.S. Senate Confirmation hearings last year before Republicans voted to ram him through to a lifetime appointment on the highest court in the land, anyway? Yeah, we do too. Thankfully, so does our guest on today's BradCast who, as a member of Congress, can actually maybe --- just maybe --- do something to finally bring some accountability there. And, according to a letter signed by him and House Judiciary Committee Chair Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) on Tuesday, there is now evidence that they intend to try and do just that! [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today, NBC News nailed it in a headline we saw only after getting off air today: "Trump turns day of grieving for shooting victims into day of grievances". That about sums it up. On Monday, in a scripted teleprompter speech, the President responded to the two weekend gun massacres that took the lives of at least 31 in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio by asking Americans "to set destructive partisanship aside...and find the courage to answer hatred with unity, devotion and love". But, just over 24 hours later, he began to unleash various attacks on Democrats Beto O'Rourke, Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, former Vice President Joe Biden, and even managed to tie Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren somehow to the shooter in Dayton. All of that before, during and after what were supposed to be Presidential visits to the two recovering cities, intended to console them and help ease their pain after the twin tragedies.

On Tuesday night, Trump first broke his call for setting aside partisanship with a misfired Twitter snipe at El Paso native Beto O'Rourke's name, in which he told the former Texas Congressman to "be quiet!" after O'Rourke accurately tied the El Paso shooter's white supremacist diatribe to Trump's identical references to an "invasion" at our southern border. But on Wednesday morning, before leaving for his trips to the two grieving cities, he told reports at the White House that he felt his "rhetoric brings people together" and he "would like to stay out of the political fray." That vow didn't even last until he arrived in El Paso, with his new Twitter attacks emanating even while he was on Air Force One.

But in news today that is much less insane, we are joined by REP. HANK JOHNSON (D-GA), a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and Chair of its Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. That subcommittee oversees the federal court system, including the U.S. Supreme Court. On Tuesday, Johnson and Nadler sent a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration requesting records from Justice Kavanaugh's tenure in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration, when he first served in the White House Counsel's office from 2001 to 2003 and then as White House Staff Secretary from 2003 to 2006.

The request includes thousands of documents either never reviewed or never requested by then-U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) during Kavanaugh's SCOTUS confirmation process last year. While Grassley requested no documents at all from Kavanaugh's tenure as Staff Secretary --- during which many decisions were discussed and made in the run-up to Iraq War and about the torture and detention of suspect terrorists and prisoners of war --- thousands of documents from Kavanaugh's time in the White House Counsel's office were withheld from the Senate Judiciary panel last year after they were privately reviewed by Kavanaugh's own personal attorney.

Johnson explains why Democrats are now seeking all of those records, what they hope to find, and what they may do with the information they unearth from them on the Committee which has jurisdiction to launch impeachment proceedings for all federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Trump Administration will attempt to block the records request, which asserts the rights of the Committee to review the documents under the Presidential Records Act of 1975. If they are blocked, Johnson tells me, they are prepared to take additional measures to obtain the records. The Georgia Congressman also responds in detail to a number of my questions including whether he supports an expansion of the U.S. Supreme Court in order to unpack the Republican's currently stolen majority; why he is not currently among the majority of House Dems publicly calling to open an official Impeachment Inquiry in his Judiciary Committee; and what he thinks of his home state of Georgia's current plan to move from one 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to an all new, if equally unverifiable touchscreen voting system --- rather than a cheaper, verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system --- before next year's crucial 2020 Presidential election in a state that many believe may finally be ready to flip "blue" after years of GOP dominance in the state.

On what he hopes to find in Kavanaugh's records from the George W. Bush years: "I hope to discover that Justice Kavanaugh has been completely forthright and honest with the U.S. Senate during his confirmation process. Moreover, I hope to find that the conduct of Justice Kavanaugh, during his time as Secretary with the Office of Counsel for the President, at all times conducted himself in a way that would be in keeping with that of someone who now serves on the U.S. Supreme court with a lifetime tenure. And, of course, that is only subject to the House's ability to impeach, should there be a need for it. The American people deserve to know who we have on the US Supreme Court, what his background is, and if he was honest with the Senate in his confirmation proceedings."

