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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, September 21, 2019
GM Workers Strike and Whistleblower Can't Whistle: 'BradCast' 9/19/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with PaydayReport's Mike Elk and WaPo's Greg Sargent...
Corey Lewandowski, Liar And Proud Of It: 'BradCast' 9/18/19
Guest host Angie Coiro with all the news and a long chat with Shannon Watts...
Since the Dems Stink at Oversight, Let's Focus on Climate: 'BradCast' 9/17/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with 350.org's Tamara Toles O'Laughlin and Bill McKibben...
Bigger Priorities than the Integrity of the Vote? 'BradCast' 9/16/19
Guest hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
Sunday 'What's Your Flavor?' Toons
If only we moved as fast to ban deadly AR-15s as we are now moving to ban life-saving nicotine devices. Just one of many ironies in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Progressive OG Bloggers Recap the Third 2020 Debate: 'BradCast' 9/13/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Heather 'Digby' Parton and 'Driftglass'...
Taking to the Streets and Taking on the Media: 'BradCast' 9/12/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with activist Joshua Potash and broadcaster Krystal Ball...
'Green News Report' 9/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Global trade unions commit to Global Climate Strike on Sept. 20th; Parts of planet already warmed 2 degrees; PLUS: Prominent climate science denier departs the Trump WH...
Previous GNRs: 9/10/19 - 9/5/19 - Archives...
Dem Appears to LOSE Votes During Tally of NC09 Special Election 'Do-Over' Race? [VIDEO]
As more precincts come in, candidate totals appear to go down on MSNBC...
TX Gun Safety Advocates 'Startled' by Guv's Openness to Reform After Shootings: 'BradCast' 9/10/19
Guest: Ed Scruggs of TX Gun Sense; Also: Bolton out; Trump rallies for NC09 GOPer...
'Green News Report' 9/10/19
Trump's weather lies become NOAA crisis; Dorian death toll could be thousands in Bahamas; PLUS: Trump DoJ opens dubious anti-trust probe into automakers' CA deal...
A Month's Worth of News from the Last Three Days: 'BradCast' 9/9/19
(And we didn't even get to half of it!); Plus: Callers ring in on Dem Primary, L.A. County's new unverifiable touchscreen system, more!...
Sunday 'Category 5' Toons
Our prediction is that hot air on Hurricane Dorian won't stop after PDiddie's latest toon collection, which definitely hits Trump (and Alabama!) harder than anticipated...
'Cheeto Christ Stupid Czar' and Other Relevant Facts: 'BradCast' 9/6/19
Trump steals from hurricane-ravaged bases; Creepy Fox zombie; GOP scraps primaries; More House Rs quit; Musical happy ending...
'Green News Report' 9/5/19
Humanitarian crisis unfolding in Bahamas in Dorian's wake; PLUS: 2020 Dems dive deep in CNN's marathon 'Climate Crisis Town Hall'...
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 hosted by Angie Coiro with Patrick Poblete and Richard Clarke on UAW Strike, Wisconsin Voting Machines, Cybersecurity...
By Angie Coiro on 9/16/2019 5:27pm PT  

Welcome to another BradCast! I'm in for Brad and Desi today - Angie Coiro, heard on some of these same stations and streams with my own show, In Deep with Angie Coiro.

Best wishes to Brad and Desi while they take care of family business. If you haven’t read Brad’s post about what’s going on, please do. There’s no better time than now to support the Blog in every way you can.

First up is what I imagine would be Brad's headline story, too: the latest in the ongoing Wisconsin voting machine drama. PATRICK POBLETE from WisPolitics covers the story. The jawdropper: state officials felt they had bigger priorities than to check out reports of potential vote-hijacking.

A big fat news roundup includes two Elizabeth Warren stories: her campaign's endorsement by the WFP, and her newly-announced plan to attack DC corruption. Some of it strikes me as a bit pie-in-the-sky, but why not aim high?

Then a long excerpt from my interview earlier this year with RICHARD A. CLARKE, about his book The Fifth Domain.

And more more more. Check it all out!...

Download MP3 or listen 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!




Guest: Cybsersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund...
By Brad Friedman on 9/11/2019 6:59pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Questions about the results of a controversial do-over U.S. House election in North Carolina and about disturbing revelations from a secret reexamination of a wildly unsecure touchscreen voting system being deployed in Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) next year. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

At long last, NC's 9th Congressional District has held its do-over election, after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme was uncovered to derail the contest last November. With a new Republican candidate, the very Trumpy state Senator Dan Bishop, and the same Democratic candidate, Marine vet Dan McCready (pictured above), the two faced off in the long-time Republican district on Tuesday. It had long been predicted to be a very close race, seen as a potential bellwether for 2020 and a referendum on Donald Trump, who, with Vice President Mike Pence, helicoptered into the district for last-minute rallies on Monday night.

According to the reported unofficial --- and unverified-by-any-human-being --- results posted by the State Board of Elections (SBE), the Republican Bishop defeated the Democrat McCready by just under 4,000 votes (a margin just over 2%) out of nearly 200,000 votes cast in the district, which is spread over parts or all of 8 counties. While Bishop's margin of victory is slightly more than 1% too large to allow for a candidate "recount", the county with the single largest share of the votes cast in the race is Mecklenberg, which forces voters to use 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems at the polls. So there would little to "count" there anyway. Most of the rest of the district votes on hand-marked paper ballots.

But even with the unofficial 2% spread, there may be reason for McCready's team to examine the results, despite his quick concession on Tuesday night after media outlets, using unofficial results, called it for Bishop. His quick concession followed a similar one last November, when he'd reportedly lost by less than 1,000 votes in a race that the NC SBE ultimately refused to certify due to the GOP election fraud for which seven contractors now face felony indictments. Given the fraud last time in NC09, and the importance that both Trump and the GOP had placed on this race in advance of 2020, one might think it appropriate to wait until all votes were at least canvassed by the state before conceding. Moreover, Democratic turnout during early voting outpaced Republican turnout by even more than it did during the very close race during last November's "blue wave" election.

But in a curious new twist, just before airtime today, another anomaly came to light, as shared with us by a listener that I detailed here with screenshots and video. As I break down at that link, video from MSNBC's coverage on Tuesday reveals that McCready, after leading in the vote count throughout the early part of the night after 52% of precincts had come in, was suddenly overtaken by Bishop once 55% of precincts had reported, according to MSNBC's chyron. While that's not unusual, what is unusual is that when it happened, McCready's vote tally actually DECREASED by more than 3,000 votes, even though more votes had supposedly been tallied! After that, Bishop retained a very similar lead for the rest of the night, ultimately "winning" by a margin just under 4,000 votes.

There could, of course, be a good explanation for the vote count appearing to go BACKWARD --- a typo at MSNBC, a transcription error at the SBE, a non-nefarious bad data transfer somewhere along the line --- we just haven't yet been able to figure out what it is yet. Bishop's total also decreased at the same point, but by just over 1,000 votes. If we do figure it out, of course, we'll let you know.

