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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, August 2, 2021
4th Surge and Callers on Why They Finally Got Vax'd (Or Still Haven't): 'BradCast' 8/2/21
Also: Biden's landmark infrastructure agenda takes another step forward in the Senate...
CANNING: The Legal Case for Compulsory Vaccinations
...and for patent waivers for life-saving innoculation drugs...
Sunday 'No Vaccine for Stupid' Toons
For whatever ails you, it's Pdiddie's latest collection of the week's best toons...
'American Fascism' Rising (But Not YET Unavoidable!): 'BradCast' 7/30/21
Guest: Author Brynn Tannehill; Also: Trump pushed DoJ to falsely claim 2020 election was 'corrupt'; Biden DoJ confirms IRS must give Trump tax docs to Congress...
Long Struggle for TX Voting Rights Laid Bare in U.S. House Hearing: 'BradCast' 7/29/21
Also: AZ GOP state Senate liaison UNresigns as 'botched' 2020 'audit' falls apart; Biden unveils new vax incentives as Delta surges...
'Green News Report' 7/29/21
  w/ Brad & Desi
Infrastructure bill inches forward in Senate; FL slammed by massive, toxic red tide; Extreme heat curbing nuclear plant reliability; PLUS: OR enacts historic clean energy legislation...
Previous GNRs: 7/27/21 - 7/22/21 - Archives...
GOP's AZ Election 'Audit' Coming Apart at the Seams: 'BradCast' 7/28/21
Guest: John 'Bamboo' Brakey of AUDIT-USA; Also: Bipartisan Senators reach agreement on $1T infrastructure deal; Biden to require vax or tests for federal work force...
'A Cancer on Our Constitutional Republic': 'BradCast' 7/27/21
Harrowing testimony at first hearing of 1/6 Committee hearing; Also: More unvaccinated regrets, new CDC mask guidance as Delta variant rises...
'Green News Report' 7/27/21
London drowning; Middle East burning; Lake Powell's lowest level ever; PLUS: Study warns extreme heat will be much more frequent, costly...
L.A.s New 'Vote Centers' Make Recounts All But Impossible: 'BradCast' 7/26/21
Guest: Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: COVID deniers learn they were wrong...the hard way...
Sunday 'Gold Medal' Toons
PDiddie's latest, award-wanting collection of the week's best toons!...
Break Them Up! AntiTrust To the Rescue: 'BradCast' 7/23/21
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with author/journalist Cory Doctorow...
'Green News Report' 7/22/21
Catastrophic flooding in China; Health alerts from Western wildfires triggered as far as the East Coast; PLUS: Utility giant PG&E finally pledges to bury its power lines...
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: L.A. Times' Michael Hiltzik; Also: New U.S. sanctions on Russia reveal previously unknown details on 2016 election interference...
By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2021 7:27pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's nice to see hundreds of companies and corporate executives coming out in favor of democracy and voting rights. If only they actually meant it. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, however, the Biden Administration announced a spate of new sanctions against Russian organizations and individuals in response to both the massive Solar Winds hack of top U.S. agencies, including including the Treasury, Justice, Energy and Homeland Security departments, as well as for what is described as interference in the 2020 election on behalf of Donald Trump.  At the same time, the Administration seems to be going out of their way to downplay the sweeping sanctions by suggesting that they are open to top level discussions to avoid further exacerbating growing tensions between the two nations.

But one of the 32 individuals sanctioned is of note today because the announcement from the U.S. Treasury Department refers to the 2016 election, charging that the individual, Konstanin Kilimnik shared proprietary polling information given to him by Trump's first campaign manager, Paul Manafort, directly with Russian Intelligence Services.  If true, that would be significant new information. Previous reports on Russia's involvement in the 2016 election from both Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee cite the information Manafort is said to have given to his former business associate Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political operative linked to Russian intelligence. But neither of those voluminous report goes so far as to say that the data was subsequently given directly to Russian intelligence services.  Those reports acknowledge they were not able to learn what came of it after it was handed over to Kilimnik. Today's announcement of the sanctions by the Treasury, however, notes: "During the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy."

As national security website Just Security observes: "The Treasury Department’s new statement raises questions about why this information is coming out now and why the Special Counsel’s office did not have access to it during its investigation. Was it not available then or did it exist but was not provided to the Mueller team?"   So, does this mean the Biden Administration has uncovered details on manipulation of the 2016 election that was previously hidden or withheld by the Trump Administration?  It looks like the "Clean up on Aisle 45" will be continuing for quite some time. There is a LOT to clean up.

In not entirely unrelated news, hundreds of companies and corporate CEOs issued a full-size, two-page ad in the New York Times, Washington Post and other papers this week, with a short statement purporting to declare "WE STAND FOR DEMOCRACY," and noting: "We all should feel a responsibility to defend the right to vote and to oppose any discriminatory legislation or measures that restrict or prevent any eligible voter from having an equal and fair opportunity to cast a ballot."

Though the statement doesn't mention any specific states, it was issued in response to Republicans' recently enacted voters suppression law in Georgia and dozens of other states where similar restrictions on the franchise, in bills sponsored by GOP state lawmakers, are moving forward.  All of which is said to be in response to false claims by Trump and Republicans of massive fraud in 2020.  Georgia's new law, for example, makes it more difficult to vote by mail, limits the use of drop boxes, bans the distribution of food or water on long voting lines (which are all too typical in certain parts of the Peach State) and allows the partisan GOP state legislature to replace bipartisan County Election Boards with a single partisan person who will be able to unilaterally undermine elections or even overturn results.

While statements like the one issued this week in the two-page ad --- and, before it, by Atlanta-based companies such as Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines --- have resulted in good publicity for those signed onto them, they have also brought blowback from the right, leading Republicans (who pretend to abhor so-called "cancel culture") to demand boycotts of any company which stands up for voting rights.

I have railed in recent weeks about the absurdity of Republicans finally paying attention to concerns about new voter suppression laws only now that a number of corporations have come out in apparent opposition to such laws. Corporate entities, it seems, have far more sway with the GOP lawmakers who ignored weeks of complaints and protests about the new laws from actual voters before the GA law was passed.

But our guest today is seemingly even more cynical about these recent corporate declarations of fealty to democracy. We're joined today by MICHAEL HILTZIK, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and business columnist at the Los Angeles Times. He argued in his column this week that many of the "vague" declarations recently by large corporations are no substitute for actual action. He cites a host of companies, for example, which, following the January 6th U.S. Capitol insurrection, vowed to suspend donations to lawmakers who had voted to overturn the Electoral College results that same day. Despite those public pronouncements, he details one company after another --- from Jet Blue to AT&T to Toyota --- which, despite their previous public claims, have since given plenty of money to dozens of Republicans who voted against the certification of Biden's Electoral College victory.

