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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 18, 2021
Sunday 'Anti-Faxxers' Toons
Innoculate yourself with another shot in the arm from PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best fact-based toons...
Taking the 'DUH' Out of Floriduh: 'BradCast' 4/16/21
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Rep. Ted Deutch and journalist Ryan Grim...
Corporations Pretend to
Stand Up for Democracy:
'BradCast' 4/15/21
Guest: Pulitzer Prize-winning biz journalist Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown detail on alleged 2016 election interference...
'Green News Report' 4/15/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
US threat assessments finds climate change a clear, present danger; Japan to dump radio-active water in ocean; Biden undoing Trump damage; PLUS: France to ban short flights...
Previous GNRs: 4/13/21 - 4/8/21 - Archives...
Biden's Infrastructure Plan Begins End of Govt Socialism for Fossil Fuel Industry: 'BradCast' 4/14/21
Guest: David Roberts of Volts; Also: DHS knew Capitol was 'target'; Biden to end 'forever war'...
'Both Sides'? Really, Liz?: 'BradCast' 4/13
New data shows stunning rise in RW domestic terror; Also: US 'out' of Afghanistan by 9/11/21; J&J vaccine 'paused'; Cop, police chief resign in MN; Appalling video shows VA cops pepper-spraying black service member in car...
'Green News Report' 4/13/21
Western drought worsens before fire season, water cuts; CA's fire prevention plan; EV battery company settlement; PLUS: NOAA predicts bad 2021 hurricane season...
The SCOTUS-Approved, FCC Ownership Rule Catch-22: 'BradCast' 4/12/21
Guest: Sue Wilson of the Media Action Center; Also: More news from vaccination nation; More corporate pushback against vote suppression...
SCOTUS Approves FCC Rule to Allow Further Consolidation of Local Media Outlets
The FCC, under Trump, created a Catch-22 on new rule, requiring private research to counter hidden public data...
Sunday 'Avoid the Politicks' Toons
PDiddie's Springtime reminder to avoid 'blood-sucking insects' in his latest collection of the week's best toons...
GOP 'Legislative' Agenda Now Carried Out by Activist SCOTUS: 'BradCast' 4/9/21
Guest: Court expert Ian Millhiser; Also: Amazon union vote loses in AL; Biden's new SCOTUS reform Comm.; Hating on Cruz and Graham...
'Green News Report' 4/8/21
Biden on dumb GOP infrastructure attacks; Abandoned oil, gas wells loom; Treasury to help private sector decarbon-ize economy; PLUS: GM's all in on EV future...
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 4/7/2021 10:03pm PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: President Biden responds to Republican attacks on his infrastructure jobs plan; New analysis warns of looming wave of abandoned oil and gas well; Treasury to leverage private spending to decarbonize economy; PLUS: GM goes all in on all-electric future... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

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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): Don't watch Netflix's 'Seaspiracy'; Sea level rise is killing trees on the Atlantic Coast, creating 'ghost forests' visible from space; NOAA scientists alarmed at surging atmospheric CO2, methane; Wyoming bills to slow coal plant closures, including suing other states for moving away from coal; Even the Great Lakes' deepest waters are now warming; PG&E faces criminal charges for 2019 CA fires; Florida crisis highlights nationwide risk from toxic waste ponds; Climate deniers regulating Texas oil and gas have avoided blackout scrutiny... PLUS: In the Heartland: Clean energy has to make its case... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Also: Drought returns to CA; De-Trumpification of the EPA...
By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2021 6:50pm PT  

If only lawmakers in GOP-run states gave as much of a damn about their own residents as they do for the corporations which fund their campaigns. If only those corporations gave as much of a damn about their own customers as they do about the possibility of being boycotted and losing profits. Or, as my dad used to say, if only the Queen had balls she'd be the King. [Audio link to today's full BradCast is posted below this summary.]

It's a very busy and very lively show today. Among the stories we cover, if you are clever enough to tune in...

  • The growing cost of climate change continues, as California, just a few years after the end of a punishing five-year drought, appears to be headed back into another. Thanks to investments and conservation techniques enacted last time, perhaps this one won't be as bad. We'll see. But it won't keep the wingnuts from whining about it and trying to falsely blame Democrats anyway.
  • Emails obtained by Documented and reported by NBC News today reveal that talking points circulated by a climate change denying fossil fuel industry lackey were behind the misinformation spread by Texas officials falsely blaming wind and solar energy when the state's power system froze up and collapsed during a winter storm in February. The false claims were spread at lightning speed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, the fully captured Commissioners on the state's utility board, the wingnut media and, of course, other oil and gas lobbyists. Aside from billions of dollars in damages, the state's own failures in deregulation and privatization (and lack of winterization) of its electric grid, resulted in the deaths of at least 111 Texans according to the state's newly revised --- and nearly doubled --- death toll. Many of them died from hypothermia in their own homes. And no, it was not the fault of clean, renewable energy in any way.
  • Meanwhile, in Georgia, pushback against a massive voter suppression law enacted in record time last week by Republicans in the state legislature is bringing shame not only to GOP lawmakers and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, but to the major corporations --- some headquartered in the state --- which failed to take action to speak out against the democracy-undermining measure until it was too late. Or, at least until boycott efforts against the companies began to emerge. Over the past 24 hours, following a statement of outrage by more than 70 Black corporate executives decrying GA's new law, companies such as Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Apple have all begun falling over themselves to express the "outrage" they failed to muster before passage of the bill --- or even in the full week since it was signed into law. In the wake of the new corporate blowback, rather than take actions to rollback the voter suppression, Republican state legislators have decided to attack the companies for (belatedly) coming out in support of democracy. The GOP-dominated state House of Representatives even went so far as to abuse their power on Wednesday night to adopt a punitive tax increase on one of the GA-based companies which belatedly decided to speak up against voter suppression.
  • Even as the blowback came fast and furious against Georgia's Republicans over the past 24 hours, the great, deregulated state of Texas decided they wanted some of that "love" as well. Republicans in their state legislature are now moving to enact similar voter suppression schemes to the ones decried in the Peach State. Will the corporations stand up against such laws in the Lone Star State and elsewhere before they're adopted this time? We hope so, but we'll see. Obviously these politicians don't give a damn about their actual constituents. But maybe they'll pay attention to their corporate funders who have now been forced by those constituents to at least pretend they give a damn about democracy.
  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with special coverage of President Biden's popular, new, sweeping, long-overdue, "once in a generation", $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal introduced on Wednesday as the American Jobs Plan...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Secret audio reveals 'conservatives' support Dems' For the People Act (H.R.1); Also: Economists giddy about Biden's infrastructure, jobs and climate plan; Third lawsuit filed against GA's new vote suppression law...
By Brad Friedman on 3/30/2021 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: More evidence that the rightwing billionaire Koch network really needs a better security plan. And Republicans really need a more popular agenda. [Audio link to show follows summary below.]

We now have still more audio that has leaked out of a super-secret Koch Network event. The latest is embarrassing yet again for them, as it reveals that even Republican voters want corrupting "dark money" out of politics. Sorry, Koch folks like Mitch McConnell and all of the other elected GOPers who owe their corrupt careers (and votes in Congress) to whatever it is that the Koch Network wants from them! Looks like they'll need to rely on out-and-out lies about what is actually in the Democrats' popular election and campaign finance reform bill known as H.R.1 (the For the People Act) in order to undermine it. But they've become very good at that sort of thing by now.

