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Latest Featured Reports | Monday, December 9, 2019
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
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...


A day full of both historic and chilling news...
By Brad Friedman on 12/5/2019 6:28pm PT  

Today's BradCast offers some historic news and some chilling news. And some that may be both. [Audio link to show follows below.]

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that she is directing House Democrats to move forward to draw up Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump. It is only the fourth time in our nation's history for such an action. We share Pelosi's somber announcement and the history lesson that it includes, as well as the reaction from the White House, from Trump himself, and the steps that lie ahead in the House Judiciary Committee as we move toward a trial in the U.S. Senate for removal of the President.

The historic action, which reportedly may include as many as four different Articles of Impeachment --- Abuse of Power, Bribery, Obstruction of Congress (in the Ukraine affair) and Obstruction of Justice (in the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe) --- has become necessary, according to Pelosi, to save the republic in light of Trump's recently revealed attempts to undermine the 2020 election with help, once again, from a foreign nation.

Then, the Dept. of Justice on Thursday announced two indictments of Russian hackers --- whose whereabouts are currently unknown --- as part of what officials describe as one of the largest cybercrime sprees in U.S. history. The sweeping criminal conspiracy was allegedly led by the two men, who officials have tied to Russian security services. It involves malware designed to defeat anti-virus software distributed by a group named Evil Corp (seriously) and used to siphon more than $100 millions dollars from the bank accounts of companies and even school districts in at least 11 states. The malware phishing schemes reportedly even targeted a small organization of nuns in Chicago.

While that attack has been broad and ongoing over many months, a seemingly separate scheme, also tied to Russians criminals, crippled technology services to more than 100 nursing homes across the U.S. with a ransomware attack on the company that provides the tech services to those facilities. Following a successful emailed phishing attack on November 18, that someone within the company appears to have clicked on, the network of the Milwaukee-based firm was infected, leading the cybercriminals to demand $14 million for the restoration of access to at least 100 hijacked servers. Reporting over the Thanksgiving holiday suggests the company will rebuild their servers rather than pay the ransom. But, in the meantime, some of the nursing homes serviced by the company were unable to access patient records, use the internet, pay employees or order medications. AP reports that ransomware attacks of this kind have been on the rise in 2019, particularly those that target critical public services, with some 70 such attacks in the first half of the year targeting more than 50 cities.

Another victim --- and here's where it begins to get even more chilling --- was the state of Louisiana. They appear to have been attacked on the same day as the Milwaukee tech services company. What makes this attack far more unnerving is that it took place just two days after Louisiana's recent gubernatorial run-off election on November 16.

While the state was quick to stop the spread of the virus, they had to shut down vital state services at dozens of agencies, including the Office of the Governor, the Louisiana State Legislature, the Office of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Children and Family Services, the Department of Health and others, such as the Louisiana Secretary of State's office on the heels of the major runoff elections just two days earlier. Hundreds of computers were affected in the state overall, including those offering elections results to the public at the Secretary of State's website. Had the attack come just days earlier, it might have been devastating for the state's elections, which shamefully require all voters at the polls to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen computer voting systems. Had those been knocked out --- or the electronic pollbook systems required to use them --- chaos might have ensued in the closely watched statewide election.

Nonetheless, dozens of other states and counties around the country (many of them battlegrounds and/or highly-populated) are currently moving --- right now! -- to similar computer touchscreen voting systems that rely on working computer networks in advance of the critical 2020 elections. Those systems will be wildly vulnerable next year, where unhackable hand-marked paper ballot systems would not be. Are we insane?

Finally Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, with even more chilling news. Though, in this case, it's about the warming of the globe and the GOP Senate confirming yet another lobbyist to a top Trump cabinet seat. Happily, there is a bit of good news in today's GNR as well, regarding California's ban on new fracking, and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg's safe arrival back in Europe for this year's U.N. climate conference in Spain...

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

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Setting politics aside, why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election actually make no sense whatsoever...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/29/2019 10:05am PT  

Sometimes, when faced with an insidious canard, it isn't enough to either expose the true source of a conspiracy theory or the absence of any facts to support it. In order to thoroughly demolish it, one can identify a reductio ad absurdum --- "a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to absurd conclusions".