In his column, he notes that while many companies and executives have come out in opposition of suppressive voting laws, almost none have gone on record to demand the passage of measures which would counteract them, such as the John Lewis Voting Rights Act or H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

"It's not that unusual for businesses to affiliate themselves on the side of the angels when they feel a lot of popular pressure to do so.  But once again the question is, what are they going to do about it?," Hiltzik tells me today. "Let's face facts. Many of the companies --- if not all of them --- that signed on to these statements, these honeyed words, had been assiduous supporters of the politicians who are now out there introducing and passing laws that restrict the voting franchise."

Criticizing their failure to speak out before Georgia's law was adopted, for example, he says, "They didn't really put their reputations on the line when they didn't think they had to.  And, as a result, we have a law in Georgia that's going to be very hard to repeal because the more these companies come out and say this is wrong, the more the rightwing legislators who passed it are doubling down, saying 'We're not going to kowtow to these liberal leftwing corporations'.  So they lost their chance. They're trying to recover. But I don't think they really deserve a lot of credence just by signing a statement."

Moreover, he explains, many of these very same companies have been opponents of democracy within their own corporate organizations. "What's really hypocritical is that these same companies that have said 'We believe in democracy, we believe in everybody having a vote' --- they've actually gone to the Securities and Exchange Commission and asked for, and received, a tightening of the rules that makes it even harder for small shareholders to get resolutions on the annual meeting agenda, and to actually get votes on the resolutions that they submit."

There is plenty of cynicism on today's show to go around. And it extends to our discussion of the need for campaign finance reform, and several neat GOP tricks that have long been used to prevent such long-overdue efforts to keep corporations out of our elections altogether.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us once again for our latest Green News Report, which, as always, is chocked full of important news, including Japan's announcement that they intend to dump more than a million tons of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea. And we close with a follow up to that story from the Guardian today, regarding Japan's ill-fated attempt to marginalize concerns from their own citizens and neighboring countries, by using a cartoon character dubbed "Little Mr. Tritium" to make the massive release of radioactive wastewater slightly more adorable than it actually otherwise is...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: State GOPers adopt Fossil Fuel Industry bills to nix renewables, block small government; Rep. Hastings RIP; Vaccines to all on April 19...
By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2021 6:27pm PT  

We have several fairly stunning plot twists to try and make sense of on today's BradCast, as Democrats hit a potential legislative jackpot in the U.S. Senate and Republicans pretend to turn against big business while actually turning against small government. [Audio link to the full show follows the summary below.]

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

  • President Biden moves up the date for vaccine eligibility to all Americans by two weeks, announcing that everyone in the U.S., 16 and older, will be eligible to sign up for COVID-19 shots by April 19th. That, as the race against new, deadlier variants --- and the premature easing of safety restrictions --- continues.
  • Florida's civil rights champion and 15-term Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings passes away at age 84 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, further narrowing, for now, the Democrats' already-narrow majority in the U.S. House. That, as...
  • Huge new legislative possibilities were opened for Democrats by the Senate Parliamentarian on Monday night. As we briefly explained last week (and in more detail on today's show), an obscure provision in the Budget Act of 1974 will allow Dems to "revise" their Budget Reconciliation bills, allowing them to pass new measures under arcane Senate rules that permit certain budget-related measures to be adopted by a simple majority vote. Democrats already knew they had two opportunities to do that this year --- and avoid the GOP filibuster against all of their proposals --- with budgets for fiscal year 2021 (since Republicans failed to pass one last year when they had control of the upper chamber) and for fiscal year 2022. Biden's COVID relief and stimulus bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, was adopted under the FY 2021 budget reconciliation provision and his $2.25 trillion infrastructure, jobs and climate proposal, the American Jobs Plan, was previously targeted for passage under FY 2022's budget reconciliation. But, after inquiry by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer as to whether a little-known or used provision of the Budget Act would allow more such bills to be adopted as "revisions" to both of those budget reconciliation packages, the Senate Parliamentarian has reportedly given her okay. That means that the American Jobs Plan can be adopted as a "revision" to the 2021 budget, and a previously unimagined set of possibilities has suddenly emerged for the 2022 plan or even additional revisions to 2021. There are some caveats --- as we discuss --- but, as wonky as all of it sounds, it is wildly good news for Democrats.
  • That good news for Dems is, of course, more bad news for a Republican Party drifting farther and farther away from both reality and their own supposedly long-held governing values --- at least the ones they pretended to have. Each passing day makes it clear that the GOP is adrift without any actual legislative agenda or principles at all. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long championed unlimited (and even undisclosed) corporate money in elections and politics, issued a statement on Monday pretending to be outraged by dozens of corporations speaking out democracy and against the voter suppression bill adopted by Republicans in Georgia last week.
  • But while Repubs in D.C. are trying on their new, "populist", "anti-corporate" costumes for a post-Trump era, GOPers in state legislatures across the country are still snuggling up with huge corporate interests in the fossil fuel industry to adopt legislation at the state level making it illegal for local towns and cities to ban the use of fossil fuels. Georgia is just the latest of dozens of states where this is happening right now. Among the states where efforts exactly like this are underway or already in place: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah

    And, if you're keeping score at home, that means the adrift Republican Party now claims to oppose corporate free expression in politics (they don't really) and are against local government decision making (they always have been, at least when small, local governments disagree with the GOP's corporate paymasters). Told you everything was twisted today! Or, as Desi Doyen smartly observes at one point: "It's not logical. It's political."

  • Finally, Desi's got our latest Green News Report, as failing infrastructure near Tampa, Florida is posing a huge, toxic crisis to local residents and wildlife; the Biden Administration pushes back against Republicans who pretend they don't know what infrastructure is; troubling new confirmation of climate change in Japan; and some very good news for a town with very bad air in Massachusetts...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: U.S. Senate confirms historic nomination of Michael Regan to head EPA; Biden's COVID relief bill is also sort of a climate bill; First major U.S. offshore wind farm clears key hurdle; PLUS: Ten years since triple disasters devastated Japan... 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): Geothermal Could be a Sleeper; European Parliament backs carbon border tax; DOE will spend billions on electric vehicle R&D in jobs fight with China; One bright side of 2020: A surge in battery storage; U.S. lawmakers propose giving USPS $6 billion for electric delivery vehicles... PLUS: Direct Air Capture of CO2 Is Suddenly a Carbon Offset Option... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Lauren Windsor of 'The Undercurrent'; Also: Trump's escape to Scotland?; How GOPers plan to challenge Biden's victory Wednesday...
By Brad Friedman on 1/5/2021 7:10pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: The last vote of the '2020' election has now been cast with Georgia's two U.S. Senate runoffs now over. The voting part anyway. Now the counting, fighting and complaining begin. [Audio link to full show follows below summary.]

