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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, September 16, 2019
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: 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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(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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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...

* * *
While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Guest: 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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Also: 2020 candidate shuffle; GA dodges voting system security test; L.A. County Clerk goes mum on new voting system; Much more...
By Brad Friedman on 8/22/2019 6:28pm PT  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Callers ring in on the upcoming testimony of the former Special Counsel; Also: Are they nuts? More on the insane move to 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting in Philly and L.A. for 2020...
By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2019 5:57pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we open up the phone lines to listeners on a number of things, most notably to hear what listeners expect from this week's upcoming, long-awaited U.S. House testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller regarding his 448-page report on Russia's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election and the ten or more instances of criminal obstruction of justice by President Trump detailed within. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Mueller's testimony during hearings on Wednesday --- three hours in the House Judiciary Committee and two hours before the House Intelligence Committee --- will be the last chance for pro-impeachment Dems to swing the sentiments of both the nation and Democratic leadership toward opening an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump before Congress leaves for its long 6-week recess next week. Callers ring on on what they expect and hope (or don't) from the proceedings.

As you can imagine, Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi --- who, so far, has blocked an official impeachment inquiry by her caucus in the House despite Trump's multiple felonious High Crimes and misdemeanors and in defiance of 100 or so Democratic members on record calling for impeachment --- came up quite a few times today from callers, both negatively and, in at least one instance, positively.

Also on today's program, a quick recap from key points made during our important --- and, at times, gob-smacking --- interview on Friday's program with cybersecurity and voting systems expert Kevin Skoglund on the dangerous new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems currently set for use in Philadelphia, in the key swingstate of Pennsylvania before next year's Presidential election, and how some of the new system's worst, most dangerous and unverifiable features are also found in the new 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems being brought into Los Angeles next year.

Thanks to citizen-led efforts like those by Skoglund and Citizens for Better Elections and the Protect Our Vote Philly coalition, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania is now reviewing its previous certification of the horrible and easily manipulated computer Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) currently set for use in Philly. That re-examination may ultimately lead to decertification of those systems.

Meanwhile, here in Los Angeles, the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, The BradCast and BradBlog.com have been pretty much the only ones publicly yelling and screaming about the serious (and completely misunderstood-by-the-media --- see this ridiculous headline and article!) dangers of moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen BMDs in advance of the critical 2020 Presidential election.

We also discuss the fact that, in addition to being completely unverifiable and easily manipulated, the cost of BMDs systems is at least twice the price of hand-marked paper ballots systems. In fact, one caller rings in with information to tell me that the $200+ million price-tag I cited for the new systems in L.A. was actually a low-ball estimate, according to L.A.'s actual contract with private voting system vendor Smartmatic [PDF]. That contract, she notes, specifies the price for moving L.A. to these new systems will be closer to $300 million! That, in a county that could desperately use funds for things like housing tens of thousands currently living on the streets and long-overdue infrastructure improvements among many other things...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Typhoid Fever, Bubonic Plague make a comeback in L.A. at the bleeding tip of the spear of epidemic U.S. homelessness, despair...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/1/2019 9:35am PT  

Notwithstanding Donald Trump's 4-Pinocchio claim that low-end wages are on the rise, there is an ample body of evidence that wealth inequality has reached levels not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. Those who study the issue often compare the financial holdings of the privileged few to those of the many.

A 2017 study, for example, revealed that just three individuals – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos – had, at that point, held as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the American population --- some 160 million people. It's a wealth gap that continues to grow exponentially.

Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is the Ebenezer Scrooge-like poster child for obscene wealth disparity. Last year, Bezos agreed to pay Amazon employees $15 per hour wages, but only after sustained pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who introduced the StopBezosAct.

At $15 per hour, a full time, 40 hour per week Amazon employee would earn $31,200 per year, before taxes. How generous! According to Business Insider, every 60 seconds, Bezos earns $149,353. That's more than four (4) full-time Amazon employees collectively earn in a year. Bezos' per minute earnings are $56,000 higher than the $93,170 in annual earnings an individual would have to make in order to be placed within the top 10%.

In the minds of most people, $215 million looks like an enormous sum of money, and it is. Business Insider reports that Bezos rakes in $215 million per day, every day, and more than $6.5 billion per year. Amazon, which reported $11.2 billion in earnings last year, did not pay one dime in federal taxes.