But those maddening anomalies underscore, yet again, the importance of the other big story we cover on today's BradCast out of Pennsylvania. There, a group of citizen election integrity advocates filed a petition some weeks ago demanding a re-examination of the state's newly certified ExpressVote XL voting system made by ES&S. The new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) was recently certified to be deployed in Philadelphia and other jurisdictions in the key battleground state of PA before next year's critical 2020 Presidential election. While PA's Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, did, in fact, carry out the new examination of the system, as required by statute, apparently she did so in secret, employing the same company closely tied to ES&S that carried out the initially flawed certification testing, and did so in another state entirely (Colorado) with no notice or public oversight for the first time in PA history.

We're joined again today by KEVIN SKOGLUND, Chief Technologist for the Pennsylvania-based Citizens for Better Elections. He is a cybersecurity and voting systems expert and was one of the petitioners who joined us several weeks ago after the state agreed to the new examination. Skoglund, along with other long time election integrity advocates both nationally and in PA are outraged by the secret testing which, he explains, failed to even examine 7 of the petitioners' 10 cited concerns.

"This is the same company that did the initial examination. So, we're asking the people who gave the opinion the first time to give their opinion again. It doesn't really make sense," he tells me. "It's not a second opinion like you might get from a doctor." Moreover, he explains, "This was only a two-day examination. The lab that's doing this is not experienced in cybersecurity penetration testing. This is a voting system test lab that tests for the functionality of voting machines...These things are very technical in nature and they require specialists." In this case, it is a company who is actually paid by the vendor, ES&S, to test their systems.

As to those concerns which the examiners reportedly did bother to review [PDF] (in secret), they confirmed the petitioners' concerns. Nonetheless, Boockvar went ahead and recertified the new systems, citing new, additional procedures she hopes to impart to pollworkers next year as protection against the very serious security concerns cited by the petitioners and confirmed during the re-examination. One such concern, for example, is that the computer-marked paper ballot summary card produced by the ExpressVote's touchscreen system for theoretical verification by the voter before it is cast, returns back through the very same printer path after it is approved by the voter. That, Skoglund explains, would allow the voting system to change the voter's vote after they believe they have verified it for casting and counting by an optical scanner. New, similarly computerized touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices being deployed in other jurisdictions, such as Los Angeles County and Georgia (and in many other states before next year) appear to feature the same extraordinary security flaw.

"It's the craziest thing. This voting machines prints the information that you've selected on the screen onto a piece of paper, and then it presents it for you to review. And then, if you decide that it's acceptable, that piece of paper travels through a printer again before it's stored. So if you had a voting machine that was malfunctioning or manipulated or hacked, it could change that paper record before it gets stored. They 100 percent confirmed it," says Skoglund.

Other problems with the PA system include the fact that, due to the way it stores computer-marked ballots, the ballot secrecy of voters may be easily violated. Skoglund suggests the fight against these systems is not over by a long shot, and that the coalition of election integrity groups with whom he is working are reviewing their options for litigation in the days ahead. "We're definitely not giving up. We are not done contesting the certification of this machine."

As noted at the end of today's program, the woeful story of the likely unverifiable election in NC-09 underscores the important work being done by Skoglund and others BEFORE these dangerously unverifiable and easily hackable voting systems are deployed for U.S. elections in 2020...

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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(And we didn't even get to half of it!); Plus: Callers ring in on the Dem Primary, L.A. County's new unverifiable touchscreen vote system, more!...
By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2019 6:08pm PT  

The weekend brought us another avalanche of news in the Trump Era. As usual, we try to catch up by focusing on the stories that actually matter. But, even at that, we couldn't get to half of what we'd planned for today BradCast. But we did have time for a bunch of great callers. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Among the many stories we cover today that they were calling in to comment on...

  • A federal judge has restored a nationwide injunction to block the Trump Administration's likely-unlawful new policy that bars asylum to migrants who travels to the U.S. through another country before entering the U.S.;
  • Former GOP Governor and Congressman Mark Sanford of South Carolina becomes the third major Republican candidate to announce his intention of running against Donald Trump for the party's 2020 Presidential nomination, after previously describing Trumpism as "a cancerous growth" and charging the Republican Party has "lost our way". His long-shot bid, joining former MA Gov. Bill Weld and former IL Rep. Joe Walsh, will be made all the more difficult now that the Republican Party in South Carolina, along with those in Nevada, Kansas and Arizona, have cancelled the GOP caucuses and primaries in those states for 2020 at the behest of our thin-skinned, cowardly, unfit President;
  • Next door in North Carolina, it now appears to be full-speed ahead for Tuesday's two U.S. House Special Elections which were imperiled for a time by Hurricane Dorian. While the storm resulted in some cancelled Early Voting days last week, most of those hours were made up with extended hours over the weekend, leaving Democrats with a larger share of the early vote in the 9th Congressional District than they even had during early voting in last November's "Blue Wave" election. The Republican candidate reportedly "won" that race by about 900 votes in a district held by Republicans since the 1960s. But the election was never certified after revelations of a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme. Both Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are in the 9th district on Monday night, with two separate rallies, for far-right GOP State Senator Dan Bishop in the do-over race against centrist Democrat Dan McCready. The contest is currently being characterized as a toss-up and is being regarded as a bellwether for the 2020 elections. The other race, in NC's 3rd Congressional District is to fill the seat of the late Republican Rep. Walter Jones in an even more "red", if Hurricane Dorian-battered, district on the state's coast;
  • And in D.C. today, Trump declared that year-long peace talks with Taliban officials and the Afghan government are now "dead". That, after Trump revealed his cancellation of a secret meeting that had been set with Taliban officials this week at Camp David --- on the week when the nation commemorates the 18th anniversary of 9/11 while the nation's longest war (in response to it) continues on with no end in sight despite campaign promises from Trump to end it;
  • We also briefly reference the plan announced today by Democrats on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee to hold a formal vote this week to officially begin their impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump before opening up our lines to callers on all of the above and more.

    Among the additional topics on listeners minds today: The Democratic Presidential primary and the likely-disastrous move by Los Angeles County to replace its hand-marked paper ballot voting system with an ill-considered and 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system (pictured above) before the 2020 Presidential elections. The new system (pictured above) was developed by its brainchild, L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, who now refuses to appear on the show or answer our questions about the new, still uncertified system, as he used to. He calls it Voting Solutions for All People or VSAP. As one caller notes, the new system is shamefully being supported by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. One of them, longtime Democratic Supervisor Janice Hahn, has been (mis)representing the new system as an "exciting" "upgrade" from the previous system, despite the fact that the computer-marked "paper ballot" summaries the new system produces can never be known to reflect any voter's intent after an election in the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Similarly unverifiable touchscreen systems are being implemented in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and other key states before the 2020 election, despite warnings against electronic Ballot Marking Devices from world-class cybersecurity and voting systems experts...

