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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, May 23, 2024
Trump Trial Ketchup: Costello Fails, Trump Bails, Defense Rests: 'BradCast' 5/22/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: Election results and problem reports from KY, OR, GA, CA and MD...
Trump Dark Money Group Dumping Tens of Millions on Racist, Transphobic Disinfo Ads: 'BradCast' 5/21/24
Guest: Victoria Cadostin; Also: Rudy arraigned in AZ; Trump defense rests in NY; More...
Sunday 'I Scream Cohen' Toons
THIS WEEK: Unethical Lying Sleazebags ... The Death of Satire ... Trains are Real ... And many more primal screams in our latest collection of the week's best toons...
FEC Repubs Vote to Allow Campaign Donor Anonymity: 'BradCast' 5/16/24
Guest: Public Citizen's Craig Holman; Also: Two (generally) encouraging SCOTUS rulings on CFPB funding and a second Black-majority U.S. House district in Louisiana...
'Green News Report' 5/16/24
  w/ Brad & Desi
Canadian wildfires expand; Climate change exacerbated extreme heat in Asia; Broadcast media ignored Trump's billion dollar Big Oil quid pro quo; Plus: Biden v. China on EVs...
Previous GNRs: 5/14/24 - 5/9/24 - Archives...
Trump Trial Ketchup: Cohen, 'Smoking Gun', 'Cult of Trump': 'BradCast' 5/15/24
Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
LAPD Right-Wing Bias in Violent Response to UCLA Protest Was No Surprise
U.S. law enforcement has long sided with the right against peaceful anti-war, environmental, racial and economic injustice protesters...
Could Ohio Repubs REALLY Keep Biden Off the Ballot?!: 'BradCast' 5/14/24
Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
'Green News Report' 5/14/24
Canada's fire season erupts; Record-breaking increase in global CO2 levels; PLUS: MI is newest state to sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Recount in Tied House Primary Reveals Probs in CA Law: 'BradCast' 5/13/24
Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon denied; Giuliani fired; Menendez trial begins; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal trial...
Sunday 'Stormy Weather Continues' Toons
THIS WEEK: Cannon Fire ... Catch and Kill ... Parasites ... Protesting Too Much ... and more, in our latest collection of the week's most turbulent toons...
'Green News Report' 5/9/24
Tornadoes across U.S.; FL Repubs ban 'climate change'; House Repubs' latest salvo in 'War on Woke Appliances'; PLUS: US culture shift in portrayal of climate reality...
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...


With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/16/2024 10:35am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Canada wildfires expand, threaten oil industry town of Fort McMurray, again; Climate change made extreme heat in Asia significantly worse; PLUS: Broadcast media ignored Donald Trump's blatant, billion-dollar quid pro quo offer to Big Oil... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): DeSantis signs law deleting climate change from Florida policy; A Trump win puts $1 Trillion in US energy investments at risk; How Alabama turned to restrictive deed covenants to ward off flooding claims from black residents; Oakland is now first in the US to have a 100% electric school bus fleet - and it's V2G; Impunity and pollution abound in DRC mining of critical minerals; Persistent Brazil floods raise specter of climate migration... PLUS: Don't fall for 'climate-friendly' beef... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: MD, NE, WV primary results; Biden, Trump agree to early debates...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2024 6:38pm PT  

It has been the most important week in the New York criminal trial of Donald J. Trump, as the last witness for the prosecution, Trump's former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen took the stand. The court is off today, so we have time on today's BradCast to catch our breath for yet another Trump Trial "ketchup" show for you. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

BUT FIRST, we've got a few noteworthy results from Tuesday's primary elections in Nebraska, Maryland and West Virginia, where, once again --- other than in WV --- Joe Biden outperformed Donald Trump among their respective party voters. Yes, the zombie campaign of Nikki Haley keeps on going. The former South Carolina Governor, who dropped out of the race months ago at this point, won 20% of the GOP vote in MD, while she and one other GOP candidate (that few have heard of) won about the same percentage among Republicans in Nebraska. In both states, Biden outpaced Trump among his own party's primary voters. FWIW.

On Wednesday, Biden threw down the gauntlet to challenge Trump to two early debates hosted by media outlets --- in a studio, without an audience --- rather than by the non-partisan Committee on Presidential Debates. The Biden-Harris Campaign explained their several reasons for pre-empting the CPD in a letter. They are mostly good ones. Among them, the fact that the group has failed to update its schedule for debates to hold them before tens of millions of Americans have already cast their ballots this year via early and absentee voting.

Trump quickly accepted the challenge, and within hours the pair had agreed to allow CNN host the first debate in Atlanta on June 27, and ABC to host the second on September 10.

THEN, it's on to today's coverage of noteworthy news from the 5th week of the first-ever criminal trial of a former American President. We're joined again today for insight and commentary by HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning Salon columnist and Hullaballoo blogger, and former attorney and former Republican KEITH BARBER, who now blogs on legal matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos.

Among our many topics of discussion today...

  • Parton discusses the embarrassing parade of elected Republican deplorables now showing up at the courthouse in Manhattan --- mostly in red ties and navy suits --- to display their love for the boss, audition to become his Vice Presidential nominee, and/or say the things that the Court has barred Trump from saying via a gag order. Among the "toadies [who] came a-croaking," as Barber quips: Senators JD Vance (OH) and Tommy Tuberville (AL), Rep. Byron Donalds (FL), Gov. Doug Burgham (ND), Vivek Ramaswamy, and, perhaps most shamefully from the former "Rule of Law" party, House Speaker Mike Johnson (LA). "These people are playing to Donald Trump," explains Parton, along with the warning that many of them are "the Michael Cohens the future."
  • This week's critical testimony of Michael Cohen --- who Parton describes as a "diminished, humiliated man sitting on the witness stand having to admit, over and over again, that he was a liar, a fool, a dupe, he got sent to jail, all in service to Donald Trump" --- and the "smoking gun" bank statement featuring proof of Cohen's $130,000 hush-money payment to porn storm Stormy Daniels. That document, we have now learned, also features Cohen's own hand-writing and that of former (now jailed for perjury) Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg. Their marginalia details how the falsified reimbursements to Cohen, fraudulently described in the Trump Org's books as "legal retainer" fees, would be made in $35,000 monthly payments by Trump during his first year in the White House. But, as importantly, Cohen testified that Trump personally approved the fraudulent reimbursement scheme during a meeting at Trump Tower with both Cohen and Weisselberg present after Trump's hush-money scheme helped him to win the 2016 election.
  • Barber describes what he saw as a surprisingly limp start to cross-examination of Cohen by Trump's lead attorney, Todd Blanche, on Tuesday and how, frankly, Team Trump doesn't seem to have much to work with after the Prosecution spent much of their direct examination "inoculating the jury" to Cohen's many years of lying on behalf of Trump before he came clean and pleaded guilty to many of the crimes Trump is now being held to account for. Trump's attorneys have presented no alternative theory in the case, says Barber. Which also means they are unlikely to offer much, if any, defense case at all after the Prosecution rests. On Tuesday, they informed the judge that Cohen will be their final witness. Team Trump, meanwhile, is still pretending that Trump might actually testify. (He won't.)