While these numbers are essential to understanding our gaping inequality problem, they really don't do much by way of exposing what life is like for those at the bottom end of the scale, to wit: the homeless, who, to many, are simply "invisible" .

In a recently released report (see below) titled, "Paradise Lost", Eric Johnson of Seattle ABC News affiliate, KOMO, takes an in depth look at what wealth disparity has wrought for those at the very bottom --- the 59,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. Not mentioned by Johnson is that 11% of those struggling to survive without a roof over their heads are U.S. military veterans. The numbers of individuals in L.A. who are slipping into the homeless abyss, according to Johnson, are increasing --- by 16% over the previous year.

Johnson focused on what he described as "the worst man-made disaster in the United States" --- "53 square blocks of suffering and mental illness and drugs on a level that is hard to fathom." For the homeless of L.A., conditions may be even worse than those experienced during the Great Depression. They face what Johnson described as "the long-ignored cousin of addiction and homelessness: disease."

"We have not seen conditions for humans like this since medieval times. Period. And that's a fact," Dr. Drew Pinsky told Johnson. He is, literally, correct...

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




Also: Sestak jumps in; SCOTUS says trademark law is 'FUCT'; Pence defends squalid conditions for detained children; Even NC knows hand-marked paper ballots are needed, so why doesn't L.A. County?; Callers ring in on the Dem 'horse race' before this week's two-night Dem debate...
By Brad Friedman on 6/24/2019 6:29pm PT  

We've largely stayed away from the "horse race" on the Democratic side of the 2020 Presidential race to date, preferring, as we're wont, to focus on more immediate issues, as well as the "track conditions" on which the horses are set to run next year. But on today's BradCast, we finally open the phones to turn to the horse race a bit, in advance of this week's first 2020 Presidential debates.

But first, a few news items of note. Among the stories covered today before we turn to the phones....

  • Were you thinking that 23 or 24 candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination just wasn't enough? Were you hoping one more white male from a swing-state might enter the race? Well, retired three-star Navy Vice Admiral, former Pennsylvania Congressman and failed U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak may be the man for you!;
  • In U.S. Supreme Court news, the Justices released an opinion today finding that the decades-old federal statute preventing the issue of trademarks to brands determined to have "scandalous" or "immoral" names is, in fact, an unconstitutional violation of the Free Speech clause. That will be good news to lifestyle brand FUCT which had been denied a trademark registration for years. In her opinion for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan also may have offered a preview, according to Mark Joseph Stern, of, at least, her opinion on the Court's upcoming crucial ruling on partisan gerrymandering, as she noted that free speech cannot be denied on the basis of viewpoints or ideas conveyed. The challengers in the two partisan gerrymandering cases pending before the Court --- with a decision due any day now --- are arguing that state political opponents are seeing their voting power diluted by the party in power on the basis of their political viewpoints when it comes to the partisan gerrymandering of maps for the U.S. House and state legislatures;
  • In a follow-up to our Friday program's segment focused on horrific conditions for migrant children detainees on the border, Vice President Mike Pence was on CNN Sunday, working very hard to filibuster and otherwise avoid Jake Tapper's direct questions about the Administration's argument --- offered last week in federal appeals court --- that denying soap and toothbrushes to children forced to sleep on freezing concrete under a single foil blanket in overcrowded facilities somehow qualifies as "safe and sanitary" conditions for those children, as required by federal courts. Late today, some good news on that front, as nearly 300 children at a "squalid" Texas facility --- featuring lice, the flu, kids who hadn't showered in weeks, and detained children asked to take care of infants and toddlers --- have now been transferred out of at least that horrific facility...at least for now;
  • Then, with one failure after another after another in North Carolina's elections in recent months and years, even the former counsel for the North Carolina state Board of Elections is now calling for HAND-MARKED paper ballots for every voter. So why isn't the state of Georgia? Why isn't the city of Philadelphia in the key swing-state of PA? Why is the nation's largest voting jurisdiction, Los Angeles County, now moving from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) in advance of the 2020 Primaries? And why is Mitch McConnell in the U.S. Senate blocking any and all legislation that would increase election security by, among other things, mandating a hand-marked paper ballot for all voters? We discuss. Again;
  • Then, we open up the phone lines to callers, with the broad questions in advance of the first 2020 Democratic Presidential debate this week: What will our listeners be looking for in this Wednesday and Thursday's two-night face-off among 20 candidates? What is the most important factor they hope to find in a Democratic nominee? Who do they like so far and who do they not like? We offer the chance to advocate --- or bash --- any of the candidates callers may wish, along with the question: Would they vote for a nominee they may not like in the general election, rather than hand Donald Trump a nation- and planet-devastating second term? We got a lot of good callers and interesting thoughts from them along the way...