It is indeed important that, throughout the recent public impeachment hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) referred to allegations that CrowdStrike and the Ukrainians hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in 2016 as a "debunked" conspiracy theory and that none of the State Department and National Security Counsel (NSC) officials who testified during the impeachment hearings could identify any evidence that would support that "debunked" theory. It is also important that, in her opening statement, Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump's own former NSC Senior Director of Russian and European Affairs, proclaimed that Russian intelligence agencies were the source of that "fictional" canard.

While there is ample evidence to support the conclusions offered by Dr. Hill and Chairman Schiff, one can deliver the coup de grâce to the baseless but insidious theory that Ukraine and CrowdStrike hacked the DNC by asking "why" they would do that?...

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




Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts for your use over the holiday...
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2019 5:15pm PT  

On today's BradCast: A few holiday morsels that we hope may come in handy over your Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Donald Trump, along with his cowardly Republican apparatchik and dishonest rightwing media machine, have all been busy pretending over the past several days that the first two weeks of public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee were somehow "a disaster for Democrats." Even mainstream corporate media have been helpful in spreading that fake news.

Polling, however (among other things), suggests the opposite --- unless 50% majority support for impeachment and removal of the President of the United State from office, according to CNN [PDF], and steadily increasing support for impeachment over each week of public hearings, according to Reuters/Ipsos, is somehow "a disaster for Democrats".

By way of comparison, at the height of Bill Clinton's impeachment in 1998, support for the GOP effort among Americans was never higher than 29%. And yet, 50% want Trump out already, after just two weeks of public testimony. (It took nearly a year of impeachment inquiry before the worst evidence against Richard Nixon even became apparent, by the way.)

At the same time, even since the first round of hearings concluded last week, there has been a constant drip, drip, drip of increasingly damning information against the President, shoring up an already overwhelming amount of evidence that Trump directed a quid pro quo bribery scheme against Ukraine by withholding a White House meeting and hundreds of millions in military aid in exchange for the announcement of a Ukraine investigation into his 2020 political rival Joe Biden and a debunked, nonsensical theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of Hillary Clinton, not Trump.

In just the few hours since our previous BradCast, newly released testimony from a top official in the White House Office of Management and Budget reveals that two OMB officials quietly resigned over the summer due, at least in part, to their concerns about the legality of Trump's order to withhold Congressionally-allocated military aid to Ukraine for personal political purposes.

Also, the New York Times has reported that Trump had been briefed about the complaint from the whistleblower that kicked off this impeachment inquiry before he finally unfroze military aid for Ukraine in September. Moreover, that report helps to explain Trump's strange insistence to his EU Ambassador that "there is no quid pro quo!" long before the phrase had even made it into the public discussion of the matter.

So, as things get worse for the President, somehow it's "a disaster for DEMOCRATS"?

As many Americans today are heading home for the holidays and may have to discuss all of this with their Trump-lovin' relatives over the holiday table, we thought it'd be helpful to supply a bit of (non-lethal) ammunition. While various blockbuster revelations from witnesses received most of the attention over the first two weeks of lengthy public hearings in the House, the closing summations each day and at the end of the series of hearings by Intelligence Chair Rep. Adam Schiff received far less attention. That's a pity, as the Congressman --- a former prosecutor who served as Asst. U.S. Attorney in the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office before being elected to Congress --- gives one helluva closing summation.

Today, we share two of those closing arguments, as they nicely wrap up both what this impeachment is about, how damning the evidence already is against the President, and what the stakes are for the country.

Our mission, as journalists, is to help educate and inform the electorate. That's not easy these days in a post-truth world full of fake news, a lying President, and still far too much corporate media hackery. We hope today's program might help you to help ALL of us find our way out of this otherwise very dark hour in American history. We ALL must play a part in that, right now, if our republic is to survive this unprecedented attack.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving. Somehow...

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

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Also: Federal Judge says McGahn must testify; GA SoS attempts to intimidate election experts; High profile resignation at Verified Voting; Callers ring in after blockbuster impeachment week...
By Brad Friedman on 11/25/2019 6:10pm PT  

Hmmm....That's interesting. With all of those pro-Trump callers we had last week after Week 1 of impeachment hearings, there were none willing to call in to today's BradCast to defend the President after the bombshells of Week 2. I wonder why. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Before we get to those calls today, a few other news headlines of note that we've been trying to get to for several days (and hope to cover more in coming days), but for our impeachment coverage over the past week. Among those stories...