On expanding the stolen SCOTUS: "It's no question that the courts have been stacked with judges with a particular political bent...They are holding the future back, and it's hurting America. So we, as the legislative branch, with the power to expand the Supreme Court --- nothing in the Constitution says that it will be a Court of nine Justices --- so we have to look at whether or not its in the efficiency of our process that we need to expand the Court. We really don't need to politicize the courts. But unfortunately the courts have been politicized. So the question is, what do we do? And how will the Supreme Court react to the fact that the legislative branch is open to looking at alternatives to the current way that it does business?"

On why Johnson is not currently among the majority of Dems in the House publicly calling for an official Impeachment Inquiry: He stands by his current position (despite my generous offer to allow him to make news by changing it on today's BradCast), while explaining, "We are proceeding in the nature of an impeachment inquiry at this time, and we're doing so without calling it an impeachment inquiry so as not to put the 31 red-to-blue winners in 2018, new Democrats, not to put them in jeopardy of not being able to come back and keep us in the majority in 2020. ... At some point we may accumulate the record that we can then pass the impeachment resolutions on and then proceed to the evidence --- not just the Mueller Report, but the evidence... take that over to the US Senate and have a trial. " After I press him a bit on his current position, he concedes: "I tell you what --- if you call me back in about two or three months, maybe I will have changed on impeachment."

And, finally, on Georgia's Republican Governor and Sec. of State defying cybersecurity experts to move from one unverifiable touchscreen voting system to another: "I think the way to go is to have hand-marked paper ballots that are then scanned into a counting machine and counted. And then you have the paper ballots that you can test the results of the tally machine against, and that way, you can have a verifiable vote. ... But we cannot do it on this new system that the Georgia legislature has authorized. I think it is a $125 or $150 million dollar expenditure that will be for a system that we can't even rely on. I think it's bad for the taxpayers, it's bad for the voters, it's bad for democracy, and it's a bad move for Georgia."

He offers much more on all of the above, so I hope you'll tune in to listen to today's BradCast...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/6/2019 11:29am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Historic ice melt in Greenland raises worldwide sea levels; We've all just lived through the hottest month ever recorded on Planet Earth; PLUS: CNN's 2020 Democratic Presidential debate, for the first time, covered climate change and climate action in-depth... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): We must change food production to save the world, says leaked report; Top climate scientist quits USDA, alleging political suppression; Who will pay for the huge costs of holding back rising seas?; Climate liability lawsuits are on the rise; N.J. lakes closed due to toxic algae blooms; El Paso suspect’s alleged manifesto highlights eco-fascism’s revival; U.S. has lost 24 million acres of natural land in 16 years; As Gulf Stream cools and weakens, what’s in store for Florida?; Heat headache for 2020 planners as Tokyo swelters a year before Olympic Games... PLUS: The new ruins of the melting Alps... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




On the weekend massacres in El Paso and Dayton; And Georgia Tech cybersecurity expert Rich DeMillo on the recent Senate Intelligence Comm. report on Russia interference in 2016 and the fight to secure 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2019 7:04pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open with the grim weekend news of the two gun massacres in El Paso, Texas and in Dayton, Ohio, which collectively resulted in at least 30 killed and some four dozen others wounded, before moving to yet another issue of national security being avoided by most Republicans and the White House. [Audio link to show is posted at bottom of article.]

The two domestic terror events in TX and OH, each carried out in minutes by white American men with semi-automatic military-style assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, has once again spurred calls for legislative action by Democrats in Congress and the avoidance of same by the terrorist-enabling, NRA-captured Republican officials.