We received mixed reports from on the ground in Georgia today. The state's voting systems manager, Gabriel Sterling, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Election Day in the contests that will determine partisan control of the U.S. Senate went very smoothly on the state's 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems made by Dominion and forced on in-person voters in the state for the first time in 2020 by their Republican Sec. of State, Brad Raffensperger. Lines to vote, according to Sterling were short in most places, though as long as 30 minutes at some Atlanta metro area voting stations. Other sources on the ground in the Peach State told us that lines in some places that were longer than for the Presidential general election back in November. Given there were just three races on the ballot (two for U.S. Senator, one for a Public Service Commissioner), there shouldn't have been any lines at all to speak of. Nonetheless, the 'Rube Goldberg' touchscreen computer ballot marking devices and the computerized pollbooks and computerized scanners that are used with them --- instead of a much simpler, verifiable, reliable hand-marked paper ballot system --- always take longer to cast a vote. They also, as usual, created problems for voters in several counties, with misprogrammed access cards and other reported failures. Emergency hand-marked paper ballots were said to have been deployed in some cases, as needed.

We try to read some of the tea leaves from today's reports, as to what it all may mean, while we wait for results that could come tonight....or over the next several days.

We're joined today from on the ground in Georgia by LAUREN WINDSOR, journalist, Executive Director of American Family Voices, producer of the grassroots political web-show, The Undercurrent, and, apparently, "operative", according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Windsor has been in the state for the past month with her producer, bird-dogging incumbent Republican millionaires and Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, regarding their respective stock market windfalls amid the COVID epidemic. They are running against Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, respectively.

She's been there as Trump has made a mess out of the runoffs, which he described over the weekend as "illegal", before showing up at a rally in the state, supposedly for Loeffler and Perdue on Monday night, not long after he confused matters further by calling for $2,000 COVID checks for Americans after Republicans (including the two GA incumbents) had insisted on $600 checks.

Windsor has broken a number of stories over that time, including last month when, as AJC documented, Perdue lied to her by claiming he planned to challenge Joe Biden's electoral vote count in the Senate tomorrow --- even though his term ended on January 3 and won't begin again until this year's election is decided and certified. Trump retweeted her tweet reporting Perdue's lie and his campaign then retweeted the President's tweet. There is apparently nobody left in the Republican Party who cares about telling the truth.

Both Perdue and Loeffer, she tells me, are "trying to have it both ways with regards to supporting the Electoral College challenge. Now they're trying to have it both ways with supporting the $2000 relief checks. They're saying, 'We'll tell you that's what we want, but we're actually going to work with McConnell to make sure it won't happen.'"

She shares of number of stories from her adventures over the past month covering both millionaires Perdue ("this guy owns a home within a gated community that's within a gated community.") and Loeffler ("It wasn't exactly a 'rag to riches story' for Kelly Loeffler. It was more of a 'riches to riches' story.) And Windsor also has some thoughts on the failure of Republican hoaxster James O'Keefe --- who she has also been bird-dogging for years now --- to deliver his promised "bombshells" on Democratic "voter fraud" in the 2020 cycle. Windsor also offers her careful prediction for how today's critical contests will ultimately shake out.

Also today, we enjoy a rare bit of speculation on Donald Trump's future, following a curious story out of Scotland Monday reporting that the tiny airport near Trump's failing Turnberry Golf Resort is set to "expect the arrival of a US military Boeing 757 aircraft" on January 19th, the day before Biden is to be inaugurated. Hmmm....

And, speaking of speculation, Politico has a few scoops on what House and Senate Republicans are planning for their challenges at Wednesday's joint session of Congress to the affirmation of Biden's Electoral College votes in at least three states (perhaps as many as six) during their desperate, last-ditch --- most likely futile, definitely sore-loser --- effort to overturn the 2020 Presidential election and/or make a name for themselves as 2024 Presidential contenders and/or ruin their chances all together in the bargain. We shall see. Suffice to say, Wednesday is likely to be a very long day, as we have long been warning.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our first Green News Report of 2021! With a whole bunch of stories we were unable to cover while off last week, including several new parting gifts from the Trump Administration, such as "bomb" trains and more asthma attacks for children, as well as some much better news for humanity and the planet out of Japan...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 1/5/2021 12:27pm PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: On way out the door, Trump Transportation Dept. approves natural gas 'bomb' trains; Trump EPA's parting gifts include more asthma attacks and premature deaths from air pollution; MI's Gov. Whitmer signs $640 million settlement in Flint Water Crisis; PLUS: Japan unveils ambitious national plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Global Warming Could Stop Relatively Quickly After Emissions Go to Zero; Trump auctions Arctic refuge to oil drillers in final major decision affecting US wilderness; Trump To Approve AZ Land Swap For Rio Tinto's Resolution Copper Project; Detroit business dumped liquid landfill waste in Flint system; How Trump Tried, but Largely Failed, to Derail Top U.S.Climate Report; Four U.S. Water Stories to Watch in 2021... PLUS: 117th Congress opens to new energy, environment fights... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Several victories for pro-democracy forces in MN, TX; FL Guv's registration hacked in voter database; VT Sec. of State demands correction from SCOTUS following Kavanaugh's error-filled WI opinion...
By Brad Friedman on 10/29/2020 7:05pm PT  

As I discuss near the top of today's BradCast, we are now in what amounts to a Cold Civil War on Democracy in this nation. The greatest direct threat we have ever faced to our Constitutional Republic since the Civil War is now playing out in our ongoing election. [Audio link to show is posted below this summary.]

As it turns out, that threat to what Joe Biden describes as "the soul of our nation", does not come from a foreign power, but from the President of the United States himself and his party of henchmen and supporters who are now attacking the very core of our Republic: the right to vote and to have that vote counted as cast. That right is now under direct assault in a way not seen since the Jim Crow era. And while the GOP has been using the guise of preventing "voter fraud" to wage similar battles in recent years, they aren't even trying to hide their direct assault on democracy anymore. They are simply using every (so far, peaceful) means possible --- legal and extra-legal --- to try and prevent legal voters from voting and lawfully cast ballots from being counted.