  • Georgia's new Republican Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger is attempting to intimidate election integrity and computer science experts by announcing official state investigations of their activities. The recently announced probes are of prominent experts, several of whom have appeared on The BradCast as guests multiple times. They have been critical of Raffensperger for installing new, hackable, unreliably and 100% unverifiable touchcreen Ballot Marking Device (BMD) voting systems across the state before 2020, despite the new systems' disastrous performance failures in the counties which pilot tested them in the recent 2019 off-year elections;
  • The inventor of the Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) protocol, used by some jurisdictions to (supposedly) assure that computer tabulators correctly tallied voter intent when reporting election results, has resigned from the previously well-respected voting system watchdog group Verified Voting. Prof. Philip Stark of UC Berkeley has been critical of the group on which he served on their Board of Directors, for helping to validate what he describes as "meaningless" [PDF] post-election audits in jurisdictions --- such as Georgia and Philadelphia --- where unverifiable BMD systems are used to mark paper ballot summaries. He argues that only hand-marked paper ballots can be known to reflect voter intent, and that RLA's of computerized ballots is likely to offer a false sense of security in results produced on such systems. Stark sent a dramatic resignation letter over the weekend, blasting VV for "providing cover for inherently untrustworthy voting systems --- and the officials who bought them, the companies that make them, and any officials who might contemplate buying them in the future --- by conducting 'risk-limiting audits' of untrustworthy paper records, creating the false and misleading impression that relying on untrustworthy paper for a RLA can confirm election outcomes (and debasing the meaning of "RLA" in the process)";
  • In related-ish news, but far more hopeful news, the New Jersey Assembly voted to restore voting rights to some 83,000 people on parole & probation. The measure would overturn a law adopted in 1844, but must still be approved in the state Senate and sighned by the Governor;
  • And, in breaking news just as today's show began, a federal court judge has ruled that Donald Trump's former White House Counsel Don McGahn must respond to a lawful U.S. House subpoena for documents and testimony related to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe, during which McGahn testified that Trump attempted to obstruct justice at least 10 different times. While the ruling is likely to be appealed by Trump's Dept. of Justice, the order to testify would also likely apply to a host of top Trump officials who have refused to answer Congressional subpoenas in the Trump/Ukraine affair for which he is currently facing an impeachment inquiry, after the Administration has claimed "absolute immunity" from Congressional oversight.

Speaking of which, we summarize last week's explosive impeachment hearings today, and cover a number of new, related stories which broke over the weekend before opening the phones to callers. Last week, when we did same after Week 1 of public testimony in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, we heard from a number of callers who remained strongly opposed to Trump's impeachment and removal. Today, however, when we opened the phones to listeners to take their temperature after the several blockbuster revelations of Week 2, those callers were nowhere to be found...Go figure!

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Get your impeachment news the American way! From Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Sam Bee and Trevor Noah!...
By Brad Friedman on 11/22/2019 6:00pm PT  

On today's BradCast, After a dizzying two weeks of damning testimony against Donald J. Trump in his ongoing impeachment inquiry in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, we thought we'd check in on how the hours and hours (and hours) of public hearings might be playing in "real America", as they are reported back to the electorate on late night comedy shows --- where many Americans get all of their news.

Thus, we're happy to present today's BradCast 'Late-Nite' Comedy Impeachment Hearings Week-In-Review Special!, featuring testimony from key witnesses to Trump's Ukraine bribery scheme over the past two weeks, in clips (and songs!) from Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah!

There's just one thing that ya need to know: Trump said "Do us a favor, though!"

Enjoy!...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Special coverage of both with David Bender and Jackie Schechner...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2019 5:35pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we impossibly offer special coverage of both Wednesday night's Democratic 2020 Presidential Debate in Atlanta and Wednesday night and Thursday morning's blockbuster public impeachment hearings in the U.S. House. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

First up today: Wednesday's second session in the House Intelligence Committee featuring Laura Cooper, Deputy Asst. Secretary of Defense for Russia and David Hale, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in which Cooper revealed that Ukrainian officials were aware of the Trump Administration's freeze on nearly $400 million in military assistance at least a month earlier than previously known. The claim undercuts GOP claims that the pressure campaign on Ukraine couldn't have been a quid pro quo because Ukraine didn't know their military assistance had been withheld. Both officials says they had no idea why the White House had frozen the funds. Their testimony also backs up the bombshell testimony earlier in the day from Gordon Sondland, Donald Trump's EU Ambassador, who charged that the scheme amounted to a clear quid pro quo by the President, as Sondland was assigned to take the lead in Trump's pressure campaign to force the Ukrainian President into announcing investigations of the 2016 election and Joe Biden in exchange for a White House meeting and millions of dollars in military aid approved by a bipartisan Congress.