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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Trump steals millions from hurricane ravaged bases; Creepy Fox 'News' zombie host; GOP scraps primaries for Trump; NC Special Elections threatened by Dorian; More House Repubs quit; And a musical happy ending...
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2019 5:52pm PT  

We catch up on a whole bunch of stuff on today's BradCast, from Trump's ransacking of military hurricane recovery funds in order to pay for his border wall --- as Hurricane Dorian slams a military base in North Carolina that is still crippled from last year's Hurricane Florence --- to both the Horse Races and the Track Conditions for a bunch of upcoming elections between next week and next year. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

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

  • Dorian ravages parts of the East Coast as the death toll rises in The Bahamas, and the President of the United States continues to spend time on his twisted, bizarre lies about his erroneous claims that it was going to hit Alabama;
  • At the same time, while an actual national emergency plays out, Trump's Administration is stealing $3.6 billion under the phony pretense of a "national emergency" in order to build his wall on the southern border. Hundreds of millions are being stolen from construction projects meant to help rebuild military bases in Florida, North Carolina and Puerto Rico after devastation from previous hurricanes over the past two years. That, as Camp Lejeune in NC hunkers down as Dorian hits, with blue tarps still serving as roofs on hundreds of structures there after Hurricane Florence last year. Lejeune is just one of scores of bases that Trump is robbing to pay for his wall, and there are bases in many other states losing millions as well, including in six states with Republican Senators facing reelection next year after voting for Trump's fake "national emergency". They will have to explain to voters why millions of dollars will not be coming into their local economies as previously allocated by Congress;
  • But, while those Senators may have trouble in their reelection bids, Team Trump is working to smooth his path to the GOP nomination. Politico reports the likely cancellation of GOP Presidential primaries and caucuses in at least four states next year where Trump might have faced embarrassing loses to several Republican challengers;
  • One of Trump's primary challengers, former Illinois Tea Party Rep. Joe Walsh is none too happy about the GOP's attempt to rig the nominating contest next year for Trump by scrapping primaries and caucuses. Nonetheless, we congratulate the newly-reformed former Rep. both for his righteous efforts to call Trump out for the danger he poses to the nation, and for his somewhat chilling recent appearance on Fox Business Channel earlier this week with "Stepford" Stuart Varney, whose astonishing insistence that Trump has never lied to the American People is something that needs to be seen (or heard) to be believed;
  • Also, as Dorian strikes, voters in NC's 3rd and 9th Congressional districts are Early Voting in advance of next Tuesday's two U.S. House Special Elections there. Or, they are trying to, at least. We've got an update on poll closures due to the storm, extended hours set for this weekend, and some questions about whether either or both election may need to be postponed yet again because of the hurricane;
  • In California, a Democratic Congressman is facing an interesting challenge from a man with the exact same name...which leads us down a fascinating rabbit hole into instances when this has happened before (last year in another U.S. House race in Kansas, and way back in 2001, in fascinating local election in California);
  • Speaking of the U.S. House, GOP incumbents are racing for the exits, with yet another Texas Congressman announcing this week he will not seek re-election (the fifth to do so, so far, in the Lone Star State) and longtime Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner announcing his retirement as well. We've got memories, fond and otherwise, to share on the retiring Wisconsin Congressman (the state's second to call it quits this cycle.) So far, 13 House GOPers have announced they are getting out while the getting's good;
  • And, speaking of quitting, former Starbucks CEO and billionaire Howard Schultz officially declares that he is nixing his plans to run for President as a "centrist" independent, which many Democrats feared might help pave the way for a Trump re-election in 2020;

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

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Guest: Veteran Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton...
By Brad Friedman on 9/3/2019 6:34pm PT  

There were a number of bullets dodged in the past few days, literal and otherwise, and some that, tragically, were not. We cover them on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

Most of Florida appears to have dodged a bullet --- though Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina aren't in the clear yet --- after the deadly and incredibly slow-moving Hurricane Dorian, once a Category 5, heads to the north, grazing the coast of the Sunshine State after catastrophically devastating several large islands in The Bahamas. We're joined today by Atlanta-based, 30-year Weather Channel meteorologist GUY WALTON, who now tracks extreme weather and our worsening climate crisis at his website, GuyOnClimate.com. He offers insight into what has made Dorian such an unusual, deadly, and wildly unpredictable storm.

"Steering currents are being affected by climate change and, as more warmth gets put into the atmosphere, the weaker those steering currents are going to be," Walton, who has written a children's book on the climate crisis, tells me in explaining the "$250 billion question" about "where the storm is going to be going." He says the weakened steering currents are what allow storms like Harvey in Houston two years ago and now Dorian to basically stand in place. "Dorian stalled over the Bahamas, and in this case, that was extremely bad for The Bahamas but good for Florida. It's very unusual to have a system just stall like that."

"We're getting more Category 4s and 5s forming in the Atlantic basin, and they're forming quite rapidly. Dorian formed near Puerto Rico and it did give them some tropical storm force winds, but it was only a Cat 1 at the time, and it really didn't take it more than about 24 hours to become a Cat 5," he observes, citing the increased effect of climate change on these storms. "We've had four out of the last five years seeing Cat 5s. We've had Dorian, Michael, Maria, Irma, and Matthew. And two of the storms --- Michael and Maria --- hit the United States as 5s."

A number of Texas residents were much less lucky than Floridians over the Labor Day holiday weekend, as actual bullets were flying yet again in the Lone Star state in yet another mass shooting by another young American white man. This one in the West Texas towns of Odessa and Midland resulted in 7 killed, more than 20 injured, a cowardly, sputtering President of the United States who clearly hasn't a clue what to do about it, and a cowardly Texas Governor who, after recently loosening gun restrictions in Texas to allow weapons of mass destruction in public schools and churches, suggests he might finally be willing to take action that might actually help protect Texans for a change by curbing the scourge of gun massacres in the state since he's taken office. We wouldn't hold our breath for that action, however. Texas Governor Greg Abbot, like Donald Trump, is a Republican who lives in fear of the terrorist-enabling NRA and places his own political career over the actual lives of the people he is sworn to protect and serve.

Democratic voters in the 2020 caucus states of Iowa and Nevada, meanwhile, may have dodged figurative bullets thanks to a few experts who managed to hack a recent closed telephone conference call by the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee as they were considering approval of plans by those two states to add unsecure remote telephone voting options to next February's caucuses there. The new plans were being prepared in answer to the DNC's mandate enacted after the contentious 2016 primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders in hopes of encouraging states to hold more inclusive primary elections rather than caucuses. If state parties chose to hold caucuses, however, the DNC is requiring them to add some form of remote voting option for those unable to attend hours-long, in-person caucuses. The remote voting plans in Iowa and Nevada, however, now appear all but dead, at least for 2020.

And, as we were just finishing up today's show, some more good news for Democrats --- and for all voters who believe in fair elections --- as North Carolina's State Superior Court issued a 357-page [PDF] ruling finding the state's GOP-gerrymandered legislative districts are unconstitutional and ordering new maps to be drawn before the 2020 elections in the closely divided battleground state. (Much more on that last story, undoubtedly, on tomorrow's BradCast!)

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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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)




Democracy's need for lifeboats in the form of hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/30/2019 9:35am PT  

Like those who took part in the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic as it blindly traversed the Atlantic, many American citizens are rushing headlong towards a pivotal 2020 election, unmindful of the potential for yet another e-voting catastrophe.

In 1912, in defiance of science, passengers and crew mistakenly believed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". In 2019, far too many Americans are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore repeated warnings from computer scientists. For many, the very idea that a Presidential selection could be the product of election fraud or failure in the form of undetectable, malicious manipulation or error of electronically tabulated ballots in disparate local, county and state-run election systems across an entire nation is simply unthinkable.