Cohen's cross-examination of continues and likely completes on Thursday, and then the court will be off on Friday to allow Trump to go to his son Baron's high-school graduation (if the disgraced former President actually bothers to show up for it.) But it's been a fascinating and critical week of testimony so far, including Cohen's explanation of how he spent years "knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump".

"Cult of Donald Trump"? What "cult of Donald Trump"?...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: GOP dirty tricks in WA; More GOP voter suppression in GA; Brighter news from WI and on the slow painful death of 'stare decisis'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/14/2024 6:34pm PT  

We're covering 2024 election news in at least four different states on today's BradCast --- track conditions, not horse race --- and only one of those stories is particularly good news as GOP dirty tricks and voter suppression seem to be getting an early start this year. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our main stories today...

  • Voters in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia headed to primary polls on Tuesday, with critical U.S. Senate and other races on the ballot. Noteworthy results and/or problem reports on tomorrow's program.
  • We first began reporting on this story early last month, when it seemed utterly ridiculous to even contemplate. It still does, frankly. Nonetheless, Ohio's wildly dysfunctional, partisan-gerrymandered Republican state legislature missed last week's deadline for a legislative fix to allow Joe Biden on the Buckeye State ballot this year. Ohio has a state law that requires Presidential candidates be officially certified by their party 90 days before the general election to be included on the state ballot. But the Dems' convention this year is just 74 days before the election. In past years --- for example, for Donald Trump in 2020 --- lawmakers simply changed the deadline to cure the problem as needed when conventions are held later in the Summer. This year, however, petulant state Republicans are demanding a pound of flesh from Democrats to make any such changes. And now, with last week's deadline past, its going to be even more difficult to do so. Tune in for the full --- and still ridiculous --- skinny.
  • Speaking of ridiculous, a rightwing activist in the state of Washington placed two Democratic candidates for Governor named Bob Ferguson on the ballot last Friday, just hours before the state's August 6th primary deadline. The state's longtime Democratic Attorney General, and front-runner to win the Governorship this year, is also named Bob Ferguson. And so the GOP's dirty tricks chaos for 2024 officially begins.
  • If they can't keep Democratic candidates off the ballot for no good reason, or add several candidates with the same name to the ballot to wreak confusion, Republicans still remember how to do it with good old fashioned voter suppression laws, like the newest one signed last week by Georgia's Republican Governor Brian Kemp.
  • Meanwhile, Democrats are still in court fighting back Republican voter suppression from years ago. On Monday, the newly liberal majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral argument to reverse a ridiculous ruling by the high court's previous rightwing majority that bans the use of secure absentee ballot drop-boxes. That, even as they've been used for years without incident or fraud in the Badger State (or anywhere else, for that matter.) The hearing was encouraging, as even the defendants --- the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission --- agree there is nothing in state law that actually bans their use. "The Commission fully agrees that drop boxes are permitted under Wisconsin statutes," said the Asst. AG representing them at the hearing. But it sure was amusing to hear Republicans argue in favor of stare decisis (respect for legal precedent and settled law) to keep the 2022 ruling in place from the rightwing partisan court just two years ago. Especially when one of the court's liberal justices at the hearing cited none other than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sam Alito's majority opinion in Dobbs that overturned 50 years of Roe v. Wade legal precedent. Using Alito's precise language from the SCOTUS ruling, the WI Justice asked what Republican plaintiffs thought the court should do if they found the previous ruling to be "egregiously wrong".
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as wildfire season explodes in Canada; the world records a record-breaking rise in CO2 levels; and Michigan moves to sue Big Oil for ever-worsening climate damages...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Dr. John Maa; Also: Bannon appeal denied; Giuliani fired; Trial begins for Menendez; Cohen takes stand in Trump's NY criminal case...
By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2024 6:23pm PT  

We've got a whole lotta Trump accountability news (and some for one high-ranking Democrat as well) since we last spoke to you on The BradCast last week. We'll get you up to speed on all of that today, but not before getting caught up on a crazy recount situation out here in the Golden State which I hope does not serve as a precursor to election challenges this Fall. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

The March 5th Super Tuesday primary elections here in California ended in an exact tie in the race to fill the Northern California U.S. House seat being vacated by long-serving, now-retiring Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo in the state's 16th Congressional District.

The exact tie --- with 30,249 votes for each candidate --- was not for first place, but for second place. Since 2010, California has used a Top-Two primary system where all candidates in a race, from any and all parties, run in the same primary. The top two vote getters --- regardless of party --- then move on to the general election in November.

In the CA-16 race, with 11 candidates running in March, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo won with a fairly comfortable 5 point margin. In second place, however, Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and state Assemblymember Evan Low were tied according to the certified results in early April.

Under CA law, that meant all three --- all Democrats in the very left-leaning Bay Area district --- would advance to the general, for the first time in CA's Top-Two primary history. That left all three men seemingly happy enough. Liccardo, in first place, would have his competition split between two competitors and Simitian and Low would each go to the general election. Neither dared asked for a recount, because a single change of even one vote would knock one of the second-place finishers out.

CA law doesn't allow for an automatic, state-funded recount in such closes races (as dozens of other states do). But it does allow any voter to request a recount in any race they like, so long as they are willing to pay for it. If the final recounted results cause a change to the certified results of the election, the requester is supposed to be refunded. At least, in theory.

A guy by the name of Jonathan Padilla sought a recount in the race. He filed on behalf of Low, because you have to file on behalf of one of the candidates, even though Low says he had nothing to do with the request. Padilla, it seems, had worked for first-place finisher Liccardo during his 2014 run for Mayor in San Jose, though not lately. And while Liccardo says he knows nothing about Padilla's effort here, and nobody seems to know who actually funded the recount, it was carried out over several weeks recently in both San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which the 16th CD splits across.

Padilla was initially told that the recount would cost about $320,000 in Santa Clara alone. It would cost another $84,000 to recount in San Mateo, astronomically high numbers in a state which still allows County Registrars to charge pretty much anything they like. Those charges vary wildly from county to county (as we have detailed multiple times over the years) and all votes cast in a race must be re-tallied in order for results to be official recertified.

The costs to Padilla were then largely cut in half once he agreed to a recount by the same computer scanners that tallied the ballots in the initial count, rather than by a manual hand-count wherein results can be known to be accurate.

In any event, please tune in to find out who won the recount (by just 5 votes total!) and why it is that the CA Sec. of State now says Padilla is not due a refund after all, even though the results of the recount changed the results of the election to send just two candidates, instead of three, to this year's general.