Unfortunately, they have packed enough stooges onto their stolen U.S. Supreme Court at this point, that they may pull it off...unless the pro-democracy forces simply overwhelm them between now and the close of polls next Tuesday night. Get busy, people. Only the fate of the Republic and...yes, human civilization, as Desi Doyen highlights yet again in our Green News Report today, are at stake.

Among the stories reported on today's show, as our trench warfare coverage continues...

  • Good news for democracy in Minnesota! A federal judge has ordered a mercenary contractor hiring armed para-militia to stalk polling places to stand down after violating federal voter intimidation laws. The company, Atlas Aegis, must also reveal who has been funding their program. The case is a victory for plaintiffs including the Minnesota chapters of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and League of Women Voters, as well as the group Free Speech for People (FSFP) whose lawyers brought the case. We spoke with FSFP attorney Ron Fein last week on the show, the day after the voter intimidation suit was filed in federal court;
  • Good news for voters in Texas! A Trump-appointed federal judge has found Gov. Greg Abbott's exemption for voters and pollworkers to his statewide mask mandate to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Masks must be worn inside of all polling places across the Lone Star state of today's ruling. The victory comes not a moment too soon, after several polling officials have already become sickened, poll sites were closed due to sick workers, and maskless poll watchers were said to have been using their presence to intimidate minority voters. That, in a state where the Republicans who have long controlled it went all the way to the Supreme Court to deny almost all voters under the age of 65 the right to request an absentee ballot due to fear of the spiking coronavirus pandemic. It's also another victory --- and a reversal of fortunes --- for the good folks at FSFP, including Senior Counsel Courtney Hostetler, who spoke with us on the show about their case in September, when its outlook then appeared grim;
  • More good news for democracy in Texas! A $31 million effort to improve access to the polls in the nation's third-largest voting jurisdiction, Harris County, which includes Houston, appears to have paid off big time. NBC News reports that more voters have now cast ballots there during early voting than were cast in the entire 2016 election. The increased turnout is thanks to expanded and innovative voting options, such as Early Voting sites that stay open later, some that stay open for 24 hours, and drive-thru polling places. The County's stunning turnaround in a state with notoriously low voter turnout comes after Dems won every countywide office in 2018, increased the elections budget from $4 million under GOP control to $31 million now, and with the hiring of innovative, 33-year old County Clerk Chris Hollins in late summer. Naturally, state Republicans have been challenging virtually every innovation to make it easier for voters to vote in the state's largest county. And while Gov. Greg Abbott has succeeded in limiting ballot drop-off locations to just one per county (from a dozen previously planned for sprawling Harris County, which is larger than Rhode Island), GOP attempts to block drive-thru voting have been denied by the state's all-Republican Supreme Court. Another new case was filed by Republicans this week, however, seeking to actually invalidate the votes of more than 100,000 voters who lawfully cast drive-thru votes during Early Voting.
  • On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court's issued an appalling ruling that blocks tens of thousands of lawfully cast mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day from being counted in Wisconsin if they arrive after Election Day due to, for example, slowdowns in U.S. Postal Service delivery by Trump's new Postmaster General. Criticism from legal experts and voting rights advocates of the embarrassingly error-riddled concurring opinion filed by GOP operative turned GOP activist Justice Brett Kavanaugh was swift. We discussed that factually deficient and laughable concurrence with Slate legal journalist Mark Joseph Stern in detail on yesterday's show. Among the egregious errors in the opinion was Kavanaugh's citing of Vermont's election laws. The Sec. of State of Vermont has now written a letter to the Court in response, demanding that the opinion be corrected to include actual facts about the state's voting laws, instead of the phony claims Kavanaugh made as he works toward using his lifetime appointment on the Court to steal this year's election on behalf of the man who appointed him to it;
  • Finally, as mentioned, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as a record fifth hurricane in a single season slams storm-weary Louisiana today; Trump opens the nation's last protected tropical rain forest to commercial logging; China and Japan vault ahead of the U.S. in their pledges to reach net-zero carbon emissions; and the case is made for Joe Biden to expand the Supreme Court if we are to have any chance of combating our swiftly worsening climate crisis.
  • P.S. The charming animated video of the Lincoln Project "Fairy Tale" we played at the top of today's show is here.

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By Desi Doyen on 10/29/2020 11:45am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Zeta slams into Louisiana, its fifth storm in a single season; Logging begins in pristine Tongass National Forest; China vaults ahead of U.S. on international climate pledge; PLUS: The case for court reform to protect climate legislation... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The most important climate ballot initiatives to watch on Election Day; Trump Administration hardens its attack on climate science; No matter who wins, US exits Paris Accord the day after the election; Wyoming is using dark money to keep coal plants open in othe states; Trump Interior Dept. 'propaganda' video and tweets may violate ethics laws; St. Augustine, FL struggles to save historic landmarks from increased flooding; EPA OKs soybean, dotton farmers’ use of dicamba weedkiller... PLUS: Trump Administration buries dozens of clean energy studies... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: Mark Joseph Stern on new Court opinions on 'faithless electors', Obamacare and the GOP's ongoing (and now deadly) war on voting...
By Brad Friedman on 7/7/2020 6:52pm PT  

We've got a bit of a roller coaster today between good news and terrible news on today's BradCast. But that's life in the times of Trump and the coronavirus, I guess. [Audio link to full show is posted below.]

First up today, the COVID-19 crisis continues to gravely worsen in the U.S., with new record infections and hospitalizations now pretty much every day for the past month. Despite the increasingly desperate concerns expressed by health experts, especially for hotspots where Governors reopened states far too early, some Republicans from the President of the United States on down are calling for measures that will only increase infection rates, hospitalizations and, yes, death.

Florida's Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran on Monday, for example, declared that all public schools must reopen next month to all students for in-person classes five days a week. His emergency order notes that reopening schools is critical to "a return to Florida hitting its full economic stride". That, despite more than 200,000 confirmed cases and new record daily infection rates each day for weeks now in the Sunshine State.

At the same time, in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, Donald Trump held a White House event to demand the reopening of schools and to praise Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis for a "terrific job" in ordering them to open. Trump claimed that schools have been closed elsewhere for "political reasons" and added that "we are very much going to put pressure on Governors and everybody else to open the schools." This is now a death march being led by the President of the United States.