In 1912, ignoring the danger led to the deaths of 1,500 of the Titanic's 2,224 passengers and crew --- paltry numbers when measured against the threat to humanity's very survival that would be embodied in another four years of the Trump Administration's greed-over-science, anti-environmental policies.

Over the past two decades, the central problem for both computer scientists and election integrity advocates has not been the question as to whether all e-voting and electronic tabulation systems are vulnerable to manipulation via external hacks, mis-programming or malicious insider manipulations --- they are! Instead, they've been stymied by the near impossible task of proving that a given election result was fraudulent. That inability is occasioned by the fact that, in the absence of timely forensic access to the system, its ballot programming and its source codes, electronic theft is largely undetectable in any system that does not deploy hand-marked paper ballots.

While e-voting vulnerabilities to all manner of manipulation, as well as unintended programming errors, have always been present, both the threat of wholesale electronic theft and the dire consequences of that threat in 2020 have never been greater.

Fortunately, just as help for the surviving Titanic passengers and crew was just over the horizon in the form of the HMS Carpathia, democracy itself may be saved as the result of the valiant efforts by the Coalition for Good Governance ("the Coalition") to help compel the State of Georgia to conduct verifiable elections on hand-marked paper ballots. The help may not only save Georgia, but save the entire country, eventually, as evidenced by the extraordinarily well-informed 153-page ruling [PDF] that was recently handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg…

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




County election chief Dean Logan 'declines' to appear or answer public queries as nation's largest jurisdiction plunges headlong into major voting overhaul for 2020 Presidential elections...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2019 6:18pm PT  

Well, as detailed on today's BradCast, we've been trying, for a long time to get answers about the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems set to replace Los Angeles County's verifiable hand-marked paper ballot system for the first time in the 2020 Presidential elections. Disappointingly, however, the L.A. County Clerk/Registrar-Recorder Dean Logan, who had been very responsive and helpful in previous years, no longer answers simple questions about the new voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (VSAP), which he has been developing for more than a decade. That is very troubling, as we explain in detail today. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

The new VSAP system is a touchscreen Ballot Marking Device or BMD, which prints out a computer-marked paper ballot summary of votes selected via the touchscreen, before using another computer, an optical-scanner, to read the non-human readable QR Code that is also printed on the ballot summary. The QR Codes are used to tally votes. While the QR Code (a type of barcode) cannot be verified for accuracy by voters, it is also impossible with such systems to know if any voter has even verified the human-readable portion of the ballot summary at all, much less correctly, after an election. Studies reveal that most do not verify computer-marked ballots at all, and that of the minority who do, most don't recall the details or selections on the ballot they voted just moments earlier. That's just one of the many reasons why most cybersecurity and voting systems experts warn against the use of such systems which are now proliferating --- and sometimes replacing verifiable hand-marked paper ballot systems --- in many states and counties across the country before 2020. (The list of states where counties or the entire state are moving to BMD systems include a number of key battleground states. Such systems are planned for use next year, or are already being used, in OH, WI, PA, TX, WV, KY, NY, NJ, KS, TN, IN, SC, NC and, yes, CA, unless the public prevents these plans.)

We have been trying to get simple answers from Logan about the VSAP project before voters are forced to use it next year in the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, but Logan has both repeatedly refused to answer many such questions and has declined repeated invitations to appear on the program, including today's. That, after he has joined us on a number of occasions over the years (the last time he joined us was in April 2013 to announce that the new system would be an unverifiable touchscreen system) and he used to be quite responsive to voter questions and concerns on Twitter and elsewhere.

Among the simple questions Logan refuses to answer of late:

  • Will voters at the polls in Los Angeles still be allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots as previously mandated by the CA Sec. of State? (The office of Democratic SoS Alex Padilla, a supporter of the new system in L.A., has also not yet responded to that question.);
  • Will there be paper backups of the new electronic pollbook systems used with VSAP at the new Voting Centers which will be replacing community precincts this year? (1,000 such Voting Centers will allow voters to vote from any of them, versus the 4,000 local precincts L.A. voters have used in the past);
  • Will independent cybersecurity and voting systems experts like Harri Hursti, who has hacked many voting machines over the past decade or more, be allowed to carry out security and penetration tests on the system before it's used in the 2020 Presidential election? (Hursti has agreed to do so, but Logan has not responded, at least publicly, to take him up on his generous offer);
  • Where is the public documentation for whatever certification and security testing that Logan claims to have already carried out?
  • Why was a private, foreign-based voting systems vendor named Smartmatic given the nearly $300 million contract to build and program the systems, despite their disturbing record of mysterious foreign ownership and failed past elections?;
  • Why does Los Angeles and the California Sec. of State characterize the new VSAP system as "open source", while refusing to disclose the so-called "open source" to the public and responding to public records request to review it (even from other elections officials!) by claiming the system's code is "propriety information", "trade secrets" and that disclosure would "reveal vulnerabilities to attack or would otherwise increase the potential for an attack on the public agency's information technology system"?

We would have preferred Logan joined us on air today to answer such questions, and many more from callers. However, as he declined, we were forced to do our best to answer them ourselves.

Moreover, it would also be helpful if corporate media bothered to cover any of these important issues to the public. The Los Angeles Times ran two stories on VSAP last week, one a fawning 1,900 feature article on Logan and his years-long development process for the system. Neither story by the Times' Matt Stiles --- including the one headlined "Ready for the voting overhaul in L.A. County? Here’s what you need to know" --- mentioned anything about the many security and verifiability concerns of the new system. Following my public complaints to that end over the past week, Stiles has told me he is considering a story on those concerns. I hope so! Voters need to corporate to step up to this stuff, even a tenth as much as they cover the horse race --- while ignoring the track conditions on which the horses will be running!

Arguably, as bad or worse, Washington Post has a page up on their website headlined "How Ballot-Marking Devices Work". There is no story or text on the WaPo page, remarkably enough, just an embedded version of a two-and-a-half minute promotional video for the VSAP project created by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's office. Seriously! Nonetheless, out of an abundance of fairness, we aired the full promotional video for the system on the program.

We take a deep (and often harrowing) dive into all of the above and much more --- along with listener calls, many of them furious, as they hear about this for the first time --- on today's BradCast...

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

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Guest: SMART Elections co-founder, documentarian Lulu Friesdat: Also: RGB treated for pancreatic cancer; David Koch dies; Trump blows up markets, trade war with China; Amazon burning...
By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2019 6:38pm PT  

Just before airtime for today's BradCast, everything seemed to blow up at once (figuratively!) But we do our best to navigate through the most important explosions, including one that is likely receiving little coverage around the country. An astounding vote by the North Carolina Board of Elections --- led by a new appointee of Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper --- has allowed the certification of controversial, new, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems in the state for the 2020 elections. The Board's vote was 3 to 2 against a motion that would have blocked the dangerous and expensive voting systems made by ES&S, with the newly-appointed Democratic chair voting with the Board's two Republicans to kill the motion. It had been put forward and supported by the two Democratic Commissioners and supported by virtually every public commenter who packed today's SBE meeting. We discuss that remarkable news and much more with our guest today. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first, a few of the other items blowing up in today's news that you have likely heard a bit more about than the very bad news out of NC today. The U.S. Supreme Court released a statement that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg has completed radiation therapy for a malignant cancerous tumor discovered on her pancreas at the end of July, but that there is no evidence of the disease remaining in her body at this time. The 86-year old Justice underwent surgery for lung cancer in December and was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 1999 and pancreatic cancer in 2009.

