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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, May 22, 2022
Longtime Election Observers Barred from Wake County, NC Count, Threatened with Arrest: 'BradCast' 5/20/22
Guests: Lynn Bernstein, John Brakey; Also: GA officials debunk 2000 Mules vote fraud claims...
GOP Sen. Candidates Used 'Replacement' Rhetoric of NY White Supremacist Shooter: 'BradCast' 5/19/22
Also: Cruz TX disbarment sought for 2020 steal effort; Young voters eager for 2022; MORE...
'Green News Report' 5/19/22
  w/ Brad & Desi
New U.N. climate change warning; Fossil fuel air pollution kills 50,000 per year in U.S.; Bloomberg's new clean air initiative; PLUS: Wildfires force national forest closures...
Recent GNRs: 5/17/22 - 5/12/22 - Archives...
Did GOP Election Officials Facilitate Vote Software Theft in GA?: 'BradCast' 5/18/22
'The system has been breached' says Marilyn Marks; Also: Primary results in NC, KY, OR, ID, PA...
'Widespread' Primary Day Vote System Failures in PA Counties: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns racist lies spread 'for power, political gain and profit'...
'Green News Report' 5/17/22
U.S. wildfire risk doubling over next 30 years; Russia's energy and now food war; California hits 100% renewable electricity, as Texas struggles to keep the lights on...
'A Movement Not a Moment': Rev. Barber Says 'Consistency' Needed to Restore America: 'BradCast' 5/17/22
Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign...
Sunday 'Undesirable Outcomes' Toons
You can chalk up PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection to the rightwing radicalism still unmooring our nation from facts and reality...
Attempted Stolen Election, Stolen Docs, and Murder: 'BradCast' 5/12/22
McCarthy's J6 subpoena; Trump's new fed grand jury; Eastman advised 2020 PA election theft; Trump, meat-packers collusion; DeSantis FL gerrymander nixed...
'Green News Report' 5/12/22
Great Barrier Reef bleaching again; Global warming and new diseases; Interior cancels offshore lease sales; PLUS: AZ, CA move to enact more severe drought restrictions...
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...


Also: Biden in Buffalo condemns 'poison' of white supremacy, those who 'spread the lie' of replacement theory 'for power, political gain and profit'...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2022 6:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's primary election day in five states, with voting system problems reported in at least three counties in one of them, as the President traveled to upstate New York to condemn white supremacist "terrorism" and grieve with the community following Saturday's racist massacre at a neighborhood grocery story in a predominately black area of Buffalo. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

FIRST UP, a bit of seemingly encouraging breaking news just before airtime today from the New York Times. They report that the Dept. of Justice "has asked the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack for transcripts of interviews it is conducting behind closed doors, including some with associates of former President Donald J. Trump." The paper describes the news as "further evidence of the wide-ranging nature of the department’s criminal inquiry into the events leading up to the assault on the Capitol and the role played by Mr. Trump and his allies as they sought to" steal the 2020 election.

That sounds like encouraging news, even if the Times, for some absurd reason, describes the effort to steal the election as an attempt "to keep him in office after his defeat in the 2020 election." Normal humans would describe it simply as an attempt to steal an election. Our corporate media, and even most Democratic officials, for reasons I cannot explain, do not do so. In any event, sounds like good news no matter how stupidly the Times is reporting on it.

NEXT, it's midterm primary day in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho, North Carolina (where insurrectionist Rep. Madison Cawthorn is running for his life) and Pennsylvania (where Dems see one of their best opportunities to flip a Republican-held U.S. Senate seat.) We'll have noteworthy results on tomorrow's program, but today we focus on three counties in PA, where voters were reporting problems simply trying to cast their vote.

In Berks county "widespread" problems were reported apparently with the County's new electronic pollbooks made by ES&S, just added to polling places countywide for the first time this year. Those new computers were added to the complicated mix of high-tech equipment already forced on voters in Berks, where residents are required to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Device computers at the precinct. It was a full two and a half hours after polls opened before officials finally deployed backup paper pollbooks(!)to all locations in the county, so voters could finally vote. It's unclear whether the systems simply didn't work, or election officials didn't make sure to properly train poll workers to use them. Either way, voters couldn't vote for hours and some were undoubtedly disenfranchised entirely because emergency paper ballots were not supplied either, according to one state Rep. who said he was held up for hours (though he appears to have misreported the problem as one with voting machines, as opposed to the e-pollbooks.)