On Monday, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a story about audio she obtained from a super-secret conference call in which the guy running a Koch-backed effort to figure out how to message against H.R.1 concedes that even "conservative" voters appear to like the proposal, which includes disclosure requirements for donations larger than $10,000 to "dark money" non-profit groups like the dozens of "non-partisan" groups run and funded by billionaire donors to the Koch Network.

As Mayer reports: "The speakers on the call expressed alarm at the broad popularity of the bill's provision calling for more public disclosure about secret political donors. The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress."

The research director for a Koch-run advocacy group is heard explaining on the call, which reportedly included a partisan representative from McConnell's office, that when even "conservative" voters hear that the legislation "stops billionaires from buying elections," they support it. "Unfortunately," he tells the group somewhat sheepishly, "we've found that that is a winning message, for both the general public and also conservatives."

We share the full audio disclosed by Mayer on today's program. (And, since I referenced it it today, here's a link to my 2011 exposé of the Koch Brothers' super-secret billionaire confab at a resort near Vail, CO. The first, to my knowledge, to include audio from one of the group's meetings. The several-part exposé I published at Mother Jones and at The BRAD BLOG at the time included audio I obtained revealing the undisclosed keynote speech by NJ's then Gov. Chris Christie, as well as remarks from Charles Koch and others at the highly secured --- but not highly enough secured --- event.)

Also today, Axios reports that economists are very excited about the approximately $3 trillion infrastructure, jobs and, yes, climate plan that Joe Biden is set to roll out in Pittsburgh on Wednesday. He previewed a bit of that plan during his press conference last week. The plan, in theory, will create millions of new, high paying jobs repairing, improving and building roads, bridges, electrical grids and other infrastructure that has been dilapidating for years, while hardening it all for climate resilience in a dangerously warming world. The Koch Network and Congressional Republicans are likely to have a hard time messaging against that long-overdue proposal as well. But we'll find out as much after Biden introduces the plan tomorrow.

Then, a bit of a follow-up to my conversation with Caren Short, Senior Voting Rights Attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Monday's show, about Georgia's sweeping new voter suppression bill. Yesterday, I had asked Short whether SPLC was planning to join either of the so-far two different lawsuits filed by civil rights groups just after the controversial GOP measure was passed by both houses in the state legislature and signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp last Thursday, all within a 7-hour time span. She told me the group was looking closely at the suits, but had made no decision yet. Today, SPLC touched base with the news announcing a third suit [PDF] now filed in federal court against the GA law. This one has been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and others on behalf of several Black, Latino and Muslim organizations in the Peach State.

Finally today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with more news on Biden's infrastructure plan; deadly storms in Nashville; a disturbing update to the death toll in Texas after last month's winter storm; and more...some of it actually good enough news that we close with a song that many of you likely hoped we'd have forgotten by now. But, sorry not sorry...we didn't!...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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OH AG looks $5.5B federal gift-horse in mouth; AZ GOP sanctioned for 'groundless' lawsuit after well-run 2020 election; Repub attacks on democracy seek to send voters to 'Back of the Line'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2021 7:17pm PT  

It's a bit of a grab bag on today's BradCast, but one that will hopefully keep you well prepared for your next conversation with any of your still brain-poisoned wingnut friends, family and coworkers.[Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

Included in our grab bag of coverage today...

  • Ohio's Republican Attorney General Dave Yost is suing the Biden Administration because the $350 billion that the Democratic COVID relief bill (the American Rescue Plan) allocates to help all 50 states overcome a revenue cash crunch includes a provision that prevents states from using that free federal money to finance state tax cuts.
  • Of course, Ohio could also just refuse to take the $5.5 billion earmarked for them in the federal legislation, which not a single Republican voted for in the U.S. House or Senate, often describing it as a "blue state bailout". But, because we believe in facts around here...As detailed in a new report this week from the financial website WalletHub, Ohio's Republican-majority state government ranks 16th among those most dependent on the federal Government. In fact, the site's latest annual analysis finds that 11 of the top 12 states most dependent on D.C. are all controlled by Republicans, while 12 of the 14 least dependent are run by Democrats. In other words, "blue" state taxpayer dollars continue to be a perpetual "red" state bailout.
  • With the election of Joe Biden and two Democratic U.S. Senators in Arizona (the 7th most dependent on federal dollars), the state is finally trending "blue", even as Republicans still hold control of the state legislature and governor's mansion. But turning "purple" is only leading the state Republican Party to lurch farther and farther to the right under the embarrassing --- and now costly --- leadership of AZ GOP Chair Kelli Ward. This week, a state judge ordered the Party to pay $18,000 in costs and attorneys fees to the state's Democratic Secretary of State after a frivolous lawsuit sought to force another post-2020 election audit in Maricopa County (Phoenix). The "bad faith" and "groundless" GOP suit, as the judge noticed in his sanctions order describing the effort as "gaslighting," failed to recognize that the County had already run a post-election hand-counted ballot audit, finding no fraud or inaccuracies in its Dominion Voting System tabulators.
  • For good measure, in late January, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors commissioned another audit, this one examining voting system equipment and source code, searching for malicious software or hardware on the systems used in November, checking for evidence of inappropriate network or Internet connectivity issues and rechecking the accuracy of the tabulation system itself against millions of actual votes cast last year. In all cases, according to the two separate, independent, federally accredited voting system test labs commissioned to carry out the audit, "No Issues" were discovered across the board.
  • Despite the clean bill of health from those post-election audits and the failed, evidence-free lawsuits to try and overturn Biden's win in the Grand Canyon State, Republican lawmakers in the state legislature continue to move dozens of voter suppression bills forward in hopes of, at the very least, undercutting the state's very popular mail voting system, as used by 80 percent of voters (Republican and Democratic alike) even before the COVID pandemic. One such measure would both add onerous ID requirements to mail-in ballots and require that absentee ballots be postmarked by the Thursday before Election Day!
  • The efforts in Arizona are, of course, being echoed by Republicans in statehouses all across the country of late, with more than 250 voter suppression bills introduced in more than 40 states so far this year. All of which share the hope of making it harder for (certain) voters to cast ballots at all. The GOP has been hard at work at this sort of suppression for some time, though they are doubling and tripling down since the 2020 contest. All of which has echoes for folk singer/song writer MATT SIRCELY, whose new Back of the Line tune harkens back to the voting lines in Ohio in 2004, the lines of protesters marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama in 1965, and the bread lines of the Great Depression. If Matt thought that thanking me for inspiration on this song would lead us to play it on the show...he is correct!
  • Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, as extreme weather slams the North, South and West; as corporate media coverage of climate change fell over a cliff with the COVID pandemic last year; and as a top Texas utility regulator gets fired after being caught on tape helping to rig the system for corporate investors over Lone Star State rate-payers...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/18/2021 11:05am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. extreme weather whiplash: blizzards in the north, extreme tornado outbreaks in the south; Drought deepens in the Western U.S. and Europe; Corporate broadcast media coverage of climate change plummeted in 2020; PLUS: Top Texas utility regulator caught on tape promising to protect investors over consumers... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO HELP US CELEBRATE WITH A DONATION!