But if Republican politicians are fine sending children and their teachers and their families to their potential deaths, how do you think federal judges appointed by Trump or sympathetic to his political cause are going to react to measures being taken to try and make voting safer for Americans on November 3rd? We're joined again today by Slate's ace legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to discuss Monday's opinions released by the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as a disturbing pattern of rulings at both SCOTUS and on the appellate level over the past two weeks that bodes darkly for this year's crucial Presidential election.

First, Monday's new opinions: The Court decided unanimously that states may prevent so-called "faithless electors" from casting their vote in the Electoral College for someone other than the Presidential candidate chosen by the state's popular vote. The issue stemmed from two combined cases of "faithless electors" in 2016, one of which was brought by plaintiff Michael Baca against Colorado. Baca appeared on The BradCast in December of 2016 to explain the reasons for his planned "faithless" vote in the Electoral College that year, before he was later prevented by the state from casting it.

While that opinion, written by Justice Elana Kagan received most of the media attention on Monday, another opinion handed down by the Court that day is likely of far greater import. The Court's 6 to 3 decision, with Justice Brett Kavanaugh writing for the majority in a case concerning robocalls made to cell phones, actually reveals some very encouraging news regarding a challenge to the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) that will be heard next session by the Court. Kavanaugh's opinion, striking down one element of a robocall law as unconstitutional while upholding the rest of the law, suggests the challenge to Obamacare by GOP-controlled states and the White House --- seeking to strike down the entire health care law as unconstitutional based on the constitutionality of one single, now meaningless, provision --- is likely to fail.

As Kavanaugh crucially noted in his opinion, in words that will be remembered next year during the ACA case: "Constitutional litigation is not a game of gotcha against Congress, where litigants can ride a discrete constitutional flaw in a statute to take down the whole, otherwise constitutional statute."

"It's important to note that seven justices agreed with [Kavanaugh] on that particular point," Stern tells me. "Only Thomas and Gorsuch disagreed."

And with that seemingly very good news out of the way, we turn to a flurry of recent decisions by both SCOTUS and a number of federal appeals courts that are extremely concerning and revealing as to how right-wing controlled federal courts will be dealing with voter suppression cases and measures intended to make voting easier during the pandemic this November. Recent court rulings in cases out of Florida, Wisconsin, Alabama and Texas, as Stern explains, are very troubling indeed and suggest we could be in for no small amount of chaos, disenfranchisement and, yes, deadly disease, in this year's critical general elections.

There are more opinions to come from the Court before they are finished for the summer. Quips Stern darkly today: "We've got a handful left, and we will see if the Supreme Court breaks our democracy before the end of the term."

Finally, we close with Desi Doyen and our latest Green News Report, with a bit more news out of SCOTUS and lower federal courts, including some surprisingly very good news on several controversial oil and gas pipelines!...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/7/2020 11:18am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Big and bad news for pipelines, good news for those who oppose them; Japan reeling from another round of record rains and catastrophic floods; Warren Buffett bids to control nearly 20 percent of nation's natural gas storage; PLUS: House Democrats unveil comprehensive proposal to reach net zero emissions by 2050... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate Activists See ‘New Era’ After Three Major Oil and Gas Pipeline Defeats; Climate change denial expands on Facebook as scientists face restrictions; Grim Day for Pipelines Shows They’re Almost Impossible to Build; US signs order for first West Coast gas-export terminal; Rapid Arctic Meltdown In Siberia Alarms Scientists... PLUS: Think Covid-19 Disrupted the Food Chain? Wait and See What Climate Change Will Do... and much, MUCH more! ...

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Guest: The Nation's John Nichols on the race after MI, WA, MO, MS, ND, ID; Also: Coronavirus threatening everything, including the 2020 election...
By Brad Friedman on 3/11/2020 6:33pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It was another big night for Joe Biden, as he appears to have been the clear winner in 4 of the 6 states (Michigan, Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota) which held Democratic Presidential primaries on Tuesday. But Bernie Sanders said on Wednesday that he is not out of the running just yet. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

In the meantime, the fallout from the coronavirus --- now officially a global pandemic according to the World Health Organization with more than 1,000 cases in the U.S. --- continues to have a growing affect on nearly every aspect of life in the U.S. and around the globe. Aside from school closures, town lock-downs, industries directing employees to work at home, cancellations of large festivals, conventions and now sporting events, including the NCAA's March Madness tournaments set to be played without spectators in the arena, the Dow took another tumble today, falling more than 1,400 points and ending the 11-year bull market begun under Obama in 2009.

We discuss all of that today, and the bumbling Trump Administration's egregious failures in managing the worsening epidemic, before breaking down the reported results from Tuesday's 6 primary states, where voters appear to have chosen Biden in MI, MO, MS and ID, while preferring Sanders in ND and maybe WA, where the Vermont Senator currently leads by a hair as Vote-by-Mail ballots continue to be tallied.

Once again, voters on Tuesday were forced to shamefully wait in hours-long lines to cast their ballots in locations in both Michigan and North Dakota, even as many voters on social media persist in forwarding unsupported charges that the DNC is somehow behind the numerous failures of local and state officials to run efficient, reliable, and publicly overseeable elections.

We share extended excerpts from Biden's remarks following his victories on Tuesday night, offered to a nearly empty hall in Philadelphia were coronavirus concerns resulted in only media and campaign staffers in attendance. And we also share Sanders' remarks from Vermont today, vowing to stay in the race at least through Sunday night's scheduled debate, the first head-to-head forum between the last two Democratic candidates still standing.

We are then joined by the great progressive journalist JOHN NICHOLS of The Nation to try and make some sense of this remarkable moment in history and the surprising state of play in the increasingly bizarre 2020 election. He argues that Sunday's one-on-one between the two candidates is likely to be "the most consequential debate of 2020," adding that he "suspect[s] it will matter more than the fall debates between Trump and whoever is nominated at this point, presumably Biden."

Citing Sanders' remarks on Wednesday, Nichols believes Sanders "left himself an exit ramp, and left Biden an entry ramp. Because he essentially told Biden what Biden's got to do" in order to win support from Sanders' movement. "I genuinely think that Sanders is proposing a debate where, if Joe Biden really steps up, he's going to narrow the lane for Bernie Sanders --- which is already narrow. If Joe Biden steps up, he's got a lot of opportunities here as an entry lane into the fall campaign [to]bring the movement on board and this will sort out."