We're joined today by DR. JOHN MAA, a San Francisco-based surgeon who was the first voter ever in California to seek and fund a statewide recount of a ballot initiative way back in 2010. He has become a bit of an expert in CA recounts since then, and advised both Low and Simitian during the recent 16th District recount.

Maa explains a number of vulnerabilities in CA's antiquated recount laws that were once again exposed by this latest recount, from seemingly arbitrary costs to requesters in each CA county (making recounts unaffordable to all but the weathiest of voters or candidates), to the concerns about retallying votes by the same computer scanners that tallied them in the first place, to the absurd ruling by the SoS that Padilla should not be refunded for the entire thing.

"Ultimately, I believe that the requester is a hero for Election Integrity," Maa tells me about Padilla. "And they bore the cost of what I believe that the Registrar's office should have done, because their certification of a tie was actually in error."

Tune in for much more.

THEN, in the second half of today's program, we get caught up on a whole bunch of legal woes for Donald Trump and several of his top supporters, as well as accountability for New Jersey's sitting Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, who is accused, along with his wife, of bribery and corruption to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. His criminal trial began jury selection in Manhattan today.

As to the Trumpers, 2016 Campaign Manager and top Trump White House Advisor Steve Bannon's appeal was rejected late last week in the two Contempt of Congress charges he was found guilty of, resulting in a four-month sentence for defying subpoenas from the Congressional Committee investigating the Trump-incited January 6th insurrection. Bannon has a few more appeal options left before he, like White House trade advisor Pete Navarro (already serving four months for the same crime) is sent off to a federal penal facility.

Trump's disgraced 2020 attorney and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani --- who is also facing criminal charges in Arizona and Georgia, a bunch of civil lawsuits and has already been found liable for $148 million for repeatedly defaming two Atlanta poll workers in 2020 --- was fired from his daily radio show gig at WABC in New York. Apparently, the billionaire Republican owner of the station let him go because Rudy refused to stop lying about the results of the 2020 election on air. Sad!

And, also in New York on Monday, Trump's former personal lawyer and "fixer" Michael Cohen finally took the stand to offer pivotal testimony in the disgraced former President's first criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to the falsification of business records meant to hide his White House repayments to Cohen for hush-money given to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 election.

Oh, and a few callers ring in today as well, in another very busy BradCast to kick off the week!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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A veteran reporter speaks out; DHS marshals election defenses; Lara Trump lies about ballots; Johnson lies about 'illegals' voting; Also: MTG's spectacular fail; Stormy wins the day; Biden finally cuts off Israel...
By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2024 6:22pm PT  

On today's BradCast: Why we're taking sides for democracy in this year's election. And why every real journalist should. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among the many stories covered on today's program (and not necessarily in this order)...

  • Journalist John Harwood: "As a Veteran Reporter, I've Always Valued Neutrality. But Trump's Threat To Democracy Should be the Biggest Political Story of 2024"
  • USA Today: "Exclusive: Homeland Security ramping up 'with intensity' to respond to election threats"
  • The RNC, recently taken over by Donald Trump in full, is now little more than an election denialist/voter suppression operation (and, of course, a personal ATM for Trump). They recently fired their newly hired election law expert for not pretending enough that the 2020 election was stolen; New co-chair Lara Trump is taking to Fox "News" to spread disinformation about absentee ballots and ballot counting; House Speaker Mike Johnson is introducing a bill to make it illegal for non-U.S. citizens to vote in federal elections --- which is already illegal --- and claiming that, while there may be zero evidence, "we all know intuitively that a lot of illegals are voting".

Also, some news since we last spoke...

  • Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tried and then failed spectacularly (thanks to help from House Democrats) to remove the Republican House Speaker again.
  • Stormy Daniels completed her testimony in Trump's 2016 election interference case in New York. The cross-examination, according to many reports, did not go well for Team Trump.
  • Joe Biden finally cuts off offensive weapons to Israel for Benjamin Netanyahu's promised threat of a full ground invasion in southern Gaza.

And finally...

  • Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as tornadoes leave trails of destruction in the U.S.; Florida bans "climate change" as hurricane season begins; House Republicans open a new pretend battle in their "War on Woke Appliances"; and U.S. culture finally begins to reflect climate reality...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: 'Warning signs' from IN primary results; Blankenship's run in WV...
By Brad Friedman on 5/8/2024 5:23pm PT  

Once again, on today's BradCast, we've got a mid-week "ketchup" for you, with everything you need to know about the disgraced former President's still-ongoing, first criminal trial. And it's been a very big week in that regard. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, first up today, interesting results out of Indiana on Tuesday, where the "zombie campaign" of Nikki Haley, who quit the race two months ago, still racked up nearly 22% of the vote in the Republican Presidential Primary against Donald Trump. (Joe Biden ran uncontested on the Democratic side.)

Next week's primaries will be in Nebraska, Maryland and West Virginia, where former coal baron and federally convicted criminal Don Blankenship --- a hard-right loon --- has decided to run in the Democratic primary to fill the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by rightwing Democrat Joe Manchin. Blankenship lost as the Republican nominee against Manchin in 2018. This year, as a "Democrat", he'll be running next week in WV against staunch pro-union candidate Glenn Elliot and Marine Corp vet and grassroots organizer Zach Shrewsbury. The winner will likely be taking on current Governor and coal baron billionaire Jim Justice who ran for Governor as a Democrat in 2016 before flipping to Republican in 2017 just after he was elected.

Then, it's on to today's coverage of the past week's criminal Trump Trial in New York, where the former (and future?) President faces 34 felony charges related to hush-money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him win the 2016 Presidential election. Daniels was called by the Prosecution for testimony on Tuesday and, as you likely know by now, it was a bit of a blockbuster.

We're joined today by our old friends HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and longtime blogger at Hullaballoo, and former attorney and former Republican KEITH BARBER, who now blogs on legal and Constitutional matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos website.

Among the topics of today's conversation...