In addition, Donald Trump spent about 48 hours following the El Paso shooting hoping to avoid the fact that the 21-year old man who carried it out had reportedly driven from his home in Dallas to target immigrants in the border town. An online manifesto attributed to the white nationalist shooter, echoing language and racism frequently used by Trump, describes an "invasion" of Hispanic immigrants. "El Paso and Dayton make 251 mass shootings in the US in 216 days, more shootings than days in the year," notes USA Today.

The incidents also serve as the latest to highlight shameful GOP hypocrisy on matters of national security. Over the past two decades, the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars under the guise of "national security", even as the focus on international terrorism has resulted in several acute issues of national security such as climate change, gun violence by domestic terrorists, and election security being all but ignored by Republicans. That, even as the public has been asked to sacrifice one freedom after another under disingenuous claims of "national security" while the country has been bankrupted both financially and morally in the bargain.

The latest massacres and lack of willingness by Republicans to take action and confront a real and growing national security threat, is also echoed in their lack of action regarding security in our elections, the only means by which the public may actually hold their failed, hypocritical, and corrupt elected officials accountable. But a week or so ago there was a glimmer of hope, sort of, when the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan --- if absurdly redacted --- report on election security [PDF], concluding that election systems in all 50 states were targeted by Russia in 2016. At the same time, the report states that "the Committee has seen no indications that votes were changed" or that "vote-tallying systems were manipulated".

Then again, as we've take great pains to report in detail since 2016, nobody, to our knowledge --- including the FBI, DHS, Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office or even local and state officials --- has actually bothered to look! Calls for hand-counts of hand-marked paper ballots and forensic analyses of electronic voting systems were blocked after the 2016 election in many states, including Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania which each are said to have flipped to the Republican Presidential candidate that year by incredibly narrow, unverified margins, for the first time in decades. The Senate Intelligence Committee report suggests that while foreign actors were able to gain access to the nation's voting systems and voter registration databases, they took no action to modify them in any way. Really?

We're joined today by cybersecurity and voting system expert RICH DEMILLO, formerly the Chief Technology Officer for Hewlett-Packard, now Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech, where he served as Dean and director of their Information Security Center. DeMillo shares his takeaways from what he describes as a "frustrating" Senate report, which appears to both pull punches and hide much of both its findings and recommendations behind redactions. "There is just a massive amount of evidence that not only were the systems targeted, and in some cases penetrated, but it would take an extraordinarily altruistic spy to resist the opportunity of doing something nasty once they got into these systems," he tells me. "Not going that final step, which is relatively risk-free, of carrying out the mission that you were there to accomplish, just seems to me to strain credibility."

DeMillo, who has co-authored a number of landmark studies on the many dangers posed by the 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) now being deployed before the 2020 election to places like Georgia, Philadelphia, Los Angeles County as well as counties in other key battle-ground states like Ohio, North Carolina and Texas, warns that our vulnerable voting systems are, indeed, an issue of "national security".

"We're in an era where the tools can be turned against the citizens," he cautions. "Where the results of an election in an entire jurisdiction can be changed with literally the flip of a switch." DeMillo, who now serves on the board of the Verified Voting Foundation, is a supporter of hand-marked paper ballots as the only known type of verifiable voting and (like me) is dubious about the push to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for new "upgraded" computer voting systems. "It's like buying better filters for cigarettes," he says.

And while there are still no federal mandatory standards for voting systems (only voluntary guidelines last updated by the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission in 2005!), the "real obvious vulnerability" to the systems comes from election insiders, local and state officials and contractors hired to program and maintain the systems. "Even in the face of arguments from election officials that 'we vet our people, we do background checks,' every time we look under those covers, what we find is that there's almost no due diligence that's taking place. That the people that we entrust with these systems, in the first place, don't understand the systems, have never been briefed on the threats, and we have no idea what their background and motivations are."

He cites the story we broke on the program last week based on testimony from an official in the Georgia Secretary of State's office who conceded on the witness stand the week before in a federal court hearing that all voting machines in the state are programmed by three outside contractors "in their garage." That new revelation of outsourcing from the ongoing federal lawsuit challenging the security and Constitutionality of the state's unverifiable touchscreen systems underscores that "everything they tell you about the security of their infrastructure, and how well they vet against the insider threat, turns out not to be the case. And that story is repeated over and over again around the country."