Please enjoy today's very lively show!...

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Guest: Former Dep. Asst. AG Lisa Graves; Also: Acting SecDef withdraws nomination; S. America power grid collapse did not prevent voting; Swing district Rep. Porter calls for impeachment proceedings...
By Brad Friedman on 6/18/2019 6:24pm PT  

I've had a lot of legal questions swirling through my head in recent weeks as Trump and his minions have expanded their attempts at blocking all Congressional investigations of his many crimes. On today's BradCast, despite the unprecedented and ever-changing nature of what Trump is attempting, I get a bit of clarity from a guest with a long background in legal, legislative and executive matters regarding all three branches of the federal government. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, however, some quick news of the day. Donald Trump's Acting Sec. of Defense Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has withdrawn his formal nomination after reported difficulties obtaining a standard FBI background clearance due to a history of domestic violence with his former wife. Former Raytheon lobbyist and Trump's Sec. of the Army Mark Esper has been tapped, for now, as the new Acting SecDef.

The widespread --- and still-unexplained --- failure of the electrical grid in Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay over the weekend that affected tens of millions in South America, did not, at least, prevent gubernatorial elections from continuing on Sunday in Argentina, where they wisely use HAND-MARKED paper ballots. The election was uninterrupted despite the outage, as voting was able to continue as usual, even if voters needed to rely on mobile phone flashlights in order to see their ballots while filling them out by hand. That, by way of contrast with the utter havoc and chaos that would result from a similar outage or cyber-attack on the U.S. power grid during an election next year, with dozens of states relying on computer voting systems and electronic poll books, including a number of jurisdictions such as Los Angeles County (the nation's largest), which are set to move from hand-marked paper ballots to 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in advance of the 2020 Presidential primary elections. What could possibly go wrong?

Freshman Democratic U.S. House Rep. Katie Porter announced on Monday night that, after weeks of careful consideration, she has decided to call for an official impeachment inquiry of Donald Trump. Her announcement is significant in that Porter narrowly won election last year in Republican-leaning Orange County, California, defeating her incumbent GOP opponent by just over three points. With more than 65 Democratic members in the House (and one Republican) now calling for impeachment proceedings, Porter is one of only two Democrats from closely divided swing districts where GOP incumbents were ousted last November to call publicly for beginning the Constitutional process of impeachment of our criminal President.

At the same time, the Trump Administration has spent months following the release of the damning, redacted Special Counsel's report from Robert Mueller [PDF], exercising all manner of legal schemes and Presidential tricks to try and obstruct the Congressional investigation of the many criminal obstruction offenses by Trump detailed in Mueller's report. The Administration, with the aid of his new Attorney General and fixer William Barr, has invoked so-called Executive Privilege over the entire report (even the already released material) in an attempt to prevent the unredacted report and its underlying evidence from being disclosed to Congress and the American public. They've also used Executive Privilege to try and block lawful Congressional subpoenas of current and former White House officials, many of whom cooperated as witnesses with the Mueller probe, in hopes of preventing them from testifying in the House or turning over subpoenaed documents. Barr's DoJ has gone so far this week as to offer a legal claim that the IRS need not turn over Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee in defiance of a decades-old statute requiring the IRS to do so. Trump's private attorneys have attempted to block Congressional subpoenas for the President's financial documents at his accounting firm Mazars and at Deutsche Bank, and, during a recent interview with ABC News, Trump said his own FBI Director was "wrong" for insisting that candidates contact the FBI if they are approached by foreign nationals with opposition research on their political opponents.

Those, of course, are just some of the ways that Trump continues to obstruct justice and defy the rule of law. But what are the chances that he will ultimately succeed in his attempts to obstruct Congress? We're joined today by LISA GRAVES, who has worked as a senior advisor in all three branches of the federal Government, to help us better understand some of the key elements of Trump's crimes and his attempts to invoke measures to block accountability for them.