Click here to listen 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): Saving the Climate in a Triple Crisis: A moon shot model for the transformation of capitalism; Oil firms knew decades ago fossil fuels posed grave health risks, files reveal; Biden Administration Wants Financial Sector To Face Up To Climate Risk; Bottom trawling releases as much carbon as air travel, landmark study finds; Eight States Are Seeding Clouds to Overcome Megadrought; Seaweed: A planet-saving, anti-burping drug for cows; As endangered birds lose their songs, they can’t find mates ... PLUS: EV Turning Point: Momentum Builds for US Electric Vehicle Transition... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Election integrity advocate, journalist Jennifer Cohn on newly discovered ES&S, EAC failures; Also: Biden endorses filibuster reform...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2021 7:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: While Team Trump spent months pretending the Dominion Voting Systems company stole votes from Trump and flipped them to Biden with their computerized voting and tabulation systems, there is exactly zero independently verifiable evidence to support that baseless conclusion. At the same time, however, recently unearthed documents from the state of Texas and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), reveal a gaping security hole in new systems made by the largest voting system company in the nation, Election Systems and Software, Inc. (better known as ES&S), which has systems deployed in dozens of states. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But, first up today, some annoying (if long overdue) news that Donald Trump finally made it clear(ish), during a Tuesday interview on Fox "News", that he recommends his own supporters should, indeed, get vaccinated against COVID. He cites the "great" and "safe" vaccines that are now available, describing them as "something that works" to prevent the deadly disease. We hope his supporters listen, since they are currently the most disinclined to want to get vaccinated.

Next, some long overdue encouraging news on the Senate legislative filibuster. In a Tuesday interview with ABC News, President Biden --- a longtime Senate institutionalist previously opposed to filibuster reform --- said he now favors it being overhauled. He says he supports a modification to bring back the "talking filibuster", where obstructionists are forced to hold the floor and keep speaking until they can't anymore. That would place the onus on the minority hoping to block legislation, rather than forcing Democrats, in this case, to try and find 60 votes to pass anything at all. Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had no problem unilaterally killing the filibuster entirely to steal and pack Trump nominees onto the U.S. Supreme Court, now vows to grind the Senate to a halt if Dems dare change the legislative filibuster. But, of course, McConnell has already done that with his unprecedented use of the legislative filibuster to block everything! We discuss.

Then, on to our main story today. Shortly after the November election last year, Donald Trump and his gaggle of dopey friends and clueless, corrupt attorneys hatched an evidence-free conspiracy theory that Canadian-based Dominion Voting Systems had participated in an elaborate plot to secretly flip votes and steal the election for Biden. (The theory was based in part on my accurate, deep-dive exclusive investigative reporting from 2010, regarding some voting system vendors --- though not Dominion --- who then had ties to Venezuela and its then living President, Hugo Chavez. Team Trump bastardized that reporting to pretend it had something to do with their dumb theory that Dominion stole the 2020 election from Trump.) Dominion has since sued Team Trumpers Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell for defamation, slapping them with suits for $1.3 billion each. Last week, news out of Stark County, Ohio and out of Louisiana proved that Dominion is, in fact, being financially harmed by the fraudulent "fraud" plot used to try and discredit them.

But the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S --- with a years-long, thuggish reputation according to elections insiders, along with a long history of failed elections on their crappy, computerized voting and tabulation systems --- largely escaped scrutiny by Republicans after last November's election. But they shouldn't have, given the disturbing, well-supported, deep-dive exclusive that election integrity advocate and Twitter phenom JENNIFER COHN broke last week at Who, What, Why. She joins us today to explain both her well-sourced report and its far-reaching ramifications.

As it turns out, she reports, there is a flaw in ES&S' installation process that prevents "hash-verification" when software is installed or patched onto their ExpressVote touchscreen voting systems. What that means, in layman's terms, is that its impossible to know if the software installed onto the systems actually matches the certified version of the software that was tested by federal testing authorities under the purview of the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission.

This gaping hole --- discovered by the state of Texas in advance of last November's election --- means that untested, modified software, perhaps containing malware, could potentially have been installed onto ES&S' systems in more than a dozen states last year. Even more maddening is that ES&S was well aware of this flaw, but told elections officials (if they happened to notice the failed hash test) that it was nothing to worry about, nothing to see here, everything is fine --- just trust us.

"The strong implication from the documents which were produced is that [ES&S was] telling them that a mismatch should just be treated as a match," Cohn tells me. "That blanket instruction really concerned the Texas examiners when they found out this was happening."

More maddening still, as Cohn reports, is that ES&S forces jurisdictions to allow their own employees or contractors to do these installations, rather than allowing jurisdictions to do so themselves, which might allow local or state officials to do their own hash-verification (or "acceptance testing", as it is known by some in the industry). Some jurisdictions that refuse to allow ES&S to do the installation will have their warrantees void by the company. As one former voting system employee tweeted in response to all of this, it is "like buying a new home and before the closing the seller says, 'You don't need a final walk-through. Just trust me."

"Normally, the customer is supposed to do it. The whole point of it is to make sure that the vendor is being honest and they're not giving malicious vote-flipping software. So to have the vendor do the hash testing themselves defeats the whole point," Cohn explains. "One of the examiners called it 'the fox guarding the henhouse', and said it was ES&S self-certifying their systems. Even the attorneys for the Texas Secretary of state were appalled."

Cohn's reporting at Who, What, Why is based on a passel of documents obtained via public records requests that reveal, for example, a troubled Texas election examiner complaining via email to their Secretary of State's attorney that this security flaw is "a gift wrapped opportunity to an insider threat," before going on to add: "It’s similar to a bank robber knowing that the camera covering teller #3 is broken."

In addition to Texas, ES&S systems used last year in Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Washington, DC, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Washington state, Wisconsin and Wyoming may all have been similarly vulnerable to running modified, vulnerable and uncertified software during the election, as Cohn details in her report, explaining today that it could be as many as 35 states.

And, as if all of that is not yet maddening enough, she also reports on the disturbing reaction from the EAC to this gaping security hole. The federal agency which is supposed to oversee voting system certification, apparently knew about this issue prior to the election, but failed to inform the public and quietly helped patch it all over for ES&S before, essentially, lying about it all once Cohn started asking questions in February. The EAC, as we have reported at The BRAD BLOG for years, has a long and troubling history of protecting private voting system vendors rather than the voters they are supposed to be watching out for.

When the EAC learned about it, Cohn says, they were "in kind of a panic, I think, because if it had leaked out, they couldn't honestly say they knew what had been installed in those states was what it was supposed to be."

So, is any of this related to why Team Trump focused their phony, evidence-free complaints almost exclusively on Dominion, while ignoring well-documented problems with ES&S almost entirely? We discuss that and much more with Cohn on today's --- yes --- maddening BradCast, where she also notes that, despite Texas officials being as troubled as they were by all of this, "I don't think that anybody ever said, 'Why don't we use pens? They don't require hash testing.'"...