  • Daniels' disturbing testimony about her disturbing, apparently "quasi-non-consensual" (as Barber describes it) sexual encounter with Trump during a celebrity golf event in Lake Tahoe and why specific details of that counter either are or are not important to the Prosecution's case. (Barber: "If Trump invites you to a dinner date, don't expect dinner.")
  • Why Trump's attorneys sought a mistrial on Tuesday, but were rejected by the trial judge.
  • How Team Trump's various over-ruled objections are likely working against them.
  • How the Defense is doing in its attempt, so far, to cross-examine Daniels. (Barber: Trump's team was "too ham-fisted" and "outsmarted by the adult industry star.") The cross continues on Thursday.
  • Why last week's testimony by former, longtime Trump aid Hope Hicks was so important to the State's case, and why she broke down in tears as the cross-examination began. (Parton: "A devastating blow to his defense.")
  • Why Monday's testimony from the Trump Organization's former Controller and its current chief of Accounts Payable was so important to the Prosecution's case.
  • How all of this is being reported (or not) by mainstream media and rightwing media (Parton: "Fox is not covering it. Neither is Newsmax or OAN.") and heard by voters in both cases.
  • Whether the lack, so far, of testimony describing Trump himself as ordering the falsification of business records is going to be a problem for the Prosecution, and whether upcoming testimony by Michael Cohen can fix that.
  • Whether Trump will be held in criminal contempt by the judge for the eleventh time and if he'll actually be given jail time for his next violation of the court's gag-order. (Parton: "Trump doesn't want to go to jail. They don't have hair and makeup people in there." Barber: "He doesn't want to go to jail, no matter how much he'll tell his stupid MAGA followers that he does.")

All of that and much more on today's lively Trump Trial Ketchup show!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Congressional Dems expose depths of Big Oil deception, denial...
By Brad Friedman on 5/2/2024 6:16pm PT  

Today's BradCast is perhaps better listened to than explained. But here's a quick summary and some links for more details. [Audio link to full program follows this summary.]

We focus today on the largely peaceful pro-Palestinian protests that have sprung up on college campuses across the U.S. over the past week or two in response to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's punishing, ongoing assault of Gaza and the Biden Administration's facilitation --- reluctant or otherwise --- of that effort. Our central focus is on the responses to the protests here in the U.S. by counter protesters, media, politicians (including remarks by Joe Biden today), and, most disturbingly, armed riot police who seem to be touching off the bulk of the violence, or at least the eye-catching "if it bleeds it leads" scenes of chaotic confrontations that are easy to show on television news, whether they capture the truth of the moment or not.

As noted, today's program is better listened to than explained, I think. But, among the source material referenced in our coverage...

As usual, I welcome your responses in comments below or via email. If you can keep 'em short and sweet perhaps I'll share them on the show.

Also today, Desi Doyen covers the damning new report [PDF] from Congressional Democrats exposing how the oil industry spent decades deceiving the public and sowing doubt about the dangers of burning the fossil fuels that are the primary drivers of our climate crisis. Internal documents reveal how Big Oil shifted from outright climate denial to a covert strategy of "deception, disinformation and doublespeak" to delay the transition to clean energy and preserve their profits --- publicly professing support for reducing emissions while privately lobbying against climate laws and regulations. The tranche of subpoenaed communications were the focus of a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Wednesday, with expert testimony delving into the details of the oil industry's ongoing efforts to mislead the public about fossil fuels and the climate crisis.

And finally, our latest Green News Report with a bit more on the above, and on the unforgiving costs the world continues to pay for it, including this week with extreme heat and storms in Asia and the oil industry-facilitated plastic pollution crisis across the globe...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/2/2024 10:39am PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Extreme heat and storms grip Asia; New study reveals the 56 major brands responsible for half of global plastic pollution; Negotiations for international plastic pollution treaty end with no limit on production; PLUS: Congressional probe finds Big Oil still trying to deceive the public about the impacts of climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): A bit closer to holding Big Oil accountable; Asia's relentless heat wave is a warning; Increasingly frequent ocean heat waves trigger mass die-offs of sea life; Biden to expand 2 national monuments; Congress needs to stop trying to revive Yucca Mountain; Florida says no to federal funding aimed at greenhouse gas emissions; Minnesota's biggest solar project will help replace a huge coal plant; California's reneable energy roll rolls on... PLUS: Video: Inside the Icelandic plant turning CO2 into rocks ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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2024 needs transformative solidarity to overcome corrupt, authoritarian forces unleashed with the help of past third-party campaigns...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/1/2024 9:35am PT  

At a moment when, as President Joe Biden has aptly warned, both "democracy" and "freedom" will be on the ballot in November, third-party myopia poses a clear and present danger to survival of constitutional democracy in these United States.

Metaphorically, the word "myopia" refers to "cognitive thinking and decision making that is narrow in scope or lacking in foresight or in concern for wider interests or for longer-term consequences." It is a metaphor that, in this current cycle, can be applied to the Presidential campaigns of Green Party candidate Jill Stein, People's Party candidate Cornell West, and the independent candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Third-party myopia lies in the near mathematical certainty that none of these three candidates can secure a single electoral vote, let alone the 270 needed to become the next POTUS. It also lies in the failure of progressive third-party candidates to recognize the potential for "blowback" --- for example, the creation of a supermajority of corrupt, democracy-subverting rightwing SCOTUS ideologues as an unintended consequence of past third-party Presidential campaigns. Myopia can also be found in the polemic canard that there's no ideological difference between the two major parties. That thinking is false on countless levels, but especially when it comes to the very core of our democracy: voting rights. On that score alone, the two major parties are polar opposites.

By their very nature, third-party campaigns are divisive --- a truly unfortunate circumstance at this pivotal moment in our nation's history. But if ever there was a time for We the People to unite in our resolve that, in the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln, "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth", it would be on Nov. 5, 2024. Only "transformative solidarity" can save our precious constitutional democracy.

Here's why...

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NY judge finds Trump in criminal contempt; A 'key' prediction for 2024; UAW wins again; Indicted AZ state Senator rewarded by RNC; Good news for trans people in WV, NC; Biden goes to pot...not a moment too soon...
By Brad Friedman on 4/30/2024 6:56pm PT  

We've got quite a few good news items amidst all the madness on today's BradCast. You may enjoy a few hits of dopamine along the way. Your welcome. Please listen responsibly. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our stories today...