Graves, the co-founder of the non-profit Documented, formerly served as Deputy Asst. Attorney General at the Dept. of Justice, General Counsel in the US Senate, and former Deputy Chief for the US Court system. On today's program, she explains the seriousness of obstruction crimes; how "Executive Privilege" has been invoked by Presidents (successfully or otherwise) in the past, and what the privilege really is and isn't (hint: it's not actually a statutorily or Constitutionally defined thing); whether it's actually possible or justifiable to prevent the disclosure of Trump's tax returns under the DoJ's new pretext; and whether she believes Trump should be impeached.

On criminal obstruction, says Graves: "The fact is that obstruction is a very serious crime. I suppose that if they really wanted to know how serious obstruction is, they could call Nixon back from the grave to ask him how serious this is."

On Barr's collusion with Trump: "It's truly a shame, quite frankly, that under the broken Senate led by Mitch McConnell, that Barr was confirmed to this role that he was most undeserving to hold. And that he now holds basically as a lapdog to this President, willing to his bidding, and to really subvert the true mission of this Justice Department."

On Trump's broad attempted use of Executive Privilege: "The idea that any President could somehow assert privilege over revealing evidence of his own potential obstruction of justice, the crime of obstruction, is simply astounding...There's simply no way that any reasonable interpretation of whatever that privilege might or might not be, would allow a President to hide from Congress --- which expressly has powers under our Constitution to impeach a President and to try a President --- to hide evidence from that Congress that has those express powers to hold a President accountable."

But, on that last point, she offers some "hesitation" thanks to "this Supreme Court which has been stacked by McConnell and the dark money which backs him." I'm also happy to hear her correctly note that "this court is not truly conservative, they are radically reactionary."

Graves also responds to my question about the recent statement from the chair of Federal Elections Commission, Ellen Weintraub, issued in response to Trump's assertion that he needn't contact the FBI if approached by a foreign national with dirt on a political opponent. Weintraub's statement clarified that "It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election." But, isn't that precisely what the Hillary Clinton Campaign (and a Republican primary campaign before it) did during the 2016 election by soliciting oppo-research on Donald Trump from former British spy Christopher Steele? I discuss that and much more with Graves today.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with more details on Sunday's South American power grid failure, news of a reported U.S. cyber-offensive against the Russian power grid, bad climate change-related news for the Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone", and some very good news from outgoing conservative British Prime Minister Theresa May who is vowing to commit the UK to the world's most aggressive targets to combat our climate crisis by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions while boosting the nation's economy at the very same time...

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

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2020 voting concerns coming to light; GOP gerrymandering helped make Virginia Beach massacre possible; The impeachment debate continues; Plus: Listener calls!...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2019 6:10pm PT  

Today's BradCast is as lively as it is maddening in equal measures. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's program (during which we also opened up the phones to callers for the first time in a long time!):

  • San Antonio's 97-year old former Mayor and political icon Lila Cockrell was turned away from the polling place during the city's Mayoral runoff election last week for lack of the type of ID now required to vote in the Lone Star State. Cockrell was the city's 4-term mayor and its first female chief executive in a city where she is known by all, regarded as a bit of a legend, and even has buildings named after her. But, last week, despite showing her voter registration ID card at the polls --- which, until SCOTUS gutted much of the Voting Rights Act --- used to be enough to vote in Texas --- she was turned away. It's not the first time Texas has made it incredibly difficult for nonagenarian WWII veterans (like Cockrell) and both political icons and non-icons alike to cast a vote under purposely disenfranchising, unconstitutional polling place Photo ID restrictions. Sadly there are more than 600,000 legally registered Texans who also do not possess the very specific type of ID now required to vote in the state;
  • We also catch up, briefly today, on the mass shooting that happened last Friday in Virginia Beach which resulted in 12 killed at a municipal building by a shooter with several semi-automatic pistols and extended magazines. Democrats in the state have been trying for years to introduce gun safety measures, such as those that would limit the sale of extended magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. Alas, a decade of Republican gerrymandering has made such measures virtually impossible to enact in VA, even though more Democrats voted in the last election legislative election than Republicans, as the GOP retains its lock on both chambers in the statehouse thanks to bastardized voting maps;
  • Then it's on to matters of impeachment once again, as Republicans continue to make the best public case for it of late, with Trump's 2020 Republican primary challenger, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld being just the latest GOPer over the weekend to call for accountability for our scofflaw President. Also, since many Americans (particularly those who only follow fake news outlets such as Fox "News") still appear completely unaware of the many crimes by Donald Trump, meticulously detailed in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report, we'll need to keep talking about ourselves, apparently. Hopefully Democratic U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who continues to block an official impeachment inquiry, will soon get the message and allow such a proceeding among her caucus in the House;

And with that --- and throughout today --- we take a bunch of calls from listeners on all of the above! Enjoy!...