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Guest: 30-year veteran Leon County, FL elections chief Ion Sancho; Also: Callers ring in on that and Biden's progressive American Rescue Plan...
By Brad Friedman on 3/15/2021 6:43pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The Republican assault on voting rights is not only happening in states where the GOP lost, for the first time in many years, at the Presidential level in 2020, like Georgia. It's also happening in states that Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a smaller margin than in 2016, like Texas. And, yes, it's also happening in the few states where Trump won in 2020 and actually increased his winning margin over 2016, like Florida. But in Florida, state elections officials, including Republicans, are furious about it. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

While GOP state lawmakers are, right now, pushing hundreds of vote suppression bills in more than 40 states, based on Trump's Big Lie that he won the 2020 election (he didn't), a very small handful of Republicans are pushing back. In Georgia, on Sunday, the state's Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan appeared to decry at least some of the GOP efforts to curb voting rights in the Peach State. Last week, he walked out of the state Senate while presiding over a debate over passage of a new GOP bill that would disallow no-excuse absentee voting and implement many other restrictions. Over the weekend on NBC's 'Meet the Press', Duncan argued "Republicans don’t need election reforms to win, we need leadership."

Meanwhile, in Florida, where even Trump didn't forward phony claims about absentee fraud --- where he actually lauded their absentee vote system (in no small part because he voted illegally by absentee there) --- GOPers are, nonetheless, instituting new restrictions that would ban drop-boxes and remove the state's system that allows voters to sign up to be on the mail-in voting list for four years at a time. That, and other new restrictions on voting rights in the Sunshine State, are all included in an omnibus bill introduced by state Sen. Dennis Baxley called SB90. But, at least in Florida, state elections officials --- Democratic and Republican alike --- are pushing back.

Why, after the 2020 election, when even Republicans in the state like Gov. Ron DeSantis declared it to be one of the best and most secure elections in state history are GOPers now moving to restrict the franchise?

We're joined for some answers today by 30-year veteran Leon County (Tallahassee), FL Supervisor of Elections, ION SANCHO. The longtime, legendary champion of voting rights finally retired in 2016, after becoming so well respected by his fellow county elections officials, from all parties, that he was tapped to oversee the contentious and eventually aborted 2000 statewide recount between George W. Bush and Al Gore.

But now, the longtime Election Integrity champion says, he is furious at what Republicans are doing, and says that it's all about DeSantis' 2022 re-election hopes. "What's being overlooked by the national press," Sancho tells us today, "is that this issue, while framed nationally by the disgraced ex-President, is really being pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, who in 2018 won by a scant 30,000 votes out of 8 million cast. He's scared to death because the Democrats right now have an over-half-a-million vote margin for individuals signed up to get that vote-by-mail ballot."

All of that plays into Republican fears of mail-in ballot drop-boxes, even though, as Sancho notes, they are far more secure than the U.S. mail, particularly after Republicans in the state's General Assembly previously adopted rules to ensure secure, manned drop-boxes in every county.

"Of the millions of Democratic voters that voted by mail, 1.5 million of them dropped them off in those vote-by-mail ballot drop-boxes before Trump laid out his plot to try to steal the election by damning vote-by-mail ballots," Sancho explains. "The Republican legislature, whose Republican base had always outvoted the Democrats from 2000 to 2020, required by law that each vote-by-mail ballot establishment have a drop -box."

"Then the bottom dropped out. COVID hit and the Democratic Party in the State of Florida said we don't want to subject our voters to go door to door, so they embarked on a phone program to enroll people in vote-by-mail . That was overwhelmingly successful, and vote-by-mail dramatically increased on the Democratic Party side to the point now that today, if Gov. DeSantis doesn't get rid of that list [of voters signed up for long-term absentee voting], he's facing a half a million vote margin to begin with. That's what's driving this particular bill this year." The new bill would wipe out the existing list and mandate that all voters re-sign up for it now, and then every two years thereafter.

"This is deja vu all over again," rails Sancho who charges "this slander" that "has caused people to doubt the veracity of elections" has made him "very angry." He draws a bead on Republican state Senator Baxley, the sponsor of SB90, charging this is not his "first drive-by shooting on carrying the Republican voter suppression. In 2010 he was author of [a bill] which dramatically curtailed early voting, because Obama carried early voting here in Florida [in 2008] by such a large margin that an actual majority of all African-Americans in this state voted at an early voting location. This is a tried-and-true playbook with the same characters involved."

As usual, there is much more in our conversation, including Sancho's take on the evidence-free, post-2020 GOP attacks on the Dominion Voting Systems company. Sancho has been a longtime thorn in the side of private elections vendors and their computerized voting and tabulation systems. He played a starring role in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, when he oversaw what became the first known hack of a Diebold optical-scan tabulator, as depicted live, as it happened, in the film's climactic finale.

"It's been rigged here," he tells me flatly. "Again, I've been watching these 'How can we curtail this? How can we do that?', and it's been going on since 2000."

Finally, we open the phones up for a few minutes for listener feedback on all of the above (including one fun Trump-supporting caller who is hopping mad about the conversation with Sancho!), and on my contention last week that Joe Biden and the Democrats' massive, progressive $1.9 trillion COVID relief and stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan, could finally signal the long-overdue end of the four-decade old Ronald Reagan Era in this country...

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Guest: Chuck Collins of Institute for Policy Studies' Inequality.org; Also: 2021 flu season proves masks work; Swalwell latest to sue Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2021 7:00pm PT  

Prepare to be outraged by some gobsmacking and maddening numbers from today's guest on The BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below summary.]

But first, speaking of startling numbers, statistics from this year's flu season prove that masks and social distancing do indeed help to prevent viral transmission and death. That, of course, is bad news for residents of Texas and Mississippi, where their idiot Governors this week lifted statewide mask mandates and all restrictions on businesses, even as COVID infection rates are on the rise in both states. Both are among the top 10 worst states in the nation in that regard in recent weeks. Mississippi leads the nation, with Texas not far behind. And that was before they ended statewide mandates this week in contradiction of strong advice from health experts.

In Washington, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA), one of the House Impeachment Managers during Donald Trump's second Impeachment Trial, filed suit against the disgraced former President, his son Don Jr., Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) for their roles in inciting the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection. Swalwell's civil complaint follows on a similar one filed last month by Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson and the NAACP.

At the same time today, the U.S. Senate continued debate over the American Rescue Plan, President Biden's $1. 9 trillion emergency COVID relief and stimulus package after Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin forced an all-night reading of the 628-page measure that was passed by the House late last week. In addition to funds to speed distribution of vaccines, the bill includes $1,400 payments to Americans making less than $75,000, an extension of federal unemployment benefits, hundreds of millions to reopen schools safely, and to supplement lost revenue to hard-hit, cash-strapped states and cities.

As tens of millions of Americans have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and are both struggling to keep a roof over their heads and put food on the table, the relief can't come soon enough, despite zero votes of support from Republicans in either the House or Senate, so far, for the otherwise wildly popular bill. Johnson described it as a "boondoggle" full of unnecessary spending that would blow out the national deficit, even as it will cost the same amount of money that he and all the other Republicans voted in favor of when they passed Donald Trump's 2017 tax cuts for mostly wealthy Americans and corporations.

But while Senators --- even on the Democratic side --- squabble over whether unemployment payments should be $400 a week and last through August, or $300 a week and last until September, America's 664 billionaires could cover almost the entire cost of the measure from only the money they've made during the last 11 months of the pandemic.

We spoke last Summer with CHUCK COLLINS, Director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org, about his "Billionaire Bonanza 2020" report. Today, he joins us again with a maddening update to that report, finding that, as more than half a million Americans died, 73 million lost work, nearly 100,000 business permanently closed, 29 million adults reported their household did not have enough food over the past week and 11 million children didn't eat enough because their household couldn't afford to fully feed them, the 664 billionaires in the U.S. actually gained $1.3 trillion in added wealth since the beginning of the pandemic!