And, on Thursday, David Holmes, political adviser at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine and Dr. Fiona Hill, who served as Trump's top Russia and Ukraine expert on the National Security Council under John Bolton, offered riveting testimony in the last of the Committee's scheduled impeachment hearings, for now. Holmes detailed the unsecured cell-phone conversation he overheard between Trump and Sondland at a cafe in Kiev, in which the President was eager to hear about the investigations into his political rivals on the day after his infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Holmes said Sondland told him Trump didn't care about Ukraine, other than as it pertained to the President's personal reelection interests. Hill, a longtime non-partisan foreign service officer, shared gripping details on the Russia/Ukraine conflict, describing the Trump/Rudy Giuliani/GOP claim that Ukraine interfered with the 2016 election as a "fictional narrative" propagated by Russia. She detailed Bolton's description of Rudy Giuliani as "a hand grenade who’s going to blow everybody up," adding, "I think that’s where we are today." Hill also went on to explain Trump's pursuit of what she described as a "domestic political errand" that came at the expense of official American foreign policy.

Then, we move on to Wednesday evening's 2020 Presidential Debate featuring ten candidates --- Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Harris, Klobuchar, Steyer, and Yang --- in the 5th such forum of the year, this one sponsored and moderated by hosts from MSNBC and Washington Post. We're joined for insight and analysis on BOTH of our special coverage topics today by longtime political activist, reporter, author, broadcaster and documentarian DAVID BENDER, Political Director of Progressive Voices Network and journalist, producer and communications expert JACKI SCHECHNER, formerly of CNN and CurrentTV.

Among the many debate-related matters we discuss today: How Wednesday's forum, lead by four female journalists, differed from previous debates this year; whether Democrats are focusing too much or not enough on the dangers posed to the nation and the world by Donald Trump; whether the Democratic Party is adequately reaching out to the anti-war left (some of whom abandoned them for Trump in 2016); Joe Biden's frailty and Tulsi Gabbard's politics; and what if any effect Michael Bloomberg may have on the race if and when he finally enters --- as he continues to threaten...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Special impeachment hearing coverage with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2019 4:06pm PT  

We go to air, on today's BradCast, midway between the two sets of witnesses on Day 3 of public hearings in the U.S. House impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump, with testimony from Kurt Volker, former U.S. special envoy to Ukraine and Tim Morrison, the National Security Council's former chief Russia and Ukraine adviser --- both of whom have since resigned in the wake of the Ukraine scandal --- scheduled for the afternoon session. So we focus today on the testimony from Tuesday's morning session featuring Lt. Col Alexander Vindman, the Ukraine expert on Donald Trump's NSC and Jennifer Williams, Vice President Mike Pence's Ukraine expert. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Both of those witnesses have served for years as government officials. Williams was hired as a political appointee by the George W. Bush Administration after working on his Presidential campaign. Vindman, who immigrated here from Soviet-era Ukraine with his family when he was three, is a 20-year, decorated military man and Purple Heart recipient after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2014. Both officials were listening in during Donald Trump's infamous July 25 call to Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky when Trump asked him for the "favor" of investigations into Joe Biden and his son's involvement with Ukrainian gas company Burisma, and into the Russia-supported theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 U.S. President election.

Williams described the President's phone call with Zelensky as "inappropriate", as did Vindman, who was so "shocked" by the attempt at strong-arming Ukraine for Trump's personal political purposes that he brought his concerns to the NSC's top legal counsel on two separate occasions. The first time was after a July 10 White House meeting with Ukrainian officials, after then National Security Advisor John Bolton objected strongly to Trump-donor turned EU Ambassador Gordon Sondland (who testifies on Wednesday) informing the foreign emissaries that they would need to carry out those investigations in order to receive a White House meeting for President Zelensky, and again after the July 25 phone call when nearly $400 million in military aid was held up by the Administration in exchange for the "favor" Trump sought from the Ukrainians. Vindman testified today that he "couldn't believe what [he] was hearing".