In Alleghany County (home of Pittsburgh), some precincts reportedly opened hours late, due to a mix of problems, including lack of keys to get into precincts or a lack of Election Judges in some case, thanks to COVID. At least they respect their voters enough there to allow them to vote on simple, verifiable hand-marked paper ballots (with simple paper pollbooks) ... once the polls finally opened, in any event.

In Luzerne, a Republican-leaning county with a history of voting system issues, it was reportedly the touchscreen voting machines made by Dominion that held up voters, though the Chair of the County's Board of Elections seemed happy to throw poll workers under the bus for what she described as "human error". That, instead of taking blame for forcing those over-worked, under-paid workers to use overly complicated computer systems with a lack of training, in order to eventually (maybe) allow voters to cast unverifiable ballots on touchscreen voting systems after they manage to sign in with e-pollbook computers made by ES&S.

THEN, we head to Buffalo for President Biden's remarks to victims of Saturday's mass shooting by an 18-year old white supremacist who killed 10 and wounded 3 with a Bushmaster assault rifle in a matter of minutes in a predominately African-American neighborhood. The massacre came just three days after a Trump-appointed federal appeals court judge issued a ruling overturning California's law banning semiautomatic weapons purchases for those under the age of 21, finding the law to be an unconstitutional violation of the 2nd Amendment.

In his Wednesday ruling, Judge Ryan Nelson cited "the heroism of the young adults who fought and died in our revolutionary army" in "reaffirm[ing] that our Constitution still protects the right that enabled their sacrifice: the right of young adults to keep and bear arms.” Never mind that young adults during the Revolutionary War used rifles that fired one shot at a time after being laboriously loaded through their muzzle --- as opposed to the semi-automatic Bushmaster rifle used to shoot more than a dozen, including an armed guard, in mere seconds on Saturday in Buffalo.

Biden said today that the nation must "reject the lie" of "replacement theory" spread the far-right, Fox "News" and GOP elected officials, while describing America's diversity as its strength. He derided the "hateful minority" who spread the lie "for power, political gain and for profit" --- as Fox' Tucker Carlson has done hundreds of times on his primetime show and as GOP House Leadership's Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY has recently done in her campaign ads.

"Evil will not win," the President vowed in moving and powerful remarks which we share at length. "Hate will not prevail, and white supremacy will not have the last word," Biden said, charging that "hate and fear have been given too much oxygen by those who pretend to love America."

FINALLY, Desi Doyen joins us for a few thoughts on all of the above, as well as our latest Green News Report. Among the matters she covers today: a new analysis finding wildfires are likely to double across the U.S. in the next several decades; while Russia has used energy as a weapon in its war on Ukraine, they are now threatening to cause a global food crisis as well; and while the state of California recently became powered by 100% renewable electricity for a short time, the state of Texas is, once again amid another heat wave, having trouble even keeping their lights on...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guests: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II; Kenia Alcocer of CA Poor People's Campaign; Also: The weekend's TWO mass shooting hate crimes; TWO Dems suffer strokes before Tuesday's primary elections...
By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2022 6:40pm PT  

On today's BradCast, after another brutal weekend of brutal news, we're delighted to be joined by two guests with some ideas on where to find hope and how to restore the nation's moral center --- if we can still find one. (If we ever had one.) [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up today, we're delighted to be joined by Bishop WILLIAM J. BARBER, II of Repairers of the Breach and KENIA ALCOCER of the California Poor People's Campaign. Both were kind enough to join us just an hour or so before tonight's rally and march at L.A. City Hall, being lead by both groups. It is part of their "National Call for Moral Revival" in advance of next month's "Mass Poor People's & Low-Wage Workers' Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls," on June 18th.