DeMillo also relates the story of the "ruckus" he recently caused on social media when relaying a conversation with election officials in a largely rural state "who just happened to mention in an open meeting that the computers that they use to program their ballots were housed on laptop computers that were in the houses of people, without any security clearances, no special security infrastructure. In fact, they were in places where the Internet connections were so bad that some of those people had to go to the local Starbucks in order to connect to the internet." He says his "jaw dropped to the floor" when he learned that many of those officials were programming their voting machines and tabulators on wide open, completely unsecured public networks.

Finally, DeMillo goes on to offer some advice on how to "move the needle" in the continuing fight by election integrity advocates to secure our elections by using systems that can actually be overseen by the public, slamming those --- from Congress to state and local officials to academics to private voting system vendors --- who believe that secrecy and "security by obscurity" can actually work to protect the heartbeat of our nation's fragile and more-threatened-than-ever system of representative democracy...

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Guests: David Dayen and Jacki Schechner on surprises from Wed. night, clarity on real 'costs' of Medicare-for-All, thoughts on Yang's plan for $1000/month Universal Basic Income, and Harris' record as CA AG...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2019 4:53pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage --- and a lot of smart information --- on Night Two of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate in Detroit, as hosted by CNN. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

The ten candidates featured during the second night's combative, two-and-a-half-hour long festivities were: former Vice President Joe Biden; CA Sen. Kamala Harris; NJ Sen. Cory Booker; entrepreneur Andrew Yang; Former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; HI Rep. Tulsi Gabbard; WA state Gov. Jay Inslee; CO Sen. Michael Bennet and NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio.

As during night one, the broad array of topics about which CNN's moderators worked hard to create confrontation between the candidates included healthcare (again leading the debate at the top and in the length of time spent on the issue), immigration, race, the climate crisis, the economy, foreign policy and, unlike the first night, even a question or two on how the candidates might take on Donald Trump and whether he should be held accountability for his crimes with impeachment.

Biden, the perceived front-runner, seemed at least slightly more prepared and less frail than in his first outing during the June debate in Miami, while finding his policies as a Senator over the last many decades and as President Obama's Veep sharply attacked by a number of the other participants. For her part, Harris --- who seemed to get the best of Biden in a number of exchanges during the June forum, seeing her fortunes rise thereafter --- was met with tough attacks from both Biden and several of the other candidates hoping to grab the spotlight. Booker stood out in a number of exchanges, including several with the former Vice President. Other candidates had their moments as well, as we discuss, even as the field for the next debates in September may now be cut by half or more.

We're joined today, once again, by two guests for our special coverage. Journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER is back with us again today, and we're also joined by prolific investigative financial journalist and award-winning author DAVID DAYEN, who now also serves as Executive Editor for The American Prospect.

Their smart analysis and insight today focuses on, among other things...