“It was probably an element of shock — that maybe, in certain regards, my worst fear of how our Ukraine policy could play out was playing out, and how this was likely to have significant implications for U.S. national security,” Vindman explained.

We share portions of Vindman's testimony on both of the disturbing July events, including his concerns that the pressure campaign was a threat to U.S. national security, along with his personal response to the attacks he has received from the President and others since his role in what Democrats describe as the President's bribery scandal has come to light.

We're joined once again by our special BradCast Impeachment Correspondent Heather Digby Parton of Salon and Digby's Hullabaloo to discuss today's proceedings, including how Vindman's testimony blew up the Trump/GOP narrative that the pressure campaign was meant to combat corruption in Ukraine; what Democrats hope Americans take away from today's testimony; how Republicans are responding in their alternate reality world; how John Bolton might actually prove to be a hero in this story (as unlikely as that seems); and, by the way, what was Donald Trump doing in his unannounced, rushed, mysterious weekend trip to Walter Reed Medical Center anyway?

Finally today, as if all of that is not enough, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our latest Green News Report, on record, climate change-fueled flooding in the historic city of Venice; Ford's new all-electric Mustang SUV, and a landmark, bipartisan legislative plan passed by New Zealand to reach net zero carbon emissions in just over a decade...

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

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While we post The BradCast here every day, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!
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Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
By Brad Friedman on 11/13/2019 5:58pm PT  

On today's BradCast, our special coverage of the first day of public hearings in the impeachment inquiry of Donald J. Trump. [Audio link to show is posted below.]

We share extended excerpts from the opening statements at today's historic hearing in the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, as chaired by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and led on the Republican side by Ranking Member Devin Nunes.

The witnesses for Wednesday's hearing were two long-serving, non-partisan, career diplomats who offered detailed and often damning testimony on Trump's unprecedented withholding of military aide to Ukraine as part of a pressure campaign to force its new President to announce investigations into Trump's political rivals and into an uncorroborated theory regarding Ukraine's interference in the 2016 election. Both men also offered background on Ukraine's struggle to break away from its corrupt past with its new administration, even while the beleaguered former Soviet-bloc nation continues its long and deadly war on its eastern border against Russian-backed separatists.

Ambassador Bill Taylor, a 30-year foreign service veteran and decorated Vietnam combat soldier, currently serves as Trump's top diplomat in Ukraine. He was assigned to the post by Trump's Sec. of State Mike Pompeo after Trump's previous Ambassador, the virulently anti-corruption Marie Yovanovitch (who will testify on Friday), was pushed out of her role by what Taylor described as an "irregular" diplomatic channel consisting of several of Trump's political allies, including his attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Taylor broke the most noteworthy new piece of information of the day as he described learning, just last week, about a late night unsecured cell phone call in July by one of the "irregulars", Ambassador to EU Gordon Sondland, to the President. The call was made in a restaurant, the day after Trump's infamous July 25 call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. Taylor's staffer (who will now also testify on Friday) is said to have overheard Trump asking Sondland about the status of "the investigations" into the Bidens and the 2016 election. After the call, Taylor testified, when the staffer asked Sondland about Trump's feelings toward Ukraine, the Trump-donor-turned-diplomat said he "cares more about the investigations of Biden" than Ukraine.

Sharing the witness table with Taylor on Wednesday was George Kent, Deputy Asst. Sec. of State overseeing policy for Ukraine. Kent, who also offered damning testimony about Trump's scheme to strong-arm Ukraine, has been a part of the State Department's foreign service since 1992, having served, like Taylor, under five different U.S. Presidents --- three Republicans and two Democrats --- during his time in government service.

We're joined today for insight and analysis on all of this by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Hullabaloo and Salon, as we discuss today's breaking news of note, the damning case being laid out against the President by Democrats, the thin and disjointed rebuttal being offered by Republicans in his defense, and how all of this may be perceived by the American public as the historic hearings continue later this week, into the next one, and likely beyond...

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Conyers, Hagan, RIP; Hill resigns; Another House GOPer retires; Trump touts ISIS kill, lies about bin Laden; Former Bolton aide a no-show at impeachment; Pence ducks Ukraine questions; Senate Repubs on edge...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2019 7:03pm PT  

With the avalanche of news over the weekend and right up until airtime, we've got nothing but news on today's show. Most of it emanates out of Congress in one way or another, though we take a short side-journey to debunk a major lie over the weekend by Donald Trump. Even that, however, is ultimately about his fate in Congress as well. [Audio link to show follows below.]