The profits of that handful of mostly white, male billionaires could cover more than two-thirds of the entire $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan and, "At $4.2 trillion," Collins' updated report reveals, "the total wealth of America's 664 billionaires is also more than two-thirds higher than the $2.4 trillion in total wealth held by the bottom half of the population, 165 million Americans."

Those are just some of the startling numbers from his latest report, highlighting the obscene inequality in the U.S., made even worse by the nearly year-long coronavirus pandemic. Shamefully, all of the numbers are still worse for women and people of color. "The inequalities of income and wealth and the racial wealth divide were the pre-existing conditions as we went into the pandemic," he explains. Collins tell me that "the number of people who have no financial reserves --- zero, or negative financial wealth" is "14% of white households...but double that, 28% of Black households, 26% of Latino households...[and] that was before the pandemic."

"That's why 660 billionaires can have almost twice as much as the bottom half of US households --- because the bottom half doesn't have much!," he reports. So, what to do about it? Will the American Rescue Plan help? How about Sen. Elizabeth Warren's recently refiled "Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act" that would tax two cents of every dollar of wealth above $50 million, generating at least $3 trillion in revenue over ten years in the bargain.

Warren cites Collins' new study in making the case for her new wealth tax proposal. Her proposal is wildly popular among voters of all political stripes, as she pitched a similar version during her Presidential run last year. The fact that it isn't already the law, Collins argues, "is simply a reflection of the power of wealthy interests to block change in our political system. It's not that they're changing the political system --- they're able to stop and thwart and block change. And that's unfortunately what we're up against."

"That's the debate we're watching right now in the Senate," he adds, "where half the members in the Senate, they don't have a program to help America get through these hard times. They just want to block the one that would actually make a difference. Unfortunately, the Republicans have been the 'Party of No' because they don't want government to succeed in making a difference in people's lives, because that would undermine their whole program."

Yes, we've got a lot to discuss today with Collins, whose newest book out this month, The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Spend Millions to Hide Trillions, details "the shadowy Wealth Defense Industry," which he explains today as well. Sen. Bernie Sanders writes that "Chuck's book reveals a blueprint for reversing this obscene inequality so we can take back our democracy and ensure that our government works for everybody --- not just the billionaire class and wealthy campaign contributors"...

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House passes H.R.1., so now what?; MI audits find 2020 results accurate, so now what?; AZ Senate finally gets ahold of Maricopa County's 2020 ballots, so now what?; GOP Congressman admits to three counts of felony voter fraud...so guess what?!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/4/2021 6:31pm PT  

We've got mostly democracy-related stories to report on today's BradCast. Some good news, and some bad. But there's a whole bunch of anti-democracy GOP fraud throughout, because what democracy story in the U.S. these days doesn't include Republican fraud and/or attempted voter suppression? [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

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

  • We start with one story that has little to do with democracy, though it should be enough to ensure these two idiot Governors are never elected to anything ever again. In case you are unclear just how idiotic the Governors of Texas and Mississippi are, after they lifted all COVID restrictions in each state this week in hopes that folks won't notice how horrifically they failed their own constituents following the winter storm there three weeks ago, Axios reports today that, while COVID infections rates are still falling in most states, the rate in Texas is up 27 percent over the past week and Mississippi's is up a nation-leading 62 percent! Luckily, both states are islands, so the idiocy of their Republican Governors won't effect everyone else's efforts to get beyond this pandemic once and for all, right?
  • House Democrats, as expected, passed H.R.1 --- the "For the People Act" --- on Wednesday night with zero Republican votes. The massive, landmark, once-in-a-generation voting rights, campaign finance reform and ethics reform bill now moves to the Senate. In that undemocratic body, however, where a simple majority is NOT enough to pass a democracy reform bill as of now, it will likely die, unless enough pressure is applied on Democratic Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona to do the right thing, reform the filibuster, and allow this critical (if imperfect) measure to pass while Democrats have a brief opportunity right now to do so. The measure is long overdue and, according to new polling, wildly popular with the American people of all parties. 68% of likely voters favor the bill, and even a majority of Republicans (57%), back it as well.
  • The sad (and dangerous) Trump/GOP effort to con Americans into believing last November's election was stolen from the disgraced former President --- despite all evidence to the contrary --- continues.  And the massive evidence to the contrary continues to mount. This week, Michigan's Secretary of State announced that the results of a second statewide post-election audit once again confirms the initially reported results. "All of Michigan’s more than 250 election audits are now complete, and each and every one of them affirmed the integrity of the November election and the accuracy of the results," Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson said on Thursday. The audits were carried out by "More than 1,300 Republican, Democratic, and non-partisan election clerks...working across the aisle to review one another's procedures, ballots and machines in coordination with the state Bureau of Elections." Full hand-counts were carried out in some places, such as Antrim County, where Republicans pretended that Dominion Voting Systems machines were used to try and steal the election from Trump.  And, in heavily populated cities like Detroit, election officials determined that, of 174,000 absentee ballots tallied in the city, only 17 votes were ultimately "out of balance" (where the number of ballots cast in a precinct differed from the number of envelopes or signatures accounted for.)
  • But the most embarrassing state GOP idiocy of the week may belong to the Republican-controlled state Senate in Arizona. After months of subpoenas to elections officials, ordering them to turn over all 2.1 million ballots cast in Maricopa County (Phoenix) last year --- and even coming within one vote of throwing elections officials there in jail for following state law by securely retaining custody of the ballots cast in the County last November --- a state judge finally ordered Maricopa officials to obey the subpoena to deliver all ballots to the Senate, so they could count them themselves. They were all delivered, 73 pallets of them, this week. And guess what? Senate Republicans have no idea what to do with them now.  The story is even worse than it sounds, as we discuss today.
  • But at least officials in Kansas were finally able to find some voter fraud. Specifically, voter fraud by now-former Republican U.S. House Rep. Steve Watkins of Topeka. The one-term Congressman was defeated last year. But not before he lied about his residence, using the address of a UPS store on his voter registration, voted in an election he was not entitled to vote in, and then lied to state investigators about it all.  He was charged with three felonies related to voting. This week, however --- because, luckily, he is a white, male Republican from Kansas --- prosecutors are allowing him to enter a diversion agreement that delays his trial for six months, and drops the charges entirely if he's a good boy through September. We compare his treatment to that of Crystal Mason, an African-American mother of three in Texas, who, unlike the Kansas Congressman, had no idea she was violating the law when she cast a provisional ballot that was never counted in the 2016 election. She received a sentence of five years in prison for her "crime".
  • Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, as climate change has resulted in the weakest Gulf Stream in about 1,000 years; carbon emissions are rising again as COVID restrictions are loosened; Joe Biden raises U.S. targets under the Paris Climate Agreement; and another major carmaker announces plans to stop selling all gas burning, internal combustion engine vehicles in their line in very very short order...