Rightwing billionaire David Koch has died, according to his brother Charles. Collectively, the pair had raised and spent about $1 billion on elections and in support of almost exclusively Republican candidates and causes in recent years. Just last week, brother Charles was allowed to absurdly opine in a Washington Post op-ed that "both sides" of the political spectrum "have made it harder to come together as a country."

And, the Dow Jones took another 600+ point dive on Friday, after China announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods and as Donald Trump pitched a tirade on Twitter in response. Not only did he announce intentions to double-down several times in kind today, but he also attacked his own Fed chair Jerome Powell by calling him an "enemy" of the U.S. and comparing him to China's Chairman Xi. But, that's not all. He then absurdly declared that he has "hereby ordered" U.S. companies to stop doing business with China and their 1.4 billion consumers. White House officials, as well as Republicans in Congress and rightwing business groups were reportedly left dumbstruck by the President's latest and increasingly unhinged Twitter pronouncements as he headed off to France for a G-7 summit with allies --- and as the market headed sharply "south" in response to it all.

With the figurative national cancer in the White House seemingly metastasizing quickly at this point, and with corporate media focused almost exclusively on the horse race elements of the 2020 Presidential election, we look once again toward the quickly deteriorating track conditions on which next year's horses will be running. That issue has received a lot of coverage on The BradCast over the past several weeks, if not from the rest of the media, including news of the federal judge finding Georgia's entire touchscreen voting system unconstitutional; voting and tabulation systems discovered online in at least ten states, including several battleground states, despite claims by elections officials and private vendors that the systems were never connected to the Internet; ransomeware attacks that have shutdown city government computer systems in 22 Texas municipalities over the past week; and the successful efforts by citizens in New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia to demand new security reviews of recently certified, hackable touchscreen voting systems.

But the wild twists and turns in the battle against the new systems in the battleground state North Carolina came to a shocking and disappointing conclusion today, after scores of citizens spoke out against the dangers of the new computer-printed, barcoded ballot system being unleashed in the state. While largely the only person to testify in favor of the systems was a representative of the company selling and servicing them, the State Board of Elections certified them for use anyway, with the help of the Board's new Democratic chair voting with its Republican Commissioners in a series of stunning 3 to 2 votes.

We spoke to a number of folks on the ground in NC today, who testified against the new systems, and they were both stunned and furious. Frequent BradCast guest Marilyn Marks of the Coalition for Good Governance (a plaintiff in the successful federal case against Georgia's touchscreen voting machines) is a North Carolina resident who testified today. She sent me a statement just before airtime: "As a North Carolina voter I am embarrassed by the level of ignorance shown by three of the five members of the Board. The arguments they made wouldn't pass muster in fifth grade civics class." Another opponent of the new systems, Lynn Bernstein, an election security advocate, aerospace test engineer and ardent supporter of hand-marked paper ballot systems also spoke today and told me afterward that the new Chairman Damon Circosta "couldn't cite a single reason" for his vote, "other than he has confidence the new system will be fine."

We're joined today by longtime, award-winning journalist, columnist, documentarian and SMART Elections co-founder LULU FRIESDAT for her response to today's stunning news from NC, which she says she regards as a "coup" that will allow the new, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems next year in the closely divided battleground state of North Carolina as well as other jurisdictions such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles, unless the public can rollback this alarming trend.

"We have state after state after state --- we have this in Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, we've had it in New York, they had it in Kansas --- it's the same ES&S machines. And now you're seeing it in North Carolina, where you have a vast majority of citizens coming to these Board of Election meetings saying 'We want hand-marked paper ballots! We want voting systems that we can trust! We don't want touchscreen barcode systems!' And the election officials are putting in place those electronic touchscreen barcode systems that are the exact ones that people are protesting against."

She cites broad donations by vendors to many of the officials tasked with selecting the systems and passing statutes which allow them.

We also discuss the disturbing news out of DefCon's Voting Village a week ago, where she witnessed new voting and electronic pollbook systems --- like the ones now set for use in NC --- being easily hacked by attendees in minutes time. "This is the third year that they've had a Voting Village, where they have voting machines that are in use in the United States available there. And each year it becomes more clear that really, every system is extremely vulnerable. There was not a single system there, to my knowledge, that was not penetrated in some way, or they didn't find vulnerabilities," Friesdat tells me.

And, finally, we discuss her newly-launched effort at SmartElections.US to help train and organize voters nationally to help oversee our own public elections via her new #CountTheVote citizens initiative to help people "get involved on a very local level" .

CountTheVote will be "training people who care across the country, in county by county, especially targeting states where we know this is really going to come down to the wire, swing-states, giving people the toolkits that they need and the skills and information they need.," she explains. "You can have conversations with your election officials to try to influence them to purchase secure voting equipment. Get other groups involved to start pressuring them. This is happening all over the country."

Finally, if it seems that the world is on fire of late, that's because it is --- both figuratively (see everything above) and literally, from the Arctic to the Amazon. We close with a few words on the troubling developments in the Brazilian rainforest where that country's Trump-like authoritarian climate science-denying leader, Jair Bolsonaro, is actually blaming non-profit groups fighting to save the Amazon rainforest for the global warming conditions and Bolsonaro policies that are actually helping to spark the massive fires in a region of the world that otherwise helps turn climate warning C02 into oxygen. At least it did before the record fires have become to consume the region...

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Guest: Dr. William 'DocDawg' Busa; Also: Trump's Greenland debacle worse than it looks; Trump-fueled domestic terror epidemic growing...
By Brad Friedman on 8/21/2019 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's the first day of early voting in two U.S. House Special Elections, both in North Carolina, one of them a do-over election after a massive GOP Absentee Ballot Election Fraud scheme last November resulted in the State Board of Election's refusal to certify the fraudulent results. And this week, as our guest today discovered, the RNC has already stepped in it again at one of their websites supposedly meant to help voters apply for absentee ballots in the two contests. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of article.]

But first up today, a few thoughts on why we cover what we cover, and how difficult it actually is to make those decisions in the Trump Era. One story we haven't covered --- until today --- is the absurd effort by Donald Trump to purchase Greenland. While we've ignored the ridiculous story before today, the events of the past 24 hours, including the international incident caused by Donald Trump's abrupt cancellation of a planned state visit to our allies in Denmark next month, due to their refusal to sell him Greenland, have led us to rethink our coverage.

Trump's erratic behavior (on that and several other matters) suggests a quickly deteriorating state of mind for the President of the United States, leading George Conway, the conservative attorney and husband of one of Trump's senior advisers, Kellyanne Conway, to call today, in no uncertain terms, for the Vice President, Trump cabinet members and Republicans in Congress to begin seriously considering the use of the 25th Amendment to remove the "mentally unstable and unfit to serve" Trump from office.

Also today, a short follow up on our detailed coverage on yesterday's BradCast of what is clearly now a nationwide epidemic of domestic terrorism by white American rightwing men. There have now been at least 27(!) arrests across the country since the El Paso and Dayton shootings just over two weeks ago, of such men who have threatened mass slaughter and more against immigrants, Jews, African-Americans, LGBTQ people, and abortion clinics. They frequently cite Trump while doing it and most of the alleged terrorists also appear to own the high-powered military-style weaponry and ammo to pull off their threatened mass shootings.