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

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Obama's Veep goes straight after Trump in campaign kickoff; Hillary's recommendations after Mueller; Kellyanne's husband wins Twitter, owns Trump; MI GOP district maps ruled unconstitutional gerrymanders; Nielsen was rebuffed in attempts to protect 2020 election from Russia...
By Brad Friedman on 4/25/2019 6:11pm PT  

We've got a lot of news and notes of concern --- both good and bad --- about the 2020 elections on today's BradCast. [Audio link posted below.]

Among the many stories covered today...

  • Former Vice-President Joe Biden finally announces that he's getting into the crowded 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination. His "stirring" announcement video takes on Donald Trump directly, in a way that other candidates have largely avoided to date. Whether that will be a winning strategy, of course, remains to be seen for the man many consider to be a front-runner at this early point in the contest;
  • Hillary Clinton pens a worthy op-ed in the Washington Post, with her personal recommendations on how to best take on the question of whether Trump should be impeached in the wake of damning findings of criminality by the President in Robert Mueller's Special Counsel report, as well as how best to work to protect the 2020 election from interference --- at least from foreign sources;
  • George Conway, the conservative attorney husband of White House senior adviser/Trump apologist Kellyanne Conway, once again wins Twitter by citing Clinton's oped to slam both the President and, by extension, his own dissembling wife. He also cites another article detailing yet another new international embarrassment courtesy of Trump, to help his new, apt moniker for the President, #DerangedDonald, trend on Twitter;
  • Big news out of Michigan breaking today as a three-judge federal court panel finds district maps created by GOP state legislators in 2011 to be unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. The court has now ordered the state to redraw as many as 34 state legislative and Congressional districts and even hold a number of special state Senate elections under the new maps in 2020, rather than in 2022 as previously scheduled. Though a decade or so late, it's still very good news for Michigan voters, though Republicans plan to appeal in hopes of stalling until the U.S. Supreme Court comes down with their verdict on two other cases of similar partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland this June;
  • The New York Times publishes a very disturbing --- if not surprising in the least --- exposé revealing that recently-fired DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was rebuffed, time and again, by Donald Trump and other senior White House officials, in her efforts to convene cabinet level meetings on a strategy to protect the 2020 election from cyber-manipulation by Russia and other foreign sources. The exceedingly insecure Trump, according to the report, sees any such efforts to harden defenses against the threat of cyber-intrusions by Russia as a way of casting doubt on the legitimacy of his 2016 victory...for some reason;
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as the second monster cyclone in a month bears down on Mozambique (the one just weeks ago killed a thousand people and has resulted in an extraordinary humanitarian crisis --- this new one could be even worse), along with other troubling climate change news from around the globe as well as some encouraging news here at home as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announces plans for the city's very own Green New Deal...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 4/25/2019 11:06am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Mozambique, already facing a humanitarian crisis, braces it's second monster cyclone in one month; Loss of Arctic permafrost could cost the global economy trillions; More than a thousand arrested as massive climate protests end in London; PLUS: Los Angeles moves ahead with its own Green New Deal to combat climate change... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): At what point should you start freaking out about climate change? Right now; Fox News has united the right against the Green New Deal. The left remains divided; After years of progress, the number of Americans breathing polluted air is rising; The UK has seen a record number of fires this year, and it's only April; Farmers could be crushed by climate change --- or not; Thousands of penguin chicks wiped out; Stop denying the risks of air pollution; As floods increase, cities like Detroit are looking to green stormwater infrastructure; Facebook fact-checker has ties to climate doubt... PLUS: Nearly half of young Americans say climate change is a "crisis" requiring "urgent action"... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Slate's Mark Joseph Stern; Also: Trump panics over impeachment, sets course for Constitutional crisis by blocking lawful subpoenas...
By Brad Friedman on 4/24/2019 6:39pm PT  

On today's BradCast, Donald Trump's Administration is now barreling the nation towards one or more unprecedented Constitutional crises as he panics about the possibility of impeachment. But the fruits of the GOP's labor in violating Constitutional norms to steal a majority on the U.S. Supreme Court may now finally be set to pay off for them for at least the next decade. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]

First up today, however, some quick election results following a few contests around the country on Tuesday. In a Special Election for a vacated state Senate seat in Tennessee, Republican Bill Powers reportedly defeated Democrat Juanita Charles. The result wasn't a surprise in a state where the GOP now enjoys a supermajority in both chambers of the General Assembly. But Powers is said to have won by just under 10 points. That's a 13-point swing towards the Democrats in a very Republican district from what would normally be expected.