Sadly, we begin with Barber's response to horrific hate crime near Buffalo, New York on Saturday, where an 18-year old white supremacist, geared up with semi-automatic weaponry and body armor shot and killed 10 and wounded three others at a neighborhood supermarket. Eleven of those shot were black, as the shooter drove some 200 miles to target members of the predominately black neighborhood in upstate NY. That shooting wasn't the only hate crime mass shooting over the weekend, unfortunately.

"The question is, who radicalized them? Where do they get radicalized from?," asks Barber. (We discuss that a bit later in the show as well, see below.) "The way public policy is framed, people saying 'If you give people health care it will destroy the country. If you give people a living wage it will undermine and take things from you.' That language, 't will take things and destroy people's lives,' gives people, too often, the license to do awful, hideous, evil and deadly things."

"We must challenge it," he says. "Which is one of the reasons we are calling people for the coming together of all of us on June 18th, for love, for justice for truth, forward progress in this country to address 5 interlocking injustices: systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, denial of healthcare and the war economy, and to challenge the false moral narrative of religious nationalism and white supremacy. We must do these things united, together, and no longer separately and in individual silos."

We also discussed, with both Barber and Alcocer, the reason and hopes for tonight's rally at City Hall and the major event scheduled for next month in D.C.; the plight of poor and low-income Americans even before COVID made everything worse; why the corporate media (and both major political parties) tend to ignore the poor of all colors; whether or not protests and marches still matter; and why voting still matters despite --- or, perhaps, especially --- given all of the above.

"Everything is so interconnected that we need to fight everything today and now," Alcocer explains. "And talk about the vote in a way that's inspiring, where people turn back and say 'I vote and nothing happens.' We're voting, but we're also making the work on the ground to make sure that those votes are not the ONLY things that we're doing. We're also organizing on the ground. We're creating our own survival projects. We're coming together and fighting back for our rights."

Barber, who founded the critical Moral Mondays movement of protests and marches in North Carolina beginning in 2013 says that, yes, protests still matter. "But it's not just the march itself. It's not one day, it's a declaration. You're not going to do just one march --- you have to be consistent." He cites four years of Moral Monday in NC as helping to highlight and push back against extremism by the state's elected officials. "We are saying there must be a moral reset, there must be consistency, there must be a willingness to engage in non-violent marches but also non-violent actions, and maybe even necessary civil disobedience when that time comes."

He discusses the under estimated voting power of poor people who now make up 32% of the national electorate as "the greatest sleeping giant in this country." Barber tells me "it's not about doing one thing, it's about consistency. June 18th is a declaration, not a day. It's a movement, not a moment."

"Nothing we have ever won in this country from a progressive standpoint ever happened just because of one march or one instant. You have to stay there, and stay there, and stay there, and keep on and keep on, and break through that way. It can't be a sprint, it has to be a marathon," he adds.

Also today, some news on tomorrow's midterm primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Idaho and Pennsylvania, particularly the battle for the soon-to-be-open U.S. Senate seat in PA, where Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring. On that, there were several pieces of major news this weekend. One is that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the leading Democratic candidate for the Senate nomination, suffered a stroke on Friday. He said over the weekend, however, that he is "feeling much better," that doctors told him he "didn't suffer any cognitive damage", and that he is on his way to "a full recovery". The 52-year old Fetterman vowed: "Our campaign isn't slowing down one bit, and we are still on track to win this primary on Tuesday, and flip this Senate seat in November."

Incredibly, Fetterman wasn't the only prominent Dem to suffer what was hopefully a minor stroke this weekend. Maryland's U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen said Sunday that he has been told by doctors that there will be no long-term effects or damage from a "minor stroke" he also suffered over the weekend.

On the GOP side of the PA contest for the U.S. Senate seat, regarded as one of the Democrats' best chances to flip a Republican seat, far-right QAnon-supporting, election-denying, insurrection-attending Kathy Barnette is said to be surging and now in a statistical dead-heat with the Trump-endorsed TV doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz. So a Republican who his even Trumpier than the Trump-endorsed candidate could become the GOP nominee on Tuesday.

Finally