Then, we're joined by North Carolina's DR. WILLIAM BUSA of the campaign consulting and data firm EQV Analytics. Busa --- who may be better known as "DocDawg" of the progressive website DailyKos --- joins us to detail his alarming findings this week after carefully reviewing the Vote.GOP website. The site is run by the RNC and offers various voting services, such as registration and absentee ballot applications for voters. With early voting now underway in the NC-03 and NC-09 special elections for the U.S. House, Busa discovered that the RNC's online application for North Carolina voters to apply for absentee ballots on the site was misconfigured in a way that would result in the potential purge of voters who used it!

Moreover, Busa found, as he documented at EQV Analytics in an article headlined "Political Malware", "Every visit to Vote.GOP peppers the user's browser with tracking cookies, web beacons, and data-harvesting code, including code attributed to a division of Tremor International, an Israeli advertising technology company whose RhythmOne subsidiary touts its ability to harvest web users' 'demographics, psychographics, shares (including dark social media), interests, purchase behaviors, and browsing habits'." Between those trackers and the information provided by voters seeking to register or request an absentee ballot, Busa describes, the GOP is scraping up what "the holy grail of campaign advertising [which] enables precision micro-targeting of just the right message to exactly the voter most likely to be persuaded by it, just as Cambridge Analytica did for the Trump campaign in 2016."

Since publishing these details in his exposé late Monday night, he reports, "the Republican Party appears to have hit the kill switch on their website. The site itself is still up, but it now no longer offers any voter assistance services," he tells us.

Busa also offers updates on the two U.S. House Special Elections now at stake on September 10th. One is to fill the now-vacant seat of the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC3) in a very "red" district. The other much more "exciting" race, is the do-over election following the GOP Absentee Ballot Fraud Scandal that resulted in some 7 recent indictments of Republican operatives, no certified winner and a new election called after last November's U.S. House election in the state's 9th Congressional District.

Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate in that race had reportedly lost by just 905 votes to Republican preacher Mark Harris last year, until the scandal carried out by a GOP contractor and known fraudster hired by Harris finally came to light. McCready is running again for the Dems in the do-over, but the Republicans have put up Dan Bishop, the State Senator who wrote NC's controversial "bathroom bill" several years ago, a measure which ended up costing the state about a "billion dollars in boycotted business," according to Busa. Moreover, he explains, the notorious Bishop has also been revealed as an investor in the alt-right social media site called GAB, which might be better described as simply Twitter for White Supremacists.

A lot of money is now being spent by both sides on the NC-09 race, where McCready has reportedly been able to out-raise Bishop by more than 2 to 1 in the longtime Republican district. Busa believes the contest is currently a "toss-up" that will come down to turnout, especially that of independent voters.

We also get a quick update from Busa on the amazing battle raging at the State Board of Elections right now regarding whether new, very expensive, 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices made by ES&S will be certified by the state, or whether the state will move to all hand-marked paper ballots. As we reported on the program several weeks ago, that battle took a number of astonishing twists and turns triggered by the resignation of the SBE's Chair after he told an off-colored joke about a cow and woman to a convention of some 600 NC election officials.

So...tune in for the latest skinny on that particular madness and more today in the increasingly-notorious swing-state of North Carolina!...

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Guest: Jeanne Devon of the AK Dem Party; Also: GA petition effort mandates new review of state's new unverifiable voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2019 6:28pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A new petition effort to rename the block of Fifth Avenue in New York City where the Trump Tower is located after President Barack Obama has now gained nearly half a million signatures. It began as a joke, according to its author, but quickly caught on. While it's a brilliant, if unlikely idea, other, somewhat more important petition efforts --- with actual legal standing --- have recently caught fire over the past week or so as well. And the consequences of those efforts could be far reaching. [Audio link to today's show is posted below.]

First, in the battleground state of Georgia, where the Secretary of State has just selected an all new 100% unverifiable touchscreen ballot marking device (BMD) voting system for the state, which voters will be forced to use at polling places in 2020, was certified just a week or so ago in violation of the state's elections code, according to election integrity experts and opponents of Republican SoS Brad Raffensberger's $150 million new system made by Dominion Voting Systems of Canada.

Raffensberger's decision comes as a federal judge in Atlanta, just last week, found [PDF] the state's current 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting system to be "unsecure, unreliable, grossly outdated....seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack". So much so, that the judge also declared the old system be in violation of voters' right to have their votes counted as cast. As we discussed with one of the plaintiffs in detail last week, U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ordered the state to use a new, hopefully verifiable system in 2020. But the new system selected by Raffensberger may face a similar fate in federal court, as opponents vow to challenge it as well, while calling for hand-marked paper ballots instead.

In the meantime, however, more than 1,400 state voters, as of air time, have signed a petition demanding a reexamination of the newly selected system, charging that it was improperly certified in violation of the state elections code. Only 10 voters, according to GA state law, are needed to sign the petition to trigger such a second look, far fewer than the number of Georgia residents now demanding it.

And, at the same time, way up north in Alaska, another petition effort is rocking our nation's 49th state. In just two weeks, a multipartisan coalition has gathered more than 29,500 signatures calling for a recall of newly-elected Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy. That is a thousand more signatures than required by law --- and a lot of signatures in such a short time, in a state with a population of only about three quarters of a million. The petitioners say they will continue to collect signatures through September 2nd. If this first step is successful, as appears likely, a second effort to get about 70,000 signatures will be needed to place the actual recall measure on the ballot.

The unprecedented effort comes as Gov. Dunleavy has attempted to implement radical cuts of some $443 million to the state budget, including $130 million --- or 40% of the state's budget contribution --- to the University of Alaska system. Also slashed was about $30 million for senior benefits, early learning funds and Alaska Legal Services. One of the most objectionable (and likely unlawful) attempted cuts was to the state's court system, a punitive measure in the exact amount of what the state currently spends on abortion services, meant as retaliation by the Republican Governor for the state Supreme Court having upheld a constitutional right in the state to abortion services.

And, all of this comes as Alaska is seeing record high temperatures and wildfires that have ravaged about two and a half million acres in the state this year amid our ongoing climate crisis, and as the President of the United States appears to have made a secret deal with the Governor to okay a controversial mining project on the pristine waters of the Bristol Bay watershed.

We're joined today by our old friend JEANNE DEVON, formerly known as "AKMuckraker" of the great Alaska blog The MudFlats. She now serves as Communications Director for the state Democratic Party and breaks down the details of the political tremors now reverberating in Alaska, including the fact that, while the state Democratic Party supports the petition effort to remove Dunleavy, they are not actually responsible for the effort. It is being brought forward by a coal baron, believe it or not, along with a longtime Republican legislator, the last living signer of Alaska's Constitution (a 95-year old Dem, pictured above), and the state's former independent Governor's Chief of Staff, among others.

The broad coalition, Devon explains, opposes Dunleavy for a host of reasons as the transplant from the "lower 48" does not appear to understand Alaska's values and how Republicans, Democrats and independents don't necessary operate on the same terms they do elsewhere in the country. For example, as we discuss, Alaska --- which has voted for the Republican nominee in every Presidential election since Lyndon Johnson --- is actually a socialist state, in that the fossil fuel companies who operate there are legally obligated by the state to send royalty checks to every man, woman and child each year.