Whether Biden seizes that moment, however, remains to be seen. His subdued and even Presidential remarks from Philadelphia on Tuesday certainly suggest he is capable of it. But we'll see. "Is he the right candidate?," Nichols asks rhetorically. "If you can't build your movement, your coalition, and you can only do it by kind of forcing people to make choices rather than inspiring or exciting people, then that's a problematic situation."

Among the other oddities and ironies of this moment, Nichols observes in his column today that while voters in MI, MO and MS voted for Biden on Tuesday, exit polls reveal that they actually support Sanders' central campaign proposal for single-payer Medicare for All by huge numbers in all three states. What explains that irony? Nichols offers his thoughts on that and much more on the state of the race in very dark times during our conversation today...

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Guest: Salon's Heather Digby Parton; Also: 40k false voter purges prevented in Ohio; The return of 'GNR'!...
By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2019 4:31pm PT  

Our long road toward catching up with a month's worth of news continues on today's BradCast, with voting news out of Battleground Ohio, the latest on Trump's impeachment and chaos in Syria (and the thing that ties them together), as well as the latest environmental and climate news after a month away. [Audio link to show posted at end of summary.]

First up today: Some surprisingly good news for voters out of Ohio! The biggest surprise, perhaps, is that it comes, at least in part, thanks to the state's new Republican Sec. of State Frank LaRose, who had the good sense to check with voting rights groups beforewrongly purging some 40,000 perfectly active and eligible voters from the rolls who should never have been flagged for removal in the first place! Most of his fellow Republicans are likely not happy about that.

Then, we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo to discuss the latest impeachment news and Trump's deadly withdrawal of U.S. troops from northern Syrian.

The impeachment inquiry over Trump's attempt to withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in exchange for its President's trumped-up state investigation of Joe Biden and the 2016 election continues to gain steam, with half a dozen or more current and former Executive Branch officials now lining up to testify --- and not in favor of Trump or his lackey lawyer Rudy Giuliani --- to Congressional investigators. Trump's former Russia and Europe expert, Fiona Hill, testified for some ten hours on Monday, reportedly citing Giuliani's shadow foreign policy schemes meant to undermine U.S. foreign policy and personally enrich the President in some way.

According to reports of her deposition, her superior on the National Security Counsel, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, was so alarmed by Giuliani's efforts he described the former NYC Mayor turned Fox 'News' conspiracist as a "hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up". Bolton reportedly tried to warn White House attorneys about Giuliani's many attempts to undermine U.S. Ukraine policy. Bolton himself, the unlikeliest of heroes in this shameful saga, may soon be called to testify to Congress in coming days, along with a long list of other State, Defense and National Security officials who now seem eager to defy the White House's strategy of denying both documents and testimony in the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry. "They're defying the White House telling them not to go testify," Parton observes, "That is a change. That is different than what we've seen. Suddenly that stonewall is crumbling."

We also discuss Parton's reasonable theory as to why this matter has finally resulted in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi giving full permission to her caucus to proceed with impeachment, where clear evidence of felony obstruction of justice from Robert Mueller's report and Trump's hush-money payoffs to porn stars to help win the 2016 Presidential election did not. "This is the same kind of stuff that Trump was accused of [in 2016], that we all suspected him of doing, colluding with a foreign government to sabotage his rival's campaign. Here he is [with Ukraine] doing it in real time. I think that's really what has made the difference."

In not-at-all-unrelated news, Parton goes on to discuss her latest Salon column in which she details how Trump's Syria pullout appears to be anything but an impulsive decision after a recent phone call with Turkish President Erdogan, as many in the media are still describing the disastrous move. She explains how the U.S. abandonment of our Kurdish allies with the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Northern Syria is of a piece with Trump's feckless Ukraine policy. In both cases, she explains, there is one unavoidable fact in common --- even for those of us who may not be Russia hawks: both actions, like so many other controversial policies of the Trump Administration, are in the clear and direct interest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Finally, we close today with the long-awaited return of the Green News Report, which we had been forced to suspend over the past month due to my family emergency. Somehow or another, Desi Doyen manages to fit in a month's worth of green news into the latest GNR in just six minutes. Buckle up --- and stay that way!...

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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...

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Guest: Author, investigative journalist David Neiwert; Also: Don't fall for Admin's Iran scam; DNC sets spots for first 2020 debate; Sanders defends democratic socialism, calls for FDR's Economic Bill of Rights...
By Brad Friedman on 6/14/2019 6:49pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A longtime investigative journalist who has documented the rise of the radical right has been suspended from Twitter for a ridiculous reason. Should that be cause for alarm for some of those on the left who applauded the recent removals of right-wingers from that and other social media platforms? [Audio link to show follows below]

But, first up today: Don't fall for it. The Trump Administration is making all sorts of evidence free allegations that Iran is attacking shipping tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Japanese owner of one of those tankers offers evidence that directly contradicts the U.S. claims and, so far, no other country is backing up Sec. of State Mike Pompeo's litany of evidence-free charges that Iran is behind a number of recent attacks. Of course, that didn't keep Donald Trump from telling Fox "News" on Friday: "Iran did do it and you know they did it, because you saw the boat." He was referring to a grainy, black and white video released Thursday night by U.S. Central Command purporting to show an Iranian vessel removing an unexploded mine from one of the tankers. Funny how easily Trump is convinced by remarkably thin evidence about something he wants to believe, versus mountains of evidence, gathered over years by independent sources, on things like climate change and his own obstruction of justice. Don't fall for it. Not again.

Then, we're joined by award-winning investigative journalist DAVID NEIWERT who, since Tuesday, has been "temporarily suspended" from Twitter due to a profile graphic he's used for two years on his account there, without incident, as taken from the cover of his 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump. Neiwert, who has been a contributing writer for the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center's "HateWatch" blog, as well as for MSNBC where his 2000 reporting on domestic terrorism earned him the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism, was informed by the popular social media platform that the profile graphic from his book --- a cleverly designed image of KKK hoods atop each of the white stars on the American flag --- violates Twitter's "sensitive media policy" rules barring "symbols historically associated with hate groups" in profile or header images.

Obviously, his use of the graphic is meant as commentary on those symbols, rather than in support of them. Still, his "temporary suspension" has resulted in all of his tweets being unavailable and a restriction on posting any new ones until he removes the graphic in question. He is refusing to do so, though he is still in contact with Twitter and hopes to negotiate a solution to what he describes at Daily Kos today as an ill-conceived policy that fails "to distinguish hate speech from the efforts to oppose it".