  • Just to help kick things off...American University distinguished professor Allan Licthman has a "13 keys to the White House" method for predicting who will win any Presidential election. His method has accurately called the winners in 9 of the past 10 elections. (In fact, he was arguably right in 10 out of 10!) We discuss his method and, though he's not yet made his "official" prediction this year, who he believes currently has the upper hand in 2024.
  • Donald Trump was found in criminal contempt of court in his New York trial related to his 2016 election interference via hush-money felony charges. Justice Juan Merchan found [PDF] Trump violated his gag order barring attacks on jurors and witnesses via social media and elsewhere in nine different instances. The judge made clear that incarceration is pretty much the only option left by state law if Trump commits new violations. Veteran federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner suggests today's ruling may make things "significantly worse" for the disgraced former President, as the bail conditions in all four of his criminal indictments in four different jurisdictions bar him from committing new crimes. We also get you quickly up to speed on some of the Prosecution's new witnesses on the stand in the actual trial on Tuesday.
  • United Auto Workers' chief Shawn Fain is on a roll. Just over a week ago workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted by a 3 to 1 margin to unionize on the heels of the UAW's huge victories last year in their strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers. The victory by workers at the Tennessee plant was the first of its kind in the South. And then, late last week, the union struck a last minute deal for a new contract with Daimler Truck in North Carolina, bringing big pay raises and major benefit increases to workers at four of the company's plants in the state.
  • As we reported previously, 18 Trump allies in Arizona last week were criminally indicted on nine charges each of conspiracy, fraud and forgery related to their failed attempt to steal the 2020 election for Trump in the state via a Fake Electors plot. Over the weekend, state Sen. Jake Hoffman, one of two sitting state Senators indicted as a Fake Elector, was chosen, just days later, by the Republican National Committee to be an official National Committeeman in the 2024 election. Apparently criminal indictments for election fraud are now being rewarded by today's GOP.
  • The full 4th U.S. Court of Appeals on Monday ruled that West Virginia and North Carolina's decision to refuse health care for transgender people under government-sponsored insurance is discriminatory and a violation of federal law. NC blocked gender-affirming care for state employees and WV Medicaid blocked coverage for gender-affirming surgery. The plaintiffs won in an 8 to 6 ruling at the appeals court, though the thoroughly corrupted and illegitimate U.S. Supreme Court Republican majority will almost certainly have the final say in the matter.
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will finally remove marijuana as a Schedule III narcotic, according to a report by AP today. It will no longer be treated similar to heroin and cocaine, as the Biden Administration plans to finally reclassify the popular plant as Schedule I after 50 years, now that some 38 states have already legalized cannabis for medicinal and/or recreational use. President Biden previously pardoned thousands of Americans charged with simple possession under federal law and urged states to do the same. Democrats in Congress, in the meantime, are pushing the DEA and Attorney General to drop it from the list of controlled-substances entirely to treat it more like alcohol.
  • The news above is one of a spate of newly or soon-to-be finalized regulations from a bunch of Biden Administration Executive Agencies. You may (or may not) have heard news of late about a cascade of new rules issued by the Administration on everything from Student Loan forgiveness to dozens of new environmental and climate-related regulations. There is a reason they are all happening right about now, and it has to do with the Congressional Review Act, which we explain in detail on today's program.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our 1,400th Green News Report! And yes, along with troubling news for Africa and the U.S. Gulf Coast, she's got some historic news of landmark new regulations from the EPA to curb pollution from U.S. power plants. And, yes, that too should be in time to beat GOP abuse of the Congressional Review Act as cited above...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: PA primary results; Biden signs Ukraine aid bill; SCOTUS revisits abortion rights; AZ House Dems repeal 1864 near-total abortion ban...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2024 6:48pm PT  

The court takes Wednesdays off in Donald Trump's New York criminal trial on 34 felony counts related to his use of hush-money paid to a porn star to help him cheat his way to winning the 2016 Presidential election. So, today is a good opportunity for us here on The BradCast to get caught up on our trial story so far with two guests who are following it closely. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, FIRST UP, it was Primary day in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, and though the nominations for both major party's Presidential candidates are long ago all but official, the turnout and results from the Keystone State's closed primaries on both sides are somewhat revealing. Tune in for details, but suffice to say, Joe Biden appears to have outperformed Trump in the narrowly divided battleground state yesterday, where Dem turnout outpaced Republicans and Nikki Haley, who quit the race weeks ago, racked up nearly 17% of the GOP Presidential vote. There were several U.S. House races of note and uncontested primaries for this year's critical U.S. Senate race in PA, where incumbent Democrat Bob Casey is taking on billionaire hedge-fund manager Dave McCormick (who has been less than forthright about his upbringing.)

President Biden signed a long-overdue $61 billion aid package for our democratic allies in Ukraine after overwhelming Senate passage on Tuesday night. That followed on the heels of Saturday's passage in the House by Democrats following an about-face by GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson. The package adopted by Congress and signed by the President today is for $95 billion in all, including funding to replenish Israel's missile defense systems following Iran's attack last week, billions of dollars in humanitarian aid in Gaza, and military aid to Taiwan. The bill also includes a ridiculous measure that may result in the popular social media app TikTok being banned in the U.S.

In reproductive rights (or lack thereof) news, the corrupted far-right majority on the U.S. Supreme Court appeared skeptical during heated Oral Argument on Wednesday over a Biden Administration mandate under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA). The 1986 statute requires hospitals that accept federal medicare funding to offer emergency, life-stabilizing care to all patients who arrive in the emergency room. After SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, the Administration reminded facilities that such care includes abortions when a patient is "in serious jeopardy" or any condition that might impair bodily functions or organs, no matter the state's own restrictions on reproductive care. Idaho disagreed and sued. The packed rightwing supermajority on the High Court was working hard today to side with Idaho.

There was somewhat brighter related news in Arizona on Wednesday when, after three weeks of trying, Democrats in the state's House were finally able to vote to repeal the state's 1864 territorial ban on nearly all abortions. Three Republicans joined all 29 Democrats to repeal the law. The measure still needs passage in the GOP-controlled state Senate, after which AZ's 15-week abortion ban would take the place of the 160-year old near-total ban.

And THEN, we're joined again today our friends award-winning columnist and blogger HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullaballoo and former attorney (and former Republican) KEITH BARBER of Daily Kos to get up to speed on this week's fits and starts in Donald J. Trump's New York criminal trial.

After last week's faster-than-expected jury selection, the trial began with Opening Statements on Monday in which prosecutors described Trump's criminal scheme to hide several sexual affairs just before the 2016 election as "election fraud, pure and simple". On Tuesday morning, during a contempt hearing on at least 10 instances in which Defendant Trump violated the court's gag order against attacking jurors and witness, the judge instructed Trump's attorney Todd Blanche that he was "losing all credibility with the court." Says Barber today: "In a list of phrases that could be the worst to come out of a judge's mouth in the first two days of a trial, that would be right at the top of the list."

On both days, shortened for the Passover holidays, David Pecker, former National Enquirer publisher and longtime friend of Trump, took the stand on behalf of the prosecution to discuss hush-money payoffs he'd arranged as part of an alleged conspiracy with Trump and his attorney Michael Cohen to publish damaging stories about Trump's political opponents and quash stories that might be damaging to him. As Pecker detailed, that included paying off a Trump Tower doorman to shut up about his claim that Trump fathered an out-of-wedlock child with a maid who also worked there, and to "catch and kill" the story of Playboy model Karen McDougal who says she carried on a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant.

Parton describes the first witness in this case as offering several ironies since Pecker "said that their little scheme back in 2015 and 2016 was all fake news. Literally fake news. They made up stories. They killed negative stories about Trump and pushed negative stories that were literally fake news about his rivals. It's like gaslighting to the thousandth power."

Pecker's is expected to continue his testimony on Thursday regarding the $130,000 hush-money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels, which was repaid to Cohen by Trump via monthly installments during his first year in the White House. Those payments became the falsified business records at the center of this trial, as the Trump Organization logged them as legal retainer fees, rather than unreported reimbursements that ran afoul of campaign finance laws, according to prosecutors.