"It's set up that way," Devon explains, because the resources are seen as being "owned communally by everyone in the state. We actually have written in our state constitution that our resources are to be developed 'for the maximum benefit of the people'." The result, she says, is that the people who live in Alaska own their own resources and receive a minimum basic income. Ideas that unleash shouts of "SOCIALISM! COMMUNISM!" by Republicans elsewhere, but not in Alaska for some odd reason, where the state relies, bigly, on those royalties from the fossil fuel industry. Devon notes the payments also serve to "keep 25,000 Alaska families out of poverty every year" and sever as "a huge influx of almost a billion dollars into the local economy."

As to the recall movement, she suggest that not only will petitioners successfully complete the first step, but that they are also likely to gather the 70,000 signatures needed in the second step to see the measure to remove Dunleavy placed on the ballot. "You do have folks that are Republicans, who are industry Republicans, business Republicans, who are conservatives but not ideologues in the way that Gov. Dunleavy is. He is coming from the point of view of really breaking government. And that is where the line is drawn. There is just a sense that he does not love the state, and he doesn't understand the state" as a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania.

In regard Dunleavy's attempt to punish the state Supreme Court, Devon argues "It's unconstitutional on so many levels. It's chilling that you can have a branch of government that not only will do their own calculations about the number of dollars that the state has spent on abortion, but will then line item veto just that amount from the entire court system as punishment. And then announce it, publicly, that this is what they're doing and why." With the help of a cold-hearted GOP operative by the name of Donna Arduin, hired by Dunleavy to slash the budget after similarly devastating cuts she made on behalf of GOP Governors in Kansas, Arizona and Florida, Devon explains that Dunleavy "even cut the money that would have earthquake-proofed children's libraries in schools, so that giant bookshelves won't fall on tiny children" in the earthquake prone state.

In our fascinating discussion today, Devon also explains what is known about the deal recently struck between Dunleavy and Donald Trump --- during a secret meeting at the state's airport in Anchorage --- that resulted in Trump's order to his EPA to reverse an environmental endangerment finding by the Obama Administration's EPA that had finally blocked the long controversial Pebble Mine project. The enormous and controversial planned gold, silver and copper mine, according to scientists, environmentalists and many other opponents in the state, will put the world's largest and most important sockeye salmon habitat in critical danger in and near Bristol Bay, causing what the EPA described previously as "irreversible loss of fish habitat". Devon describes it as"the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery on the planet. It employs almost 20,000 commercial fisherman. It feeds a region of indigenous Alaskans who have been surviving off of these fish for over 10,000 years. It's not only a food staple, but really an entire culture" that will be destroyed if the mine is allowed to be built.

Hope you'll tune in for today's important and must-listen conversation on the entire mess now consuming the great state of Alaska and how it might --- by the way --- also effect the 2020 Presidential election!...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Plaintiff Marilyn Marks says landmark ruling finding Georgia's voting system unconstitutional is a victory for voters across the nation...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2019 6:10pm PT  

We've got some pretty huge and long-overdue breaking news today from a federal court in Atlanta. It's huge enough that we dumped what we were previously planning to cover to devote today's BradCast to the judge's new order in a case that we have been following now for years. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg, in a 153-page ruling [PDF], finds that Georgia's 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen voting systems, in use in the state since 2002, are not fit for U.S. elections because they are "unsecure, unreliable and grossly outdated". They are so unsecure, in fact, that they violate the Constitutional right of voters to have their votes counted as cast.

"Georgia’s current voting equipment, software, election and voter databases are antiquated, seriously flawed and vulnerable to failure, breach, contamination and attack," Totenberg writes.

She excoriates the state Defendants --- former Republican Sec. of State, now Governor Brian Kemp and current Sec. of State Brad Raffensberger --- for lying about facts and evidence in the case (though she is only slightly more polite in her wording, by describing the "Defendants' inconsistent candor with the Court") and for dismissing the many long-proven security concerns about these systems as "fantasy" forwarded by Plaintiffs.

While Judge Totenberg will allow the old Diebold touchscreen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) systems to be used one last time in Georgia's municipal and county elections this November, she makes it clear they may not be used again in 2020 or thereafter under any circumstances. She also offers several hints that the state's recently selected new touchscreen systems, now planned to replace the old ones, may also be found unconstitutional in further proceedings, leaving the clear preference of cybersecurity and voting systems experts --- hand-marked paper ballots --- as the only option likely to meet requirements for auditability and Constitutionality.

We're joined to explain all of these details and much more today on what is a clear, overdue --- if not (yet) total --- victory, by plaintiff MARILYN MARKS, Executive Director of the Coalition for Good Governance. She has been joining us on the show for a number of years now with updates on each important aspect of this broad and gruelingly long case since filing it about two years ago. Marks calls today's ruling a victory not just for Georgia voters, but for those in many states where similar systems are now used --- including some where newer, if still unverifiable, touchscreen systems are being planned for use in 2020.

"The court ruled that DREs are unconstitutional. And that anybody voting on these things should be worried about their vote," says Marks. "Of course, this doesn't relate just to Georgia. The words of this federal court will be heard around the United States. Hopefully this will have an impact on other jurisdictions" where, she hopes, they will take notice of the judge's words recommending hand-marked paper ballots.

Marks explains that Judge Totenberg does not appear much happier with the new system Georgia now plans to use in 2020, though was unable to offer a finding on it, yet, given that the state just finalized their decision last week. But, Totenberg offered warnings about those new touchscreen computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in several places in the ruling, such as when she warned: "The past may here be prologue anew — it may be 'like déjà vu all over again.'"

Indeed, Marks says her non-partisan organization plans to seek an injunction on use of Georgia's new, equally unverifiable touchscreen systems as well, and that Totenberg, perhaps with that in mind, has ordered that a number of counties run hand-marked paper ballot pilot elections this year in advance of next year's Presidential primary elections. "We will absolutely be launching a constitutional challenge against Ballot Marking Devices," she vowed.

"Surely they realize that the hand-writing is on the wall and they've got to quit fighting for unverifiable elections. I would think Georgia voters are going to get pretty sick and tired of this. Most of these guys are elected officials, so I think that they need to consider the political consequences if they want to continue to fight for unverifiable elections."

As to allowing the old, unconstitutional systems to be used one more time in the state's 2019 municipal elections, Marks advises: "While they can be used in November, they shouldn't be used in November. Those people on the ballot, those people voting in the municipalities, should demand right now --- right now is the time to do it --- that their county, their municipality go ahead and use hand-marked paper ballots. They've got the equipment for it [since they already use hand-marked ballot systems for absentee voting across the state] they've got the know-how, they ought to do it."

In one other key element of this case, as Marks explains, the Judge also ordered a review of the state's electronic pollbook systems which resulted in failure and chaos and disenfranchisement during last November's general elections. She has ordered that polling places must have paper backup pollbooks on hand in elections moving forward, to avoid the disenfranchisement of voters when electronic voter registration systems fail on Election Day or are manipulated by malign actors.