Among the stories covered on today's wildly news-packed BradCast...

  • Former North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan died on Monday at age 66, after a three year battle with encephalitis. We share some thoughts on the distinguished record of public service from the state's first female Democratic Senator.;
  • Former Democratic Rep. John Conyers died at the age of 90 on Sunday. The champion for civil rights and equal justice and longtime Chair of the House Judiciary Committee served 53-years in the House, making him the longest-serving African-American in Congressional history, before abruptly resigning in 2017 in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations which he refuted. He stated during his resignation that he believed he was unlikely to receive due process during the peak of the "#MeToo" era. We share a number of his many lasting accomplishments today, including his successful 15-year fight to adopt a national Martin Luther King Day holiday, a years-long effort he began just four days after the civil rights legends' assassination. (Conyers was the only candidate for Congress ever endorsed by MLK.) We also share a number of personal reflections on our years working with Conyers and his office in various ways at The BRAD BLOG, particularly during the darkest years of the George W. Bush Administration. (As mentioned on the program, here is the kind message he sent to the blog in 2005, and here is his guest blog from later that same year.);
  • And, speaking of a lack of due process, rising-star freshman Rep. Katie Hill announced her own resignation from Congress on Sunday, less than a year after flipping the last Republican-controlled House seat in Los Angeles County in her 2018 election. The 32-year old California Democrat was granted a position on Leadership in the House and a plum position on the House Oversight Committee. However, allegations about an affair with a legislative staffer, which she denies, in violation of House rules was at the center of a complaint filed with the House Ethics Committee. The publication of illicit photographs and text messages attributed to the Congresswoman, which she charges were released by her estranged "abusive" husband, made her ability to fight the charges "untenable," according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who praised Hill. Seen as a voice for Millennial voters, Hill describes the released photos as unlawful "revenge porn," while many supporters feel she should not have stepped down;
  • On the GOP side of the aisle, the woes are far worse. Yet another senior Republican House member, Rep. Greg Walden announced on Monday that he will not seek re-election, even as the Oregon lawmaker was thought likely to be reelected to long held seat in . He is the 19th House Republicans, many of them senior members who are current and former committee chairs, to declare their intent to retire next year, all but conceding that Republicans have little or no chance of winning back the U.S. House majority in 2020;
  • On Sunday, Donald Trump announced that a targeted mission by U.S. special forces succeeded in killing long-sought ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northwestern Syria. After Trump's brief announcement, in which claimed that al-Baghdadi blew himself up with a suicide vest and "died like a dog", "crying", "whimpering" and "screaming", Trump went on to sing his own praises during an insane question and answer period with the press for a good 45 minutes. He claimed that the killing of al-Baghdadi was a much bigger deal than the killing of Osama bin Laden during the Obama Administration, and that he, unlike anybody else, had called for the killing of bin Laden long before the 9/11 terror attacks, in his book "The America We Deserve".

    Multiple fact-checks by multiple news outlets, however, detail that Trump did nothing of the kind in his book, where he barely referenced bin Laden in a single passage. He did not calling for him to be killed, though he did recognize him as "public enemy Number One," which also serves to debunk his own claim at the Sunday presser that "nobody had ever heard of Osama bin Laden" until 9/11. Trump's bizarre spectacle on Sunday, trumpeting his triumph and offering easily debunked false assertions, serves to add a question mark to his claims about al-Baghdaddi --- Russia's foreign ministry is dubious about the kill --- and otherwise serves to underscore what a horrible fact and character witness Donald Trump is for himself, given the ongoing impeachment inquiry he is now facing in the U.S. House;

  • Speaking of which, former Deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman, who worked directly under former NSA John Bolton, failed to show up for his deposition before House impeachment investigators today, after seeking a ruling from a federal judge as to whether he was legally required to comply with a House subpoena. His testimony, if and when it happens, is expected to underscore concerns that Bolton reportedly had about the quid pro quo pressure campaign Trump was running against Ukraine while withholding nearly $400 million in military assistance to the country in exchange for a promise from its President to investigate 2020 candidate Joe Biden and a rightwing conspiracy theory concerning Ukraine's involvement in the 2016 Presidential election;
  • The Ukraine scandal left Vice President Mike Pence going to extraordinary lengths to avoid answering --- four times --- a simple question on Face the Nation on Sunday as to whether or not he knew about the strong-arm scheme before Trump's infamous July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, as corroborated last week by the explosive testimony of top U.S. envoy to Ukraine Bill Taylor and, apparently, by others as well;

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U.S. bombs own base in retreat from Kurdish stronghold; Pelosi tells Trump 'all roads lead to Putin'; Elijah Cummings: Rest in Power...
By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2019 6:26pm PT  

I'm still out of breath from today's BradCast, even after I had to cut a whole bunch of breaking (and not so breaking) news to make room for the sad passing of a much-beloved Congressional giant.