  • Whether CNN improved on its questioning and format for night two after facing sharp criticism for their opening round on Tuesday (Schechner saw moderate improvement, Dayen saw none);
  • which candidates, if any, stood out over their past performances (Booker and Inslee receive the most noteworthy nods on that score);
  • whether or not proposals by a number of the more progressive candidates for a Medicare-for-All style single-payer universal coverage system is actually affordable, or if the more modest proposals to build on the existing Affordable Care Act with a so-called "Public Option", as sought by the more conservative candidates like Biden, is actually more realistic. (Dayen describing the "entire conversation about costs" as "a complete red herring", offers a more concise, clear answer to that question than any of the 20 candidates over the past two nights! In short, he explains: "A Medicare For All system would save money. We know that because the Koch-funded Mercatus Center, which put together the very study that Joe Biden and these others are quoting, said that a system where the government would cover all medical costs would actually cost $32 trillion dollars over a ten-year period, but doing nothing right now would cost Americans, through their total national health expenditures, $34 trillion. So the overall savings to America from moving into a single payer system is two trillion dollars over ten years.");
  • how Democrats seem to be pulling their punches when it comes to one of the largest cost drivers of healthcare;
  • whether debates over these weedy details are helpful or even necessary right now, or if they should take a back seat for the moment to the question of who can best defeat Donald Trump in 2020. (The conversation now simply "muddies the waters" and is "totally unecessary," Shechner argues. "We need to bring this up to a higher level at this point, and say, 'You're going to have a choice in the election between somebody who wants to do something about the broken healthcare system and somebody who doesn't care about the broken healthcare system, has no plan for it, has no interest in fixing it, and is simply interested in dismantling anything that President Obama put into place.")
  • how Yang's interesting proposal for a $1000/month Universal Basic Income for every American would (or wouldn't) actually work;
  • and a number of concerns about Harris' record as CA's Attorney General before she became a U.S. Senator. That as she cited her record as a prosecutor taking on the Big Banks during her closing statement on Wednesday night.

All of that and much more is covered during our lively --- and, I believe, quite enlightening --- conversation on today's BradCast special coverage...

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

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Guests: Jacki Schechner and David Faris on CNN's misfires, the party's divides, the candidates' substantive policies and the necessity of fearlessness in winning and taking down Donald Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 7/31/2019 4:01pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Special coverage of Night One of the second 2020 Democratic Presidential debate. This one was broadcast from the Fox Theater in Detroit and hosted by CNN. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Featured on the first night's debate stage were VT Sen. Bernie Sanders; MA Sen. Elizabeth Warren; South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg; MN Senator Amy Klobuchar; former MD Rep. John Delaney; OH Rep. Tim Ryan; former CO Gov. John Hickenlooper; former TX Rep. Beto O'Rourke; MT Gov. Steve Bullock (in his first Dem Debate appearance) and author/spiritual guru Marianne Williamson.

The lively and often substantive debate was, nonetheless, frequently truncated by CNN moderators, who seemed to work hard to force confrontation between the candidates, while framing many of the evening's debate topics as if they were Republican talking points and otherwise trying to highlight the divide between the progressive and conservative wings of the party. Among the many issues raised during the two and a half hour debate on Tuesday night were healthcare (a nearly 25 minute discussion, highlighting the party's many different and often controversial approaches to achieving universal coverage, from 'Medicare-for-All' to the Public Option, and their effects on private insurance), immigration, gun safety legislation (and the corporate forces that prevent it and many of the other issues discussed), the climate crisis, issues regarding race, the economy, the cost of college and student loans, foreign policy and nuclear weapons, and --- one of many Rightwing memes that CNN seemed to be pushing throughout the evening: whether the Democratic Party has moved too far to the Left.

We're joined today for discussion on as many of the above matters as we can fit in --- as well as some thoughts on what was not covered --- by journalist, former CNN producer and healthcare reform expert JACKIE SCHECHNER and Roosevelt University political scientist and contributor at The Week, DAVID FARIS, author of the recently published book, It's Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics.

Each offer smart analysis and insight on the substantive policy issues raised last night, as well as both the political and media aspects of night one of the latest two night Democratic debate, some six months before voting is set to begin next February at the Iowa Caucuses...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/30/2019 10:46am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: California wins, Trump loses as four major automakers make a deal on fuel-efficient cars; Two cable networks to host climate change town halls for 2020 presidential candidates; Study finds just talking about climate change makes a difference; PLUS: Republican pollster Frank Luntz has a change of heart on the climate crisis... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Where will the West's next deadly wildfire strike?; How the Trump Administration trampled science in the rush to drill in the Arctic; 2020 Democrats put climate justice front and center ahead of debates; Stopping climate change will never be 'good business'; Farmers reckon with new climate reality in the heartland; Africa's largest wind power project is now open in Kenya; New report shows how many environmental activists are killed each week... PLUS: How investors got a heads-up on EPA's Pebble mine reversal... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