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Guest: Dr. Michael E. Mann of Penn State's Earth System Science Center; Also: Rightwing extremist threat on Capitol; Congressional subpoena renewed for Trump financial docs; Biden chides TX, MS Governors...
By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2021 6:58pm PT  

Unlike Microsoft Windows, says our guest on today's BradCast in response to Bill Gates' new book on climate change, "if the global climate system crashes, you can't reboot it." Of course, what does a billionaire software engineer know about how to save our climate anyway? Well, our guest --- an actual Nobel Prize-winning climate scientist --- has a few thoughts on that as well. [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

First up, however, a few quick, breaking news items as usual...

  • The U.S. House has decided to adjourn for the week a day early after Capitol security officials warned of what they described as credible threats by rightwing extremists surrounding what QAnon dupes cite as the "true Inauguration Day" on March 4th (the day originally set by the Constitution). While the House may be scramming, the Senate will supposedly stay in session, as Capitol Police have "enhanced their security posture" and National Guard troops remain posted at the Capitol.
  • Before leaving, however, it appears that the House Oversight Committee has renewed its subpoena for tax and other financial records from Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA. The disgraced former President had successfully stalled the Committee's original effort, beginning in 2019, blocking the documents from being given to the panel for 22 months until the subpoena expired at the end of the legislative session last year. Committee Chair Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), however, is not giving up in her effort to obtain the documents. In a court filing, she described the subpoena and need for Trump's financial records as "just as compelling now as it was when the Committee first issued its subpoena" as "the committee's investigations into presidential conflicts of interest, presidential contracts with the federal government and self-dealing, and presidential emoluments” continue.
  • And President Biden offered some thoughts on what he described as a "big mistake" and "neanderthal thinking" by the Republicans Governors of Texas and Mississippi. On Tuesday, they both lifted statewide mask mandates and declared all businesses may now open to 100% capacity. That clever if wildly dangerous distraction comes while tens of thousands of residents in both states are still without running or clean water following a winter storm more than two weeks ago, and as both states rank in the top ten for COVID deaths per capita.

Then, with Trump out of the White House and Dems in control of both chambers of Congress, it seems a very good time to renew the previously forestalled federal efforts to take action on our critical climate crisis. Private industry has figured out the urgent need. This week, Volvo announced they would move to an all-electric car line by 2030 and, in just four years, by 2025, would produce only electric or hybrids. And the American people seems to have figured it out as well. By a whopping 79% to 20%, they now favor the development of renewable energy over the continued production of fossil fuels.

So, it's time to finally restart the debate about how best to move forward again to save our climate by decarbonizing our economy. We're joined today by award-winning climate scientist DR. MICHAEL E. MANN, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, author of nearly 200 peer-reviewed papers and loads of books, including his latest, The New Climate War: The Fight to Take Back Our Planet.

Last week, Mann penned an op-ed for Newsweek, detailing two very different potential paths forward. One, he describes as a "technocratic" path which "envisions climate action as a mere engineering problem" to be solved with massive --- if dangerous --- geoengineering schemes, as detailed in software mogul Bill Gates' new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need. The other, which Mann favors, is the "sociopolitical" path relying on safe, clean, already-existing technologies.

"It can be a bit frustrating," he tells us. "To the extent that Bill Gates might use his platform to create more public awareness for the climate crisis, that's great. The thing that troubles me is that his prescription is wrong-headed, in my view. It's overly technocratic. It's like if your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  If you built your reputation, if your role in society has been to promote computer technology, technological or technocratic solutions to problems, everything looks like a technocratic problem."

"The problem is climate change isn't a technocratic problem," Mann argues. "We have the solutions --- wind, solar, geothermal. [Gates] downplays those solutions, based on what I would say is an unbalanced assessment of the literature and what researchers have found. He downplays the potential for renewable energy to meet our needs and help us decarbonize our economy. By downplaying the obvious solution, it leads him to promote far riskier strategies --- like geoengineering, massively interfering with the Earth's system in some other way to try to offset global warming. What could possibly go wrong?"

"This problem at this point is a political problem, it's not a technological problem. We have the solution. The problem is that we don't yet have the representation in our government," asserts Mann, noting that Gates "actually said, 'Well, I don't know what the solution is to the politics here.' If you don't know the solution to the politics, then you don't know the solution to the problem, because that's what it is at this point. It's a political problem."

Our conversation is enlightening, encouraging, and, yes, maddening at times. We discuss, for example, one of Gates' "solutions" to the climate crisis: more nuclear energy. But even a number of esteemed climate scientists argue that we can't decarbonize without relying on nukes. Mann disagrees and explains why.

He cites peer-reviewed literature from energy experts who "all come to the conclusion that we can meet 80% of projected energy demand by 2035 from renewables, and 100% by 2050...based on existing technology," adding, "That's without nuclear."

As usual, there is much more in our in-depth conversation with Mann than I can cover here, but that is well worth tuning in for. Mann himself, in his Newsweek piece, notes that both he and Gates are optimistic about the future, and that he hopes to find places where their two different paths toward the same ultimate goal may converge. "Whether we have a crisis is no longer a matter of worthy debate. Precisely how we solve it is."

And, yes, we welcome a response from Gates. Happy to have him on the show, with or without Mann there to debate him as he sees fit. Though we do hope that our good-spirited snark today about Windows crashing won't keep Microsoft's former CEO from dropping by...

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Guest: Julian Brave NoiseCat of Data for Progress and the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen; Also: Biden announces enough vaccine for all U.S. adults by May; Abbott lifts ALL masking, business restrictions in TX...
By Brad Friedman on 3/2/2021 6:42pm PT  

As Washington State's Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell suggested last week, the phony GOP uproar over Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM)'s nomination by Joe Biden to become the first Native American Secretary of the U.S. Interior Department is a 'proxy fight' over something else entirely. It might be over the dim future for fossil fuels. It might be over the fact that Haaland would be the first indigenous cabinet member for any Presidential Administration in U.S. history. Or it might be the fact that the GOP, without any real governing philosophy or values, is simply flailing to find relevance. We discuss all of the above with our guest on today's BradCast.  [Audio link to full show is posted below summary.]

But first up today, some late breaking news following on our conversation on yesterday's show with Dr. Karl Krupp of the University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. He argued that, while COVID numbers have (thankfully) fallen precipitously in recent weeks from our horrifically deadly surge in the Fall, we may now be on the verge of "screwing it up all over again." Both he and top federal officials at the CDC see the previously-declining numbers beginning to plateau and/or tick back up in recent days, as states and cities are, once again, prematurely lifting restrictions.

Late news today both supports his worry on one hand, and somewhat mitigates it, a little bit anyway, on the other.  This afternoon President Biden announced that he has helped to broker a deal between Johnson & Johnson and Merck, the two pharmaceutical giants, to speed manufacture of J&J's newly-approved one-dose vaccine. Aided by his implementation of the Defense Production Act, he declared on Tuesday, the two companies, along with Pfizer and Moderna, will create enough vaccine for every American adult by the end of May. That is two months earlier than the Administration previously projected.

While that is certainly encouraging news, it is somewhat blunted by the idiot Governor of Texas, Greg Abbott's announcement today that, in direct contravention of warnings from scientists and federal health officials, the Lone Star State is immediately ending its statewide ask mandate and allowing all businesses to reopen to 100% capacity again. That, even as TX is still seeing about 7,600 new cases each day and averaged 227 COVID-19 deaths a day over the past week.

As Dr. Krupp warned on this program yesterday, we could see new record highs in the near future if we begin "screwing it up all over again". Both he and I, hoped his fears would be wrong. We'll find out soon enough.