Both Parton and Barber find it curious that, while Trump has been relentless in his attacks on witnesses like his longtime attorney and fixer Cohen, he has not said a negative word about his friend Pecker since the former Enquirer chief signed a cooperation agreement with prosecutors in 2018. She believes there is much more that Pecker knows about Trump above and beyond the scandals he's already detailed in this case. Barber concurs: "There's reason to believe that David Pecker has more of Trump's bodies buried in various places."

Each offer many more thoughts and insights on all of the above, including much more that we've learned over just the first two days of this historic trial, the legal hurdles faced by prosecutors, and what we should expect in the days ahead...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Labor journalist Steven Greenhouse; Also: House finally passes aid package for Ukraine; Prosecutors accuse Trump of 'election fraud' in NY criminal trial opening statement...
By Brad Friedman on 4/22/2024 6:05pm PT  

Nothing but huge news --- all of several different sorts --- on today's BradCast. [Audio link to full show follows below this summary.]

FIRST UP: After months of stalling to the benefit of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and our wannabe dictator former President, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, to his credit, bucked the majority of his own caucus and reversed course last week on Ukraine. The full reason for his sudden about-face remains unclear --- and a majority of his own party still voted against aid to our besieged democratic allies in Europe --- but whatever the reason, it is very good news for both Ukraine and global democracy. The full Democratic caucus in the House backed Johnson's plan to adopt some $95 billion in military, humanitarian and economy aid to Ukraine, Israel (including more than $9 billion in assistance to residents of Gaza), Taiwan and other Indo-Pacific allies. Far-right House Republicans derided the legislation as "America Last" aid to foreign wars and have been threatening to invoke another motion to vacate the Speaker's chair. So far, however, they've failed to pull the trigger.

NEXT UP: The first criminal trial of a former (and perhaps future) U.S. President got underway for reals on Monday in New York, with opening statements presented by both sides in what Prosecutors are characterizing as a 2016 "election fraud" via hush-money case against Donald J. Trump. We step through the opening presentations of each side's case today. NY prosecutors detailed how they intend to demonstrate that Trump, in a panic following the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape, where he boasted about assaulting women, took measures just before the 2016 election to pay off women he was alleged to have had affairs with, including Playboy Model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.

The schemes to silence the women, according to state prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, were carried out via an elaborate conspiracy between Trump, his then attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, and then publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker. The plot involved 34 allegedly falsified business transactions --- including checks signed by Trump while serving in the White House --- disguised as legal retainers to Cohen, rather than reimbursement money for hush-money payments. The Trump Organization couldn’t cut a check to Cohen with the memo "reimbursement for porn star payoff," so "they agreed to cook the books," said Colangelo, to make the payments appear to be for legal services.

The Enquirer produced what prosecutors described as "checkbook journalism" on Trump's behalf to "catch and kill" McDougal's story of a nearly year-long affair with Trump while his wife Melania was pregnant in 2006. And Cohen paid Daniels directly in exchange for signing a $130,000 non-disclosure agreement that prevented her from revealing her 2006 tryst with Trump while Melania was nursing their infant son. "He covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again," Colangelo told the jury, detailing what he characterized as "election fraud, pure and simple."

In Trump's defense, his attorney Todd Blanche made the case that none of the actions described by prosecutors are crimes. "I have a spoiler alert," he told the jury, "there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy."

Prosecutors called Pecker as their first witness on Monday, but the court session was cut short on due to a dental emergency for one of the jurors and a planned early finish to the day due to the Jewish Passover holiday. Pecker is set to return to the stand for the prosecution on Tuesday.

FINALLY: The story that (understandably, given the above) is not getting nearly the attention it deserves today. On Friday, by an overwhelming 3 to 1 margin, workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted to unionize by joining the United Auto Workers. The landmark vote came after a full-court press against it the day before the unionization election was to begin last Wednesday, via an unprecedented joint statement by six Republican southern state Governors. TN's Gov. Bill Lee and the Governors of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas warned in the statement against workers voting to join the union, charging that it would result in jobs leaving the state.

Nonetheless, VW's workers overwhelmingly approved the historic resolution, in what UAW leader Shawn Fain described on Sunday to our guest today, veteran labor journalist and author STEVEN GREENHOUSE of The Guardian, as "the first domino to fall" in what Greenhouse describes as the UAW's "ambitious $40m campaign targeting 13 automakers, including VW, Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Hyundai, with a total of 35 non-union plants across the US."

"It's a very big deal," Greenhouse tells me today. "It's a big deal because unions have had a very hard time organizing the South. Indeed, unions and union leaders are often told 'it's impossible to win the South, don't even bother.' Factory-workers are so worried that if they vote to unionize, the plant will close and move overseas. So this victory really bursts the citadel, breaks down the tradition of all these losses in the South. This finally shows you can win."

In fact, two previous efforts to unionize the same VW plant failed some 10 and 15 years ago. But now, post-pandemic and, most notably, with the rise and inspiration of the UAW's new, charismatic leader Fain, there is renewed action and optimism. "This gives a lot of momentum, a lot of energy and inspiration to autoworkers, and I think to the larger labor movement," says Greenhouse, the author of several books on the subject including his latest, Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present and Future of American Labor.

We discuss, among other things today: why this effort at VW succeeded where previous votes failed; how unprecedented the statement was from those six southern Governors (In Greenhouse's interview with Fain on Sunday, the labor leader called them "liars" and "puppets for corporate America" that "don't give a damn about working-class people...even though workers are the ones who elect them."); how the unionization in the auto industry may inspire similar efforts by workers in other industries for the first time in man years; whether the UAW will actually be able to unionize Tesla, as led by the very anti-union Elon Musk, as well as the other non-union plants being targeted by the UAW around the country, following their wildly successful strike against Detroit's Big Three automakers last year.

One of those targeted non-union plants belongs to Mercedes-Benz in Vance, Alabama where workers are scheduled to hold a unionization vote next month. If both VW and Mercedes are unionized, as Greenhouse reported a Georgetown labor historian observing last week, it would "be nothing less than an earthquake [and] the biggest breakthrough in private-sector organizing in decades."

As noted, some pretty huge news on today's program...

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Also: 12 jurors now seated in Trump's NY criminal trial; NV Supreme Court approves ballot measure to protect 'reproductive freedoms'; OH Republicans still refusing to put Biden on the 2024 ballot...
By Brad Friedman on 4/18/2024 6:49pm PT  

You may be happy to know we don't begin today's BradCast with news about the disgraced former President. But you may be less happy about what we do lead with, especially if you own a home or a car or live on Planet Earth. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Among our many stories today...