"Literally, they can set any standards that they want, because they are private platforms," he tells me, correctly noting that the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment free speech clause applies only to the Government, not private businesses. "Twitter has announced that it wants as its standard to remove hate speech. But it isn't distinguishing between hate speech and actual efforts to fight hate speech. It's not making that distinction. And it's supposed to be doing this on behalf of the effort to fight hate speech, because this is its standard."

"The problem is they're basically trying to replace human judgment with an algorithm. And algorithms are stupid. They can't figure this stuff out. They lack the human judgment." Nonetheless, as we discuss, even after his graphic may have been pinged by an algorithm --- likely set off by folks on the alt-right who dislike him --- human intervention has yet to result in his account being unlocked again.

With some 500 million tweets a day, he recognizes, the platform must "use algorithms to flag these things, that's just the nature of the beast. But how many suspensions for hate speech do they make? Probably not very many. Probably in the hundreds. That's something that's manageable on a human level, and it's something that requires human judgment to make those calls. And they just need to bite the bullet and recognize that they need to employ smart, well-trained humans to do that job. That they can't rely on an algorithm to do it."

Neiwert has supported the recent deplatforming across a number of the most popular social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube of conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones of InfoWars, right-wingers like Milo Yiannopoulos and White Nationalists like Richard Spencer, though he notes that others, such as former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke have not been removed. Nonetheless, while the removal of far right figures has been met with cheers from many on the Left, should Neiwert's case give pause to some of those cheering progressives? Isn't fascist speech still free speech after all? And what happens if a right-winger were to take over ownership of outlets like Twitter? We discuss that and much more, including Neiwert's very early and astonishingly prescient warning about Donald Trump way back in late 2015.

Also today, the DNC announces the results of its random drawing to determine which ten 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates will appear together on each of the two nights of the first Presidential debates set for June 26 and 27 in Miami. And then we close with an excerpt from candidate Bernie Sanders' recent policy address at George Washington University in which he calls for a 21st Century Economic Bill of Rights modeled on one sought by FDR to guarantee a living wage, affordable housing, health care and a complete education for all, as he makes the case that democratic socialism is the only way to offer "true freedom" from corporate oligarchy and rising authoritarianism...

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Guest: MIT nuclear proliferation expert Vipin Narang; Also: Flooding, evacuations in AR, MO; GOP pushback against Trump's new Mexican tariff scheme; The necessity of continuing to talk about impeachment...
By Brad Friedman on 5/31/2019 6:44pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we really tried to talk about something other than impeachment...and we mostly did! You're welcome! But don't expect it to last. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today, as predicted, during a very brief pause in the record severe weather that's been afflicting the central U.S. for weeks, flooding continues to be a major problem today and is getting worse. Mandatory evacuations are now in place in both Arkansas and Missouri after levees have breached, been topped or may do so soon both states. Thousands of homes are threatened there and elsewhere as some 80 different river gauges in 10 different states indicate the highest category of major flooding, with more severe weather predicted in the days ahead for rain soaked Oklahoma, Kansas, North Dakota, Louisiana and other Midwestern states.

In politics today, Republicans and major business groups are pushing back at Donald Trump's surprise announcement on Thursday evening that he plans to impose unilateral new taxes on all goods coming in from Mexico, in hopes of forcing our southern neighbor --- in some fashion --- to stop the flow of migrants coming into the U.S. from Central America. The new tariffs --- which are taxes paid by American importers and consumers (despite the President mischaracterization) --- would begin at 5%, and increase by the same amount until reaching 25%under Trump's scheme. A number of GOP lawmakers, particularly in farm states such as Iowa, are blasting the proposal, and warning that it is likely to derail Congressional ratification of Trump's updated NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada. It is also likely to cost billions to American businesses --- particularly in the automobile and agriculture sectors --- and threaten hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Meanwhile, calls for official impeachment proceedings to begin against the President get louder each day following Special Counsel Robert Mueller's statement this week clarifying the evidence in his report of serious obstruction of justice crimes by the President and a need for Congress to take action. A stunning reported comment from an attendee at a town hall held this week in Grand Rapids by Michigan's Republican Rep. Justin Amash underscores the necessity to continue informing the public about Mueller's findings. (So, yeah, we're gonna have to continue doing so. Sorry.) Amash remains the only Republican member of Congress, so far, to call for impeachment proceedings and, perhaps, clearest and most effective voices among Rs or Ds in Congress as to why taking action to hold the President accountable is so crucial.

But outside of Congress, a group of former high-level GOP attorneys are also making their voices heard, with a new video detailing several of Trump's obstruction crimes highlighted by Mueller. The group, Republicans for the Rule of Law, says they plan to begin airing a shorter version of their new ad on TV outlets such as Fox "News", where --- at least according to that attendee at Amash's town hall --- only fake news, falsely claiming Mueller exonerated Trump, is being heard.

Finally today, after several months of relative calm during negotiations with Trump, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un began testing missiles again in early May. While Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton has described the tests as a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and South Korea sees the tests as a potential violation of recent agreements between the two Koreas, Trump has continued to downplay --- or completely deny --- Kim's actions.

At the same time, as the North fires ballistic missiles and continues to amass nuclear weaponry, Trump --- who spent the Memorial Day weekend in Japan to discuss this and other matters --- still seems more obsessed with Iran, who does not have nuclear weapons, but is now said to be increasing their fissile material enrichment program in the wake of Trump pulling out of the seven-nation anti-nuclear agreement struck during the Obama Administration. Trump now says he'd "like to make a deal" with Iran, but Iran says they see "no prospect" of such a deal with this American President.

We're joined today by VIPIN NARANG of MIT's Security Studies Program to try and make sense of what is or isn't going on on the Korean peninsula, and how the Trump Administration is or isn't responding to both North Korea and Iran. That, after Trump sided with Kim, while on foreign soil in Japan last weekend, to attack former Vice President and 2020 Presidential hopeful Joe Biden --- and amidst unconfirmed reports from South Korean media that Kim has executed his top nuclear negotiator and four other senior Foreign Ministry officials following the failed summit between him and Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam last February.

Among the very clarifying information from Narang on North Korea, he warns: "The risk now is that by [Trump] green-lighting North Korean tests short of ICBMs, it may encourage or embolden Kim Jong Un to continue testing more frequently, and maybe longer-range missiles. We've seen Trump flip very quickly, so if Kim Jong Un makes a mistake of pushing the line just a little bit too far, or testing one missile too many, President Trump can flip and feel betrayed very quickly." He adds: "If you get a missile test that really pushes a line, then we could end up back [like] in 2017 [with threats of 'fire and fury'], but without the possibility of a diplomatic off-ramp."