"Just like with any computerized voting component, it can be hacked," Marks tells me regarding the state's ES&S ExpressPoll registration computers used in the Peach State's precincts. "There can be errors. There can be mis-programming. And that's been occurring in Georgia. [Judge Totenberg] asked us to bring her evidence. We brought her hundreds of affidavits of people who were turned away at the polls who should not have been. We brought her evidence of software problems in the e-pollbook system. And therefore she said, 'Enough of this! Go fix the system!'"

She continued: "I get it as to why computerized [registration] records can be very helpful here, but let's use some common sense. And the judge has said have a paper backup so that if there is a question that needs to be adjudicated, use the official paper backup. And look it up right there, and don't run people away from the polls. Give them their ballot."

In fact, in her ruling, the judge cites "threats of contamination, dysfunction, and attacks on State and county voting systems, disparaged by the Secretary of State’s representatives...as a fantasy and still minimized as speculative" by the Defendants as recently as a hearing in the case this year. That, Totenberg notes, despite threats "identified in the most credible major national and state cybersecurity studies and official government reports." She even cites "real life" incidents that "played out with the United States’ July 2018 criminal indictment of a host of Russian intelligence agents for conspiracy to hack into the computers of various state and county boards of election and their vendors as well as agents' efforts during the 2016 election to identify election data system vulnerabilities through probing of county election websites in Georgia and two other states." All of which, writes Totenberg --- as Marks has long been arguing --- serves to "burden Georgia citizens' right to cast a vote that reliably will be counted."

As to the lies --- er..."inconsistent candor with the Court" --- Marks notes the Secretary of State's staff told "just absolutely black and white lies. They didn't mind lying to the court. And one has to wonder what is it that they are hiding that makes it worth lying to the court, and facing the potential consequences of lying to the court." She told me she intends to seek sanctions from the court for those lies in the days ahead.

So, yes, some big --- and very good --- news for a change today!

Finally today, the one thing we did not throw over to make room for the landmark ruling out of Georgia, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report on global warming-fueled toxic algae blooms now killing dogs in a number of states; Big Oil pushing into plastics manufacturing as gasoline demand declines in the wake of the electronic car revolution; plastic pollution found in falling snow in the otherwise pristine Arctic; and Democratic-led states suing Trump's EPA to block his rollback of Obama's Clean Power Plan...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Also: Judge overturns Mnuchin scheme to make 'dark money' even darker; Texas sued for tossing out absentee ballots without notifying voters...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2019 6:39pm PT  

"You've heard about 'Draining the Swamp'," Donald Trump's Acting Chief of Staff and Office of Management and Budget Director told a bunch of GOPers at a fundraiser recently in South Carolina. "What you haven't heard is what we're actually doing." He's right. We try to do something about that on today's BradCast. Again. [Audio link to show is posted at end of summary.]

Lack of funding and a hiring freeze by the Trump Administration has resulted in a shortage of correctional officers at facilities like the federal lockup in Manhattan where accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was found dead on Saturday morning. The billionaire financier and friend of Trump was supposed to have been monitored every 30 minutes by correctional officers after being removed, for some reason, from the prison's "suicide watch" list just 6 days after he reportedly tried to kill himself. But media reports say that Epstein was not monitored for hours before being found dead. Both of the officers tasked with the job were working overtime and one was merely a substitute, reportedly, not fully trained for it. Trump's Attorney General Bill Barr has temporarily suspended both of them and reassigned the warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, as he claims to be seeking accountability for the failure at the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facility overseen by the Attorney General.

The lack of federal funding at BOP is not an accident, of course. It's just one small part of this Administration's ongoing efforts to, as Mulvaney admitted, "streamline government" by making it simply disappear any way they possibly can. As Trump's Director of the OMB, Mulvaney attempted to cut funding in half for several key scientific and economic departments at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. When Congress rejected those cuts, the Administration implemented Plan B, which is what Mulvaney was bragging about to the Republican donors in South Carolina. The USDA gave just over 30 days for career officials at two important and long-established USDA agencies, the Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), to decide if they wished to uproot their lives and those of their family's to move to Kansas City (either Missouri or Kansas, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has not told anyone which state it will be) or be fired.

Matt Shuham at Talking Points Memo has been covering the ongoing crises at the two agencies in a series of stories, documenting how senior officials, with decades of institutional knowledge are being lost in the bargain, as more than half of those longtime federal workers have chosen against moving 1,000 miles across the country before the end of September.

"It's nearly impossible to fire a federal worker," Mulvaney complained while explaining the Administration's scheme for forcing longtime federal employees to either move to "the real part of the country" or quit. "They quit," Mulvaney boasted to the delight of the corporate GOP funders. "What a wonderful way to sort of streamline government and do what we haven't been able to do for a long time." One of Shuham's latest reports details the gut-wrenching decision of a 30-year veteran branch chief at the ERS, who says that staffers working on everything from researching genetically engineered seeds to soil conservation to climate change are almost all entirely gone from the agency now, along with hundreds of years of collective knowledge and institutional experience. Ironically enough, when Purdue issued the letter to employees notifying them of the move, he claimed it was being done, among other reasons, to "improve USDA's ability to attract and retain highly qualified staff."

The gutting of the USDA is a "test case", one economist at ERS said. "If they can carry this out, what’s to stop them from doing this on a larger scale to another agency?" The answer: Nothing. They are already doing something identical to the Bureau of Land Management at the Dept. of Interior. And there will be more to come if these moves aren't somehow blocked. Donald Trump is actively and purposely killing your government and both he and corporate industry interests couldn't be more delighted about it. This will only be stopped --- maybe --- if he is turned out of office no later than next year.

To that end, we catch up on a couple of (mostly) good news elections-related stories today as well. In Montana, a federal judge has overturned a new rule by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that would have allowed "dark money" non-profit 501(c)4 groups to keep their donors a secret from the IRS. Such groups are already exempt from disclosing their funding sources publicly, but Mnuchin didn't want even the Government to know where their money used for elections is coming from either. A lawsuit by Montana Governor and 2020 Democratic Presidential hopeful Steve Bullock has successfully blocked that new rule --- for now. It would have made it almost impossible for the Government to determine if foreign sources were unlawfully funding elections work by such groups.

And down in Texas, the Texas Civil Rights Project and other plaintiffs are suing the state on behalf of voters to force election officials to notify voters when absentee vote-by-mail ballots are rejected by county election officials in time to correct any perceived signature mismatches. Such decisions are largely ad hoc from county to county --- elections officials are not hand-writing experts after all --- as there are no statewide standards for making the determination that the signature on the vote-by-mail ballot does not match that of the registered voter. Thousands of ballots in the Lone Star state have been tossed without the knowledge of voters who, under state law, do not need to be notified about signature mismatches that will keep their ballots from being counted, until 10 days after the election. With Texas potentially in play for Democrats next year, every vote may very well matter. So this lawsuit, like similar ones successfully filed in other states in recent years, is very important on several levels.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, in which another new rule imposed by the Trump Administration's Dept. of Interior is set to gut federal protections for thousands of endangered species; his EPA has cleared the way for an enormous, controversial mine project in Alaska which threatens key, pristine salmon fisheries in the region; and with details on the one energy project that the Administration is suddenly interested in slow-walking for some reason...

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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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