We begin today with the devastating news of the untimely death of 68-year old Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the larger than life Chair of the House Oversight and Reform Committee whose extraordinary 23-year legacy in Congress and decades of civil rights work before it has left an indelible mark on the nation and our ongoing fight for democracy and equal justice for all.

Next up, as support for the impeachment and removal from office of Donald J. Trump continues to build, chaos continues to unravel in the Middle East following his recent green light for Turkey's invasion of Northern Syria. Trump's approval, given to Turkish President Erdogan on a recent phone call, stunned White House aides, the Pentagon, bi-partisan members of Congress, and our Kurdish allies in the long fight against ISIS in the region.

It also led to an incredibly bonkers threat letter sent by the U.S. President to his Turkish counterpart (which was ignored); the escape of ISIS prisoners being held by the now-endangered and fleeing Kurds; Kurdish forces choosing to ally with Russian and Iran-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as Turkish and Russian forces rolled onto bases previously occupied by the U.S. and the Kurds; the U.S. military being forced to bomb its own military outpost and ammo dump near the Turkish border; bi-partisan condemnation from Congress (including from Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a lopsided 354 to 60 resolution vote in the U.S. House against the Trump policy), Russia's emergence as the new power-broker in the Middle East, and a meeting between Democratic Congressional leaders and the President on Wednesday that ended with furious Democrats storming out after Trump reportedly insulted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a "third-rate politician" and suggesting that the Democrats were communist sympathizers in what the Speaker described as a "meltdown" after she charged that "all roads lead to Putin" with this President.

And, amidst that chaos today, after Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were dispatched to Ankara to try and clean up the mess created by Trump with Turkey, a supposed "deal" was struck for a short-term cease-fire to allow the Kurds (and U.S. troops) to retreat, while all but giving Turkey everything that it had sought on the Turkish/Syrian border for years, with the U.S. promising to lift economic sanctions against its NATO ally.

It's all even more disastrous than that, according to Trump's own former Envoy in the Fight to Defeat ISIS who calls the new U.S. policy a "disaster" and "totally incoherent", and a former FBI official who warns that Trump is "spiraling down into a dangerous posture", acting in "almost total isolation" and is now "incredibly vulnerable" to foreign manipulation. But you'll have to both tune in and buckle up for the full details. They are worse than they sound.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with coverage of the lack of climate questions raised at the recent 2020 Democratic Presidential Debate in Ohio, California's latest plans to foil Trump's fossil fuel schemes in the Golden State and much more!...

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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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Guest: Nicole Sandler...
By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2019 5:02pm PT  

Desi and I are back on today's BradCast, after an unscheduled month-long hiatus as my otherwise very healthy 80-year old dad suffered a sudden and major stroke in mid-September before ultimately passing away a few weeks later. [That's him on the left with me in the photo. Audio for today's program is posted below.]

We share a few memories of Harvey Friedman at the top of today's show (there are many more here) and a couple of very important lessons learned both before and after his death that will almost certainly be of use to you and your family! The two booklets I mentioned on air today are Five Wishes (available via AgingWithDignity.org) and the Advance Health Care Directive (available via PrepareForYourCare.org). Both are likely to be wildly helpul to your family, should you or they find themselves in a similar situation. Please consider clicking on those links when you find some time.

Then, we're joined by the great NICOLE SANDLER of The Nicole Sandler Show who filled in for us, with absolutely no notice, over the past month (with some occasional help from Angie Coiro along the way) even as she did her own show as well nearly every damned day! Desi and I cannot thank her enough. Though we try to today.