Narang, who focuses at MIT on nuclear proliferation, strategy and South Asian security, is the author of the award-winning Nuclear Strategy in the Modern Era. Among the insights he offers regarding Trump's on-again, off-again chest thumping against Iran: "It's very difficult to envision a deal with Iranians that is better than the JCPOA ... You're not going to get everything you want in a deal, and that's what the Iranians were willing to accept. And then you have to ask yourself, is a world with the JCPOA in that incarnation better than a world without? And I think it was. It was working."

In both cases, in North Korea and Iran --- as well as the United States --- Narang warns that "dysfunction within the [Trump] Administration" is allowing hardliners to gain the upper-hand against peace initiatives. "The irony is that the hardliners in the United States that want to press Iran, and press North Korea, forget that those countries have hardliners, also." Our actions, he cautions, are now serving to embolden them.

"The horse is out of the barn in North Korea. You're not going to take away their nuclear weapons. The aim should be to avoid a war," he argues. "In the medium term, the risk with this strategy is that North Korea miscalculates, or that Iran miscalculates, and then Trump flips...In the long run, the problem is if this dysfunction isn't sorted out, we are setting ourselves up for crises in both areas."

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More Trump embarrassments abroad; More deadly tornado swarms; More rightwing buffoonery; More bad news from SCOTUS; Some good news for TX; And Mayor Pete doubles-down against 'draft dodger' Trump...
By Brad Friedman on 5/28/2019 6:44pm PT  

Someone needs to let the President of the United States know that Memorial Day is, at least in theory, a somber remembrance for the nation's war dead. It might have been nice if that someone had done so before Trump showed up in Japan over the weekend --- for talks with that nation's Prime Minister --- and wished U.S. troops stationed with our ally and former WWII foe a "Happy Memorial Day!" It certainly wasn't a happy one around many parts of the U.S. for a number of reasons. But, once again, we try to find the bright spots where we can.

Among the swarm of stories covered on today's BradCast [Audio link posted below summary]...

  • The record swarm of tornado swarms continued on Memorial Day, with some 53 twisters touching down in eight different states on the same day. A man in Ohio was killed when a car flew into his living room and at least 130 were reportedly injured in the Buckeye State, where power was knocked out to more than 5 million residents as of Tuesday morning. "Catastrophic" destruction was seen across many states after Monday marked a record-tying 11th straight day with at least eight tornadoes in the U.S. according to NOAA. Whether media outlets connected the virtually unprecedented storms (and month of flooding in the Midwest and Central U.S. that preceded it) to our worsening climate crisis is another matter entirely;
  • Speaking of Ohio, at least before the storms, a KKK rally on Saturday brought out 9 Klansmen and between 500 and 600 counter-protesters. At least the folks in Dayton got that one right, if not some of their responses to emergency interruptions during their favorite TV programs as tornadoes swept through the state on Monday;
  • And, speaking of getting it wrong, there is the far-right evangelist Franklin Graham, son of the late, respected minister Billy Graham. Franklin, a Trump supporter who has attacked Indiana Mayor and 2020 hopeful Pete Buttigieg for being both gay and a practicing Christian at the same time, used his tax-exempt religious pulpit to call for "Christian leaders" to declare a "day of prayer" next Sunday for Donald Trump, who, Franklin says, has been "attacked" by his "enemies" more than "any President in the history of this nation". President Abraham Lincoln dissents;
  • As the loony right rises, or tries to, we move out west to Fresno, California, which, as we reportedly exclusively back in 2013, single-handedly blocked an attempted statewide "recount" of Prop 37, a state ballot initiative that would have required the labeling of GMO foods. The wingnuttery in Fresno continued over the weekend, as its minor league baseball franchise, the Fresno Grizzlies, "celebrated" Memorial Day with a video tribute that featured a speech by Ronald Reagan and a montage of Americas "enemies" that included Kim Jong Un, Fidel Castro and....wait for it....New York's Democratic freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The team eventually apologized to AOC --- hours after their initial apology for the video itself --- though they never bothered to mention that, among other "enemies" shown in the 3 and a half minute video played at the ballpark, anti-fascism and anti-KKK marchers were also singled out. 'Happy' Memorial Day!;
  • In voting news over the long weekend....the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday put on hold two different earlier rulings from lower federal appeals courts finding that Republicans in both Ohio and Michigan had unconstitutionally gerrymandered their Congressional maps for the past decade. The high court's action was issued without comment as we await their pending decisions on two similar cases the Justices heard earlier this year regarding unlawful partisan gerrymanders in North Carolina and Maryland. That may be a bad omen for those two cases. But, for now, the SCOTUS order blocks the lower court orders to draw new, fair Congressional maps for 2020 in Ohio by June 14 and in Michigan (where new state legislative districts were also ordered) by August 1;
  • There was better news, for a change, in the state of Texas of all places. The state's legislative session ended on Monday without confirmation of the nomination of Gov. Greg Abbott's Secretary of State David Whitley, thanks to all Senate Democrats refusing to support him. Whitley was forced to resign without the confirmation, which was withheld after the unqualified former travel aid to Abbott had falsely announced in January that 100,000 non-citizens were registered to vote in Texas, with 58,000 of them having illegally cast votes since 1996. As it turns out, most of those voters had become naturalized citizens over that period. But that didn't prevent Whitley from instructing the state's County Clerks to purge voters in 30 days unless they could prove their citizenship or from referring the case to the TX Attorney General who promptly ordered criminal investigations for his own part in the attempted purge. The state was sued by three different voting rights groups and a number of naturalized citizens. They were forced to settle by changing voter roll purge rules for the future and paying some $450,000 to plaintiffs for their legal costs and fees;
  • Finally today, with at least 24 candidates vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination and debates set to begin next month, voters have been sizing up how the hopefuls might take on Donald Trump next year (presuming he's the GOP nominee) if they win the nod. Last week, during a Washington Post forum, South Bend, IN Mayor Buttigieg, who was deployed to Afghanistan in the Naval Reserves, cited Trump's draft dodging due to a claimed "disability" during the Vietnam War. When asked about his comments over the weekend on ABC's This Week, rather than backing off of them, Buttigieg doubled-down, revealing a) Trump was, indeed, a draft dodger who now pretends to revere the military, but who was willing to let someone else take his place in Vietnam and b) Mayor Pete is not afraid to stand up, at least rhetorically, to the bully who has become the President of the United States, even after some in the media attempted (as they do) to try and call him out for it...

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