  • Recently, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell confirmed that, thanks in no small part to our quickly worsening climate, insurance rates for cars and homes continue to skyrocket. Yes, manmade climate change is a key factor in slowing the decrease of inflation (which, of course, is just one reason Republicans would rather do nothing about it). As the frequency and intensity of weather-related disasters quickens (just ask the folks in New Orleans who were swamped with some 8 inches of rain in a matter of hours last week), the cost of insurance is spiking, becoming unaffordable for many and even unattainable in a number of coastal states. You may soon discover that your home is worth a lot less than you think, thanks to the climate crisis. We step through some of those grim details today, the trillions of dollars it is ALREADY costing Americans, and the even grimmer news about what is still to come unless and until we can end the burning of fossil fuels that is only beginning to wreak so much havoc across the entire globe.
  • We started reporting on this story last week, when it didn't seem like it could really be a story. Well, it's beginning, at least, to look more like it really could be a real story. Ohio's Republican Attorney General has now joined the state's Republican Sec. of State to say they will not allow Joe Biden on the state's ballot this November unless the Democratic Party certifies his candidacy before the state's statutory deadline of August 7. The Democratic National Convention, which is set to officially nominate the President, doesn't happen until August 19. When a similar situation occurred in 2020 --- which might have kept Donald Trump off the ballot --- the GOP state legislature simply changed the statutory deadline for that year. But now, because it's only Democrats whose convention isn't scheduled to take place until after OH's 90-day deadline before the November 5th election, Buckeye State Republicans seem to be suggesting they may actually not put Biden on the ballot...as impossible as that seems to believe. Let the lawsuits begin...
  • The Nevada Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling that had blocked a broad, Constitutional "Reproductive Freedom" measure to protect prenatal care, abortion, vasectomies and infertility care from appearing on this November's ballot in the critical battle ground state. Supporters of the measure are celebrating today, but are also said to be gathering signatures for a second measure that will focus only on abortion rights for this year's ballot.
  • After two of seven previously-seated jurors were dismissed on Thursday morning in Donald Trump's criminal trial in New York, seven more were seated before the day was done. Barring any other dismissals, that fills out the 12 jurors that will be needed to begin the case proper, once six alternate jurors are chosen. The judge admonished the press for reporting enough details about jurors that one who asked to be removed this morning said that friends had been able to identify her from media reports. Also, after prosecutors earlier this week sought sanctions against Trump for three violations of his gag order, they cited another seven incidents since then. That issue will be heard next week. Opening Statements in the trial could begin as early as Monday if the case continues to move briskly forward.
  • Very exciting news is underway in the South this week, specifically in Tennessee, where workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga are now voting to unionize and join the United Auto Workers. Workers at the plant seem confident that the election will be successful. But that's just the first of 13 non-union automakers who are being targeted for unionization by the UAW since labor unions huge victories last year in strikes against GM, Ford and Stellantis (which now owns Jeep and Chrysler). Another election is likely to happen soon at a Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama, with 36 non-union plants targeted in all. If workers are successful in unionizing at both VW and Mercedes in the two southern states, according to one labor historian, it "would be nothing less than an earthquake" for the labor movement and its "biggest breakthrough in private-sector organizing in decades." It apparently has anti-labor Republicans worried. In a joint statement described by one expert as "unprecedented and shocking", six southern state governors, all Republican --- from Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas --- issued a joint statement on the day before voting began at VW, charging that "unionization would put our states' jobs in jeopardy." Kentucky's Democratic Governor, Andy Beshear, by contrast, announced last week that he was "proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder" with the UAW.
  • Finally, in case we didn't frighten you enough with our opening coverage of the catastrophic, climate change-fueled weather driving insurance rates through the roof, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report with much more to frighten you about. But she also has good news for workers as well, and bad news for the fossil fuel industry tools at Fox "News"...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: Alex Mahadevan of Poynter's MediaWise; Also: Trump CFO goes back to jail; GOP chaos, panic in AZ after 1864 abortion ban restored...
By Brad Friedman on 4/10/2024 6:32pm PT  

And we thought the real news sites were bad enough. Now, as discussed on today's BradCast, fake ones, aided by Artificial Intelligence and funded by shadowy rightwingers to surreptitiously promote candidates and rightwing propaganda, are springing to life across the country in advance of this year's critical election. Ain't that all that we need? [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But first up, a few news headlines of note today...

The Trump Organization's long-time Chief Financial Officer, Allen Weisselberg returned to Rikers Island today after serving a 100 day sentence just last year on tax fraud charges related to unreported perks he received over many years from the company. Today, the 76-year old Weisselberg was sentenced to five more months in the pen after pleading guilty to perjury for lying to state prosecutors in testimony and on the witness stand in Donald Trump's recent $454 million civil fraud trial about the size of the disgraced former President's New York apartment. The lie inflated the value of the Trump Tower penthouse on financial statements by some $200 million.

And, in Arizona, the state's all-Republican Supreme Court unleashed havoc on Tuesday --- for both abortion supporters and opponents alike --- when it reinstated a 160-year old near-total abortion ban originally adopted in 1864, before Arizona was a state or women had the right to vote. Many state Republicans, like U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, are now in full panic mode on the heels of the Court approving the law she previously claimed to support. Now, for some reason, she doesn't, as revealed in an incoherent (and hilarious) statement demanding that AZ's Democratic Governor somehow roll it all back, even while Lake also still claims to oppose abortion.

For his part on Wednesday, Donald Trump, who on Monday bragged yet again about his role in overturning Roe v. Wade, both claimed that the abortion issue was now settled to everyone's satisfaction as a states' rights matter, while calling out the AZ Supreme Court for "going too far" in reinstating the 1864 ban on all abortions in the state, with an exception only for saving the life of mother. He insists that the GOP-controlled (for now) state legislature will repeal the ban. But Republicans leaders in both the state House and Senate on Wednesday insisted otherwise, thwarting attempts by Democrats to repeal the antiquated law.

It is all as mad as it sounds. But, despite the havoc this is causing for women and doctors in the state, all of it may turn out to be very good news for Democrats in the battleground state this November. Arizona, and other states, will see ballot initiatives to protect reproductive rights. That is likely to have a remarkable effect on turnout by angry voters.

Of course, that also depends on an educated --- not disinformed --- electorate. And, right now, as the Financial Times recently reported, there is a well-funded scheme underway by rightwing billionaire activists, the Republican Party and fossil fuel interests, among others, to confuse as many people as possible about real news by using real looking "pink slime" websites that push political propaganda while masquerading as legitimate local news sites.

According to media watchdog NewsGuard, as of April 1, there were as many fake "pink slime" websites operating in the U.S., pretending to be real local news outlets, as there were actual, real, local news sites!

We're joined today by ALEX MAHADEVAN, Director at the non-profit Poynter Institute's MediaWise project, which seeks to "empower diverse communities with the skills to identify misinformation."