In the meantime, Republicans continue to slow-walk top appointments to the Biden Administration, including his new head of Health and Human Services, despite the historic (and once again worsening) pandemic we are still battling.  Clearly, Republicans don't care. But what they do care about is fossil fuel production by the companies which fund their campaigns. To that end, last week's confirmation hearings for Rep. Haaland in the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resource Committee were both revealing and maddening, especially for those in the Native American community.

Members of Indian Country have been watching her grilling in dismay and occasional fury as the first Native American nominated to head up any Cabinet level federal agency was falsely derided during her confirmation hearings last week as a "radical," largely by white, male GOP Senators who are, themselves, radically out of touch with even their own constituents' desire for more renewable energy and less fossil fuel development. Louisiana's Sen. John Kennedy went so far as to deride Haaland as a "neo-socialist, left-of-Lenin whack job" (before attacking Biden's now-abandoned nominee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Neera Tanden, for posting mean tweets some years ago.)

But are the almost-certainly futile attacks on the New Mexico Congresswoman about more than her not-radical-in-the-slightest position on fossil fuels? We're joined today by journalist, activist, and artist JULIAN BRAVE NOISECATVice President of Policy & Strategy at Data for Progress, as well as a member of the Canim Lake Band Tsq'escen and descendant of the Lil'Wat Nation of Mount Currie. We discuss what lies behind the pathetic pushback against Haaland's nomination and why it is such a monumental moment for so many Native Americans around the nation.

NoiseCat has recently written about the pointless and embarrassing attacks on Haaland in her confirmation hearings at both The Nation and Washington Post, where he charged that  "Republicans’ depiction of the first Native American ever nominated to the Cabinet as a 'radical' threat to a Western 'way of life' revealed something about the conservative id: a deep-seated fear that when the dispossessed finally attain a small measure of power, we will turn around and do to them what their governments and ancestors did to us."

We discuss all of that and more today with NoiseCat, who explains the horrendous historic role that Interior has held in the genocidal treatment of American Indians, and the important mission that it now carries out for all Americans, but especially those in the West. (It is also home to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) "Never before in the history of Interior have we had a Native person on the other side of the desk," he tells me. "And I think Native tribes are very hopeful we can make some further headway in correcting the nation-to-nation relationship between the United States and its first peoples."

He also explains, by the way, why "Republicans might actually be burning their own wagon" in attacking Haaland.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as hundreds of thousands in Abbott's "free" Texas are still fighting to obtain water, two weeks after a winter storm knocked out power and water in the Lone Star State; the battle for water for thousands in Jackson, Mississippi after the same storm; and the natural gas industry's desperate attempt to keep their aging empire from collapse...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 3/2/2021 11:12am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Water crisis persists in Texas and Jackson, Mississippi, two weeks after extreme winter storm; Latinos disproportionately exposed to worst water in US, new study finds; US House passes Biden's COVID relief bill boosting heating assistance for low-income families; PLUS: As cities move to electrify buildings, the natural gas industry is striking back... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

GNR's now celebrating 12 YEARS of independent green news, politics, analysis, snarky comment and connecting climate change dots over your public airwaves!
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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Austin, Texas had a bold new climate plan – until a gas company got involved; Biden administration pauses transfer of holy Native American land to mining firm... PLUS: More States Follow California's Lead On Vehicle Emissions Standards... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Dr. Karl Krupp of U. of AZ's Zuckerman College of Public Health; Also: Former French Prez convicted, sentenced; Water out for two weeks in Jackson, MS; Biden's $1.9T COVID relief package heads to Senate...
By Brad Friedman on 3/1/2021 6:39pm PT  

Plummeting COVID rates and FDA approval of a brand new, one-shot vaccine seem like very good news! And it is...if it weren't for our propensity to screw it all up again, as our guest on today's BradCast explains. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But first, in other good/bad news reports today, the former conservative President was found guilty of corruption and sentenced to a year in prison on Monday! The bad news is that it wasn't our former "conservative" President, but French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Still, it does suggest that modern, civilized democracies can hold even the most powerful to account. We'll see if the U.S. justice system learns anything from that example.

In the meantime, we clearly have yet to learn the lesson about the need to modernize our critical infrastructure --- or of the dangers of deregulating, privatizing, and profiteering from essential services such as power and water. The shameful, widespread outages in Texas from a winter storm two weeks ago offered a fresh reminder about that, even as hundreds of thousands in Houston remain under boil water orders today.  But, much less noticed and reported on than the mess in Texas is the fact that tens of thousands are still without clean water --- or even any water at all --- in much of Jackson, Mississippi, where decades of failure to invest in the city's antiquated water system has now left much of it without water at all for the past two weeks. As it turns out, however, the areas of Jackson without water just happen to be the predominately black areas of the state's 80% African-American capital city.

Long overdue improvements to critical infrastructure could finally begin in some states and cities with the passage of President Biden's wildly popular American Rescue Plan. The U.S. House passed the $1.9 trillion package --- which includes $1,400 individual checks and hundreds of billions in relief to families, businesses, schools, unemployed workers, as well as cash-strapped cities and states --- late last Friday night. The House version also a includes the very popular $15/hour minimum wage mandate, even though the Senate Parliamentarian declared last week that the provision could not be included for passage under Senate Budget Reconciliation rules. Those rules would allow the package to be adopted by a simple majority vote in the Senate this week, rather than the 60 votes currently needed for passage under the Senate's archaic, undemocratic, Jim Crow-era filibuster rules.

Despite the popularity of the package (76% approval over all, including 60% of Republican voters), there were zero votes for passage by GOPers in the gerrymandered House. Republicans in the Senate are believed likely to similarly ignore the preferences of a majority of their own voters. That, even though the measure enjoys bi-partisan approval by voters and the package also includes tens of billions of dollars to speed distribution of COVID vaccines.

Speaking of which, a third vaccine received FDA approval over the weekend, and millions of doses are now said to be on on their way to distribution points.  The first single-dose vaccine to be granted FDA emergency use authorization for COVID-19 is Johnson & Johnson's. It is said to be highly effective and requires only regular refrigeration for storage, as opposed to sub-freezers. So, in theory, it is much easier to get out and into people's arms quickly. But is it as effective as Pfizer and Moderna's vaccine? And does it matter one way or another? We discuss that with our guest today as well.

As COVID infection, hospitalization and death rates have been plummeting in recent weeks, epidemiologists have become worried. There are signs that the precipitous drop after the horrendously deadly autumn surge last year has begun to plateau at similarly high rates to those we saw just before that surge. But now, there are much more transmissible variants emerging. At the same time, states and cities are beginning to lift restrictions again --- just as they did before last year's surge that quickly propelled deaths to more than 500,000 in the U.S.

We're joined today for some very helpful insight on both the vaccines and concerns about the current rate of spread, by DR. KARL KRUPP of University of Arizona's Zuckerman College of Public Health. In short, Krupp warns, "we're screwing it up all over again."

"To be quite blunt about it" Krupp tells me, citing those who ignored warnings from public health authorities about reopening schools and businesses before Thanksgiving last year, "It's funny how short of a memory we have. We're just approaching where we were in the middle of October.  We're just coming back from where we went the first time we did everything wrong. And the question is, are we going to do everything wrong this time?"