In Tampa, Florida former police Chief Jane Castor was elected by a 73% landslide to become the city's first openly gay Mayor, the first to lead a major city in the U.S. Southeast. The victory comes less than one month after the openly gay Lori Lightfoot was elected Mayor in Chicago. Castor was outspent 2 to 1 by her opponent, David Straz, a 76-year old banker who wasted $5 million of his own money on the race and also outspent the other seven candidates combined in last month's primary.

Back in D.C., the U.S. House General Counsel filed a motion in federal court seeking to block Trump's re-appropriation of some $6 billion from the Defense Department to build his wall on the Southern border. The House --- which voted, along with the Senate, to block Trump's "national emergency" declaration and his re-allocated spending, only to be vetoed by the President --- argues that Trump's actions are unconstitutional as contracts are being awarded and money spent to build and repair border barriers with funding that "Congress did not appropriate for that purpose."

But federal judges who actually believe in following the Constitution may be in shorter supply these days, as Trump and the GOP have packed the courts with "conservatives" of convenience --- jurists who claim to believe in one set of principles but follow a radically different path when it suits their political whims. Trump is counting on such activist judges as he announces his Administration is now blocking all White House and other executive agency officials from responding to lawful document demands and subpoenas issued by Congress. In just the past 24 hours, the Administration has directed several current and former officials to not respond to lawful Congressional subpoenas for testimony and has denied statutory requests for financial documents of Trump and a number of his companies. Trump also, on another Twitter tear today, vowed to seek help from his stolen SCOTUS in the event that he is impeached.

Our guest today, MARK JOSEPH STERN, legal reporter for Slate, offers insight on all of the above, before we focus on the even more disturbing news regarding Tuesday's oral arguments at the Supreme Court regarding the Commerce Department's attempt to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census.

Stern, who was present at the Court for argument on Tuesday, suggests the outlook is not encouraging. He tells me he counted five rightwing Justices who appear eager to overturn three lower court rulings which found Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross lied about his reasons for unlawfully directing the Census Bureau to add the question despite objections from career Census professionals who advise that the question would result in a massive under-count of Hispanic and immigrant populations.

The decennial count of all "persons" in the U.S., (as the Constitution requires), may be off by as many 6.5 million people if the question is added, largely in areas that tend to vote Democratic, according to the experts. The result would be felt for the next decade --- particularly in Democratic-leaning cities and states --- as the Census is used to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars in federal spending, as well as how Congressional and state legislative districts are mapped and residents represented, and even how electoral votes are to be allocated.

"This was just a real bloodbath for the plaintiffs here," Stern tells me about Tuesday's oral argument. "This case should have been so simple. Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce lied about his reason for including a citizenship question on the Census. He lied, and he got found out. He is the one who asked the Justice Department to create some pretext for the citizenship question. And beyond that, Ross busted through a bunch of statutory roadblocks that are supposed to prevent the inclusion of gratuitous questions on the Census."

"The lower court in this case said, 'I count Wilbur Ross violating the law in at least six separate ways.' The Supreme Court only has to find one of those ways to be compelling to stop the citizenship question and say no," Stern laments. "But I don't think a majority of the court is willing to step in and stand up for the law. And I fear the reason is because they know exactly why the Trump Administration wants the citizenship question on the Census."

Stern details what he describes as hypocrisy displayed by the Court's five Republican Justices during argument, as they cited everything from the Voting Rights Act (which they voted to gut) to international law (which they have dismissed as having no basis in U.S. law) to deference to federal agencies (which they have famously undermined in recent years when it comes to environmental regulations and other disputes where courts had traditionally deferred to executive agency expertise) in posing questions that indicate they plan to approve the new question meant to rig the Census. "It was a very bad day for truth at the Supreme Court," Stern reports.

"Hypocrisy doesn't even begin to capture what this is," he argues. "I can only hope that Kavanaugh and Gorsuch begin to apply international law in death penalty cases, as well. But something tells me this is a ticket good for one ride only."

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report (after we ran out of time for it yesterday) with another troubling mix of both good news and bad for the nation and the planet...

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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