"The word 'pink slime' encompasses a lot of different types of these algorithmically-generated or poorly reported news websites," Mahadevan tells me. "To me, the 'pink slime' news websites that worry me the most are the ones that aren't necessarily fake news, but have a lot of real news in it. Most of it has been scraped by algorithms from press releases, but then within some of those articles are very biased, misleading articles that favor one candidate or another candidate."

The websites have names like "Chicago City Wire", a cite which doesn't disclose its funding or political purpose other than to say, "Funding for this news site is provided, in part, by advocacy groups who share our beliefs in limited government." At least if you bother to dig deep enough on the site to find that statement.

One of the largest networks of "pink slime" sites is run by an outfit named Metric Media, which claims to feature about 1,000 "local" sites, most of which, according to FT, "do not disclose any political funding or partisan stance, saying that they provide 'data-driven information without political bias.'" Metric Media is reportedly run by a web of shell companies, non-profits and corporate entities linked to three men, "conservative businessman and publisher Brian Timpone, Texas oil billionaire Tim Dunn, and Republican Party adviser Bradley Cameron."

Creation of these sites, according to researchers, is now easier than ever thanks to Artificial Intelligence apps, and comes at a time when social media outlets have cut back on their moderation teams that might otherwise prevent links to such propaganda outlets from proliferating. Instead, the "pink slime" sites are spending millions to advertise on those same social media sites like Facebook, Twitter/X and Instagram.

Mahadevan explains how he was able, in February of last year, to use the free version of the AI app, Chat-GPT, to create such a fake cite. "In about a half hour I was able to generate fake news articles, along with fake news reporters, fake editors, and fake publishers --- along with their headshots --- and create the code and launch a fake news website completely out of thin air. To me, that was really frightening."

All of it, in fact, is frightening --- not only the fake news that is taking the place of real local news reporting, but the loss of those critical local outlets in the first place and what happens to "the soul of these communities when we lose local news outlets," laments Mahadevan, who goes on to warn that all of this is "terrible for democracy."

So what, if anything can be done about it? We discuss that as well on today's somewhat disturbing, if hopefully eye-opening, BradCast...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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A California three-way; Polls shift toward Biden; Republican scam artists pay the price; Trump rejected again in NY criminal fraud case, facing trouble for phony $175M bond in NY civil fraud case...
By Brad Friedman on 4/9/2024 6:36pm PT  

Keep hope alive. We've got a bunch of mostly good news stories for you on today's BradCast! [Audio link to full program is posted at the end of this summary.]

Among those stories today...

  • EVERY VOTE MATTERS: The great state of California has finally wrapped up its month-long tabulation and canvassing following its March 5th Super Tuesday primaries. And, in one race, there's a bit of a first-of-its kind surprise. Ever since 2012, the state has run a top-two primary system, where candidates from all parties run in the same primary race and the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, go on to compete in the general election. This year, however, in a U.S. House race for an open seat in the state's 16th Congressional District, there was an exact tie among the 2nd and 3rd place candidates, who each received exactly 30,249 votes. So, three candidates --- in this case, all Democrats --- will go on to the November general election and its anybody's guess who may win.
  • BIDEN RISING: After months of polls showing Joe Biden trailing Donald Trump in national polling, now that the general election is in sight with Americans finally beginning to understand that --- like it or not --- it will almost certainly be a Biden v. Trump match-up, the polls are finally turning in favor of the President. It's a fairly small shift, but a meaningful one, with a bevy of high quality polls almost all finding Biden either ahead of or tied with Trump. There are lots of caveats for these numbers, as discussed today (for example, it's only April and these numbers could change, and they don't include third-party candidates, etc.), but the general news should come as an encouraging turn of events for those who have been freaked out for months about Biden's performance against Trump in early polling.
  • RIGHTWING DIRTY TRICKSTERS PAY THE PRICE: Bufoonish rightwing clowns Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman, who sent misleading robocalls to thousands of Black voters, lying to them about being arrested and more if they voted in the 2020 election, continue to pay a price for their dumb, offensive, dirty tricks. The pair will now have to pay as much as $1.2 million for their violations of civil rights laws in New York, according to a consent decree struck with the state's Attorney General Letitia James. That follows previous penalties for the pair of a more than $5 million fine by the Federal Communications Commission last year, and two years of probation plus 500 hours of voter registration to which they were sentenced in Ohio, another of several states where their scam played out.
  • MORE RIGHTWING DIRTY TRICKSTERS PAYING A PRICE: A woman named Aimee Harris who pleaded guilty to stealing a diary belonging to President Biden's daughter Ashley Biden before the 2020 election, when she sold it for $40,000 to rightwing dirty trickster James O'Keefe and his nearly-defunct fake "news" outfit called Project Veritas, was sentenced to a month in prison, three in home confinement, two years of probation and to return the money she raised from her crimes. Her partner in the scam, who was smart enough to cooperate with federal authorities, will be sentenced later this year, suggesting that criminal charges may still be in the offing for the disgraced Republican operative O'Keefe. His home was searched by the FBI after the crime initially came to light. Keep hope alive.
  • NOPE: Yet another New York appeals court judge has rejected yet another last-ditch legal attempt by Donald Trump to delay his trial on 34 felony fraud counts related to his hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to help him cheat to win the 2016 election. That criminal trial is now still set to begin with jury selection this coming Monday. In this latest court denial, the NY appellate judge dismissed Trump's motion regarding the partial gag-order against him --- expanded after he identified and attacked the daughter of trial Judge Juan Merchan on social media --- charging the order was somehow "unconstitutional". The bad news for the disgraced former President comes just one day after his bid for a change of venue for the trial was similarly denied by a different appellate judge.
  • YOUR MONEY IS NO GOOD HERE: Last week it appeared that Trump successfully avoided, for now, the seizure of his property as he appeals his liability in New York's $454 million civil fraud judgment against him. He was allowed to file a reduced bond for just $175 million with the state. As it turns out, however, there are a lot of problems with that bond, as secured from a sleazy California outfit known as Knight Specialty Insurance Company. A LOT of problems. More and more of which have been coming to light ever since NY A.G. Tish James, last week, informed the judge in the case that Trump's bond appears to be deficient. Among those problems: the surety company is not licensed to issue bonds in New York; the company does not have enough "capital and surplus" to meet state standards (or even cover the amount of the bond!); and the bond itself appears to suggest Trump is responsible for the $175 million dollars, rather than Knight, which is not an actual bond at all. A hearing on the matter is scheduled in NY civil court for April 22.
  • HAPPY ENDING: Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with news on what scientists suggest could be a terrifying hurricane season; good news for California's mountain snowpack; disturbing news about the Colorado River water supply; and some long-overdue good news from the Happiest Place on Earth...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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