Since Nicole filled in for us during what was clearly a very very slow news month, she gets us caught up on what we missed while we were "gone", from the Impeachment process now under way in the House in response to Trump's strong-arming of the Ukrainian President for (apparently false) dirt on Joe Biden and the 2016 election; to Trump's disturbing sudden withdraw of U.S. troops in the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria (and the death and chaos and escaped ISIS detainees and new deal cut between our previously-allied and now-abandoned Kurds and the Russian-supported Syrians in its wake); to the corporate media still falling for Trump's B.S. on everything from his "new impeachment attorney", former Rep. Trey Gowdy (who doesn't appear to have been hired after all) to his new trade deal with China (which may not be a deal after all); to the latest in the 2020 race for the Democratic Presidential nomination.

After a month off the grid, we're wading gently back in today and this week with a little help from our friends. My thanks to so many of you for your kind words while we were gone, and our thanks to all of our listeners and affiliate stations for tolerating our unexpected and unprecedented absence! Hope you'll enjoy today's program as we gently get back into the swing of things...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest: Heather Digby Parton on the former Special Counsel's testimony and what's next; Also: Everyone giving everyone else the finger...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2019 5:10pm PT  

Both Democrats and Republicans alike --- on Capitol Hill and in the media --- are trying to make sense of Wednesday's landmark testimony by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and where things go from here. We do a bit of the same ourselves on today's BradCast. Though I hope we are a great deal more honest about it than Donald Trump and Fox "News", and less confusing than Fox' Ainsley Earhardt who announced this morning that Mueller's testimony "didn't change anything", before going on to tell viewers that "it changed everything". [Audio link to show our full program is posted below.]

For full coverage and extended excerpts from Mueller's nearly seven hours of hearings before the U.S. House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, see yesterday's special coverage show. For analysis and the fallout since the Republican former FBI Director confirmed the multiple and repeated felonious and impeachable crimes by the President of the United States detailed in his 448-page report [PDF], we're joined by the great HEATHER DIGBY PARTON of Salon and Hullabaloo today. As usual, we attempt to cut through the media drama and partisan positioning to get to the actual facts and important content that matters.

Among the issues discussed with Parton....

  • The fact that only Republicans are ever allowed to be Special Counsel/Prosecutors, no matter whether the President being investigated is a Democrat or a Republican;
  • Content of note from Wednesday's hearings that was both damning to Donald Trump and at risk of being lost amid frequently lousy corporate media coverage (and, wholly dishonest coverage from rightwing outlets);
  • The proper context for making "sense" of some of the conspiracies offered on Wednesday by Republicans, even as Trump's AG/fixer Bill Barr and other GOPers may have done harm lately to the prospects of their own conspiracy-based argument about the origins of what would eventually become the Mueller investigation;
  • How House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is still dropping the ball on impeachment in Congress, at least for now, and setting the country up for even more Presidential corruption in both the near and distant future in the bargain;
  • And, where all of this madness may and/or should go next.

"It seems obvious to me that we have a criminal in the White House. And an abuser, a corrupt leader, and a barbarian and an ignoramus," Parton explains, cutting to the chase. "He's an unfit President and he should be impeached. To me, this is obvious."

But, she goes on, in struggling to make sense of why impeachment proceedings have not already been triggered, "One of the reasons that the dial is not being moved is the way that the press is covering this. There was a lot of criticism, during and after the testimony, about the fact that they covered it like a sporting event. 'He didn't put on the best show', etc. etc. The theater criticism. This is a big problem because this is a complicated story. People are seeing it as a game, as this is a strategy, instead of what it really is --- which is a fundamental threat to our democracy.

"If Donald Trump gets away with this, if he gets off scot-free --- re-elected or not --- if he gets away with doing these things while in office, it has changed everything. The President is no longer accountable. If Donald Trump cannot be impeached, then nobody can be impeached. Impeachment no longer exists as a stop on a President like this. And that's very scary," warns Parton.

Also on today's BradCast: "Unprecedented" heat and wildfires in the Arctic; Ohio's "socialist" Republicans give the planet and Ohio residents the finger by going all in on Big Government bailouts of coal and nuclear power companies; U.S. automakers give Trump the finger by working out a secret deal with California to lower vehicle emissions; The Trump Administration gives humanity the finger by deciding to "Make America Kill Americans Again"; A federal judge in California gives the finger to the Administration's new, unlawful southern border asylum ban; And Kim Jong Un gives his friend Donald the finger by firing off a few ballistic missiles to celebrate Mueller's testimony.

And, finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for the latest Green News Report on some of the above, and much much more...

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

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