His answer is not necessarily encouraging, as he predicts that we could very well see not only a fourth surge, but one that is even higher than what devastated the nation late last year.

As to the vaccines, we talk about the fact that Johnson & Johnson's, while only requiring a single dose, is said to be only 66% effective against the virus, as compared to the 94 and 95% rates of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. Though the newest vaccine to obtain FDA approval also is said to be 85% effective against severe cases and, to date, 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and death.

But, if given a choice, wouldn't it be smarter to take the Pfizer or Moderna versions? Krupp is sympathetic to those concerns, but argues that Americans should take any vaccine they can get as quickly as possible right now. He explains why. He also answers a bunch of questions about whether those who have been vaccinated can still become infected or infect others and discusses concerns that minority communities are currently being vaccinated at far lower rates.

He also offers his predictions as to when life might actually return to normal, and when it will return to mostly normal --- or at least something that feels much more like the Before Times. Please tune in for today's very insightful --- and hopefully helpful! --- conversation...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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A Green New Deal didn't cause the Lone Star State's deadly power crisis, but it could help prevent the next one...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/26/2021 10:35am PT  

Contrary to GOP gaslighting, the source of the Lone Star State's disastrous power outage cannot be found in the yet-to-be adopted Green New Deal or in a failure of wind turbines, which account for only a small percentage of the energy supply in Texas. As Naomi Klein observed, when she recently appeared on Democracy Now, "Texas is about as far from a Green New Deal as you can possibly get."

The true source of the Texas energy failure, per Klein, lies in the Enron-like deregulation of the Texas energy grid.

As has occurred in other privatized and profit-driven sectors of the economy, like healthcare, where profit-driven "efficiencies" resulted in an insufficient hospital bed capacity in the midst of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, Texas failed to deploy "built-in redundancies," she explained. While uniquely refusing to be a part of either of the two national energy grids, the state's 1999 deregulation scheme also failed to account for the impact of extreme weather on its own, isolated statewide power grid.

The failure of some wind turbines in TX, for example, was entirely avoidable. Wind turbines, according to a Canadian government study, can include "cold weather packages" that allow them to function in temperatures as low as -30C (-22F). In fact, the U.S. Research Station at McMurdo Sound in Antarctica operates on wind turbines that produce enough electricity to power 100 American homes.

Thermal energy production by natural gas, coal and nuclear, accounts for about 80% of energy production in the state. Those systems, which were also not winterized, brought the most disruption to the state's energy supply.

But the problem isn't limited to the profit-driven evasion of "built-in redundancies". Those Texans who didn't lose power became victims of what Tyson Slocum of Public Citizen's Energy Program described as "predatory utility pricing" in which the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) suddenly spiked from $20/MWh to $9,000/MWh. Roland Burns, CFO of Comstock Resources, Inc., a natural gas supply company owned by Dallas Cowboys' billionaire owner Jerry Jones, boasted that the Texas power disaster was "like hitting the jackpot."

Sound familiar? It should...

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Guest: National Security blogger Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel; Also: SCOTUS rejects GOP challenge to PA's 2020 election results; GA Repubs move new vote suppression measures forward...
By Brad Friedman on 2/23/2021 6:45pm PT  

By a number of happily surprising measures, the confirmation of Joe Biden's Attorney General nominee is going very well. Perhaps even better than expected, according to our guest on today's BradCast.  And, best yet, it may even result in some serious consequences for our former President. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

But, first up today...The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday finally dismissed a bunch of silly and/or meritless MAGA challenges to the 2020 Presidential elections results in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Georgia and Arizona. But the case out of Pennsylvania, in which dissents [PDF] to its dismissal were offered by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sam Alito and Neil Gorsuch, warrants notice. The case argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in ordering [PDF] a three-day extension for the arrival of mail-in ballots, prior to the November 2020 election, violated the U.S. Constitution. The PA Supremes found that, given the pandemic and slow-downs in mail delivery by the U.S. Postal Service, the state's deadline for ballots to arrive by the close of polls at 8pm on Election Night violated their own state constitution's mandate for fair elections. The Republican challenge to their ruling charged that the state high court was in violation of a radical interpretation of the U.S. Constitution's Elections Clause allowing "The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections" for federal office "shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof".

That, their argument goes, means that only state legislatures may set any provision whatsoever pertaining to elections. Any such procedure set by a Secretary of State or Governor or even a state Supreme Court is therefore unconstitutional on the federal level. Or so the GOP is now claiming. It is, for several reasons, a ridiculous argument. But it is one that has been given new life in the Trump Era as desperate Republicans took their cue from the former President to come up with any reason whatsoever to nullify election results they didn't like.  There are now at least three, arguably four, Justices on our stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court who appear to buy into the radical argument. Nonetheless, the case was dismissed on Monday on the grounds that the matter was moot. (There were about 10,000 late arriving ballots in PA last November, and Biden won the state by about 80,000 votes.) But, without an election hanging in the balance, the dissenters noted that this case would have been an ideal moment to settle this matter. Oddly enough, I actually agree on that last point with Thomas, Alito and Gorsuch, and we discuss why on today's show.

That, as GOP-controlled legislatures around the country continue to move forward with new voter suppression schemes following their loss on the Presidential level in 2020. Today for example, Georgia's Republican-majority Senate approved a measure that would require a copy of a Photo ID to even request a mail-in ballot. And that's just the start of what the state's wingnut legislature is now up to, after having recently lost the Presidential race and two U.S. Senate seats in the Peach State.

All of which underscores again the critical need for Congress to pass HR-1, the "For the People Act," which would go a long way toward blocking the new GOP attacks on the right to vote. To do that, of course, Democrats in the Senate will need to end the filibuster. And to do that, Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema will have to come to understand how they are allowing these overt attacks on democracy itself to worsen at the state level, as they protect the undemocratic Jim Crow-era filibuster.

Then, we're joined by longtime national security and accountability blogger MARCY WHEELER of Emptywheel, who has now moved to Ireland for reasons that she explains on today's program. The real reason we wanted to catch up with her, however, is to discuss the ongoing confirmation process for Biden's AG-designate Merrick Garland --- who completed his GOP-stalled second day of testimony in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and to discuss Monday's unanimous ruling by SCOTUS that Trump's financial documents must now be handed over to the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., for his criminal probe into alleged tax, bank and insurance fraud by Trump and his organization, as well as the unlawful conspiracy he directed involving hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

Is Trump soon to face very real accountability that could actually include jail time? Whether it's in the New York state case, another criminal investigation into his election interference in Georgia, or even under AG Garland's promised federal response to the conspiracy to take over the U.S. Capitol on January 6th?

Wheeler has lots of thoughts on all of the above on today's BradCast --- and you probably won't be angry about (most of) them. I'll share just one of them for now here, regarding those charged for conspiracy for the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol: "All of these defendants, one after another, saying 'I was just swept up by the inflammatory language of the then-President. That may be true, but it doesn't get them off for the crime. But if one after another are saying 'Trump made me do it,' then at some point you've got to respond to that."

Now may be a good time to brush up on the legal meaning of the phrase "seditious conspiracy."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, on the continuing fall out from the Texas power and water failure over the past week, the fossil fuel-funded GOPers who lied about it, and the not-a-moment-too-soon official U.S. return to the Paris Climate Agreement...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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