In nearly seven hours of long-awaited, halting responses from the former Special Counsel, the need for impeachment became clearer than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 7/24/2019 5:39pm PT  

As documented by today's BradCast special coverage, former FBI Director Robert Mueller finally offered his long-awaited testimony in the U.S. House during nearly 7 hours of hearings before both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

The Republican former Special Counsel confirmed key details of his two-volume, 448-page report [PDF] on Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election, the Trump Campaign's coordination with that effort and, in most detail, multiple instances of both indictable and impeachable criminal corruption of justice laid out by the report. In frequently halting and often terse responses to members of the two House panels, Mueller, as promised, refused to stray from the "four corners" of his report, issued earlier this year following his two-year probe.

Nonetheless, as heard on today's program, his responses made clear that both Donald Trump and Attorney General Bill Barr --- not to mention the bulk of the Republican Party and their rightwing media outlets --- have been completely misleading the American public with their claims that Mueller's report somehow "exonerated" the President. It did anything but.

"Did you actually totally exonerate the President?" Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler asked during his opening round of questions. "No," Mueller flatly replied, later adding that "the President was not exculpated for the acts that he alleged committed." When Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chair of the Intel Committee, asked, "Your investigation is not a witch hunt, is it?," Mueller dryly responded: "It is not a witch hunt."

In fact, as Mueller's testimony made clear to those who watched --- especially to those who didn't bother to read his actual report --- any other American who committed the crimes detailed in the Special Counsel's report would have been indicted on multiple felony counts, as more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors have now stated. But for the Dept. of Justice Office of Legal Counsel's (unsupportable) opinion that a sitting President cannot be indicted, Trump would most likely have been charged long ago for his repeated, unlawful attempts to quash the Special Counsel's investigation.

Moreover, near the close of today's long hearings, Mueller offered a chilling warning about what he describes as still-ongoing efforts by Russia and other foreign powers, "as we sit here", to interfere with and manipulate upcoming U.S. elections.

We hold most of the commentary and analysis on all of this for another day in order to bring you extended excerpts on today's program from the detailed questions and answers with members of Congress from both parties and in both the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. If you weren't able to catch seven hours of hearings beginning at 8:30am ET on a work day, we'll get you fairly well caught up on the key through-line and the most noteworthy stuff in just under an hour. You're welcome!

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

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President's comments wreak havoc in India, stun Afghanistan; Brexit Boris to be new UK PM; Trump budget agreement balloons his record deficit spending; GOPers killing thousands by undermining ACA...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2019 6:26pm PT  

Donald Trump is, apparently, not content with just breaking America. Now he seems desperate to break the entire world. Also, back home, the lie of Republican "conservatism" is revealed, yet again, to be little more than a marketing gimmick for the party. Unfortunately, it also turns out to be deadly.

Among the stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link to show posted below]...

  • An apparent lie Donald Trump told on Monday about India's Prime Minister asking for his help to mediate the years-long Pakistan/India dispute over the Kashmir region, resulted in chaos and outrage in the Indian Parliament on Tuesday;
  • At the same White House press avail with Pakistan's Prime Minister on Monday, Donald Trump also boasted how he "has plans" that, if he wanted to, "Afghanistan would be wiped off the face of the earth" in "literally ten days". Benevolently, however, he added that he just doesn't "want to kill ten million people". The remarks do not appear to be going over well in Afghanistan;
  • With Trump's great foreign policy successes, the Conservative Party in the UK has selected the Trumpiest character they could find to be their next Prime Minister after three years of failed Brexit efforts. Boris Johnson will now replace the outgoing Theresa May in that post and, after being a key supporter of Brexit, Johnson vows he will pull the UK out of the European Union, "do or die", by October 31st. That, even if it means leaving without an agreement with the EU, no matter how much havoc would almost certainly ensue thereafter;
  • Back at home, Trump's Swamp gets swampier still as Mark Esper, the longtime lobbyist for defense contractor Raytheon, is confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be our new Defense Secretary. There may be an upside, however, but if so, he probably won't last long;
  • GOP "conservatism" was revealed, yet again, for the joke that it has long been, as the Trump Administration and Congressional Democrats agreed on Monday night to a two-year budget accord that will increase spending by some $320 billion and avoid further debt-ceiling battles until 2021, the first year of the next Presidential Administration. With that agreement --- presuming Fox and friends don't convince Trump to reverse himself again --- record debt and deficit will continue to balloon under this Republican President, as it has during his first several years in office. Once again, putting the lie to the notion that Republicans are actually concerned about debt, deficit or federal spending, at least when a Republican is in the White House. Between the unpaid-for Trump/GOP tax cuts for the wealthy of $1.5 trillion, and year-over-year increases in federal spending since Trump's been in office, the annual deficit has now ballooned to nearly $1 trillion a year with the national debt reaching $22 trillion. That, after decreased deficits, year after year, during the last four years of the Obama Administration. No doubt, Republicans will pretend to be "conservatives" again just as soon as there is a Democrat in the White House once more. And they'll have a new fight over the debt ceiling to do it with, presuming Trump is out by 2021. That's the "conservative" scam, and it's shameful that the media --- and even Democrats --- continue to fall for it by calling them "conservatives". They are nothing of the kind;
  • Their pretend "conservatism", however --- whenever it is convenient to hide behind the label --- is also deadly. A new study by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that, thanks to the GOP-controlled states that refused to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), approximately 15,600 deaths have occurred that otherwise would not have. Many of those states are also part of the group suing to kill the ACA entirely, a case heard last week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If they are successful in striking down Obamacare in its entirety as unconstitutional, it means that some 24,000 Americans per year could die that otherwise would have lived. That's how GOP "conservatism" works. (Never mind that whole "provide for the general welfare" nonsense in the Constitution that they pretend to revere when occasionally convenient for them);
  • And finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, in which the latest climate change-fueled record heat wave reveals the vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure, the Trump EPA refuses to ban a toxic pesticide (made by a top Trump donor) which causes brain damage in children, the Trump 2020 campaign trolls the libs with recyclable and reusable straws (seriously) and Berkeley, CA becomes the first city in the nation to ban natural gas in new home construction...

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Guest: Election tech and cybersecurity expert Kevin Skoglund; Also: Deadly heat wave continues; Who to believe in the US/Iran showdown?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2019 6:24pm PT  

On today's BradCast, some potentially good news for Philadelphia voters (and, thus, voters across the entire country), after a citizen led effort has resulted in the state of Pennsylvania re-examining its certification of a shockingly vulnerable --- and wholly unverifiable --- new touchscreen voting system selected by the city earlier this year (under questionable circumstances) for use in upcoming elections. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

But first up, before we get to our guest today and the astonishing election integrity nightmare against which he is working with a coaltion on the ground in Philly to try and save democracy there, a few quick news items to start the show. Those include the now-deadly, climate change-fueled heat wave bearing down on dozens of states and millions of Americans and the latest on the dangerously intensifying disputes in the Persian Gulf --- thanks to Trump pulling out of the landmark 2015 anti-nuclear deal.

Then, last May, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would mandate HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter in the country, to help hedge against the possibility --- some may say likelihood --- of manipulated or erroneous elections results, and to help assure that results are publicly verifiable after elections. His bill, the Protect America's Voting and Elections (or PAVE) Act of 2019 now languishes in the Senate, despite passage of a bill in the House that also mandates HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all, thanks to Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's vow to disallow a vote on any election-related bills that might make our democracy more secure and overseeable in advance of the 2020 Presidential elections.

The White House has been similarly disinterested in improving election security and oversight, though Trump-appointed Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, the nation's "top spy" announced a new initiative today said to help the Intelligence Community coordinate their response to potential election manipulation, at least from foreign threats. Domestic threats, including from election insiders --- such as contractors from the private vendors who run much of America's elections, as well as simple programming errors or other manipulation by elections officials --- remain both as serious and much more difficult to guard against. Election protection ultimately comes down to public oversight, at the local level, of verified election results.

To that end, an Election Integrity coalition in Philadelphia this week has successfully petitioned the state of Pennsylvania to reexamine the Commonwealth's previous certification of a wildly dangerous and vulnerable new computer Ballot Marking Device (BMD) made by the nation's largest (and, arguably, most failed) private vendor, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S). The company's new ExpressVote XL is a 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMD system recently contracted for use by the Philadelphia Elections Board for use in upcoming elections, beginning with municipal elections this November and the Presidential contest next year.

We're joined today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, election integrity expert and Chief Technologist for the non-partisan Citizens for Better Elections, which, along with others in the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition petitioned the state for a re-examination of the ExpressVote XL. The costly voting and tabulation system --- one must be purchased for each voter voting at the same time in every precinct --- is described as a "universal" or "all-in-one" system, because one computer in the system is used to mark and print a voters ballot, and a second computer in the same system is then used to optically-scan and tabulate that ballot.

The system, chosen under a mysteriously truncated process by the Philadelphia Commissioners earlier this year --- "without any public or expert input" and with "no criteria for things like security, and resilience, and accessibility" as Skoglund tells me --- also violates state election code in numerous ways, as detailed in the citizen groups' petition to the state filed on Tuesday. Most alarmingly, however --- especially given the importance of Philly's one million votes to be cast in the crucial Keystone State during next year's Presidential election --- is a remarkable security design flaw in the ES&S ExpressVote XL.

In short (Skoglund offers more details on the show), the system allows the Ballot Marking Device's printer to change votes on the computer-printed ballot summary card before it is tallied but after the voter has already been given the opportunity to approve what was initially printed on the ballot summary card by the computer! In other words, of all of the terrible, 100% unverifiable BMD voting systems that Pennsylvania's Democratic stronghold of Philadelphia could have chosen, its City Commission chose the absolute most dangerous and unverifiable one.

"After this machine was certified in Pennsylvania, security researchers determined that there was a big flaw in these machines. That flaw is that they have a single paper path. It takes the blank piece of paper, it sends it to a printer, you make your selections on the screen, it prints those on the piece of paper, puts them back in front of the voter so that the voter can look at them and say whether or not they're happy with those selections. And once the voter says 'Yes, this is the ballot that I intend to cast, I am happy with these selections' and they press the button on the machine, it sends that card back through the same printer again before it goes to to the tabulator," Skoglund explains. "That means the machine has the opportunity to mark on that ballot --- potentially changing votes on it, invalidating votes on it, adding votes to it, basically changing what the voter cast." And, of course, the voter would never know.

While recent studies have found that most voters do not even bother to verify computer-marked paper ballots, and that of those who do, many do not notice if the computer has changed their selections, "The voter can do everything that's asked of them, do everything right, they can verify that ballot, and it still might not end up being the vote that gets cast. This is a violation of a fundamental principle of being able to audit these paper ballots. It's the whole reason we're going to paper ballots, to have good evidence of what the voter intended."

Skoglund explains, however, that it's not just Philadelphia preparing to use these systems in 2020. Other counties in PA are considering them as well, even though they are at least twice the price of a paper ballot system. Similarly states such as New Jersey and Delaware are moving to these same, horrible, unsecure systems. Elsewhere, jurisdictions from Georgia to Ohio to Kansas to Texas to Los Angeles are all preparing to move to only slightly less vulnerable (if equally unverifiable) BMD systems for 2020. That, instead of simpler, cheaper and actually verifiable HAND-MARKED paper ballot systems.

All of that is just part of what we discuss with Skoglund today that will likely leave your jaw hanging open as you wonder what the hell these people are thinking, and why it is that McConnell has disallowed Wyden's PAVE Act --- requiring HAND-MARKED paper ballots for all --- from becoming the law of the land long ago...

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

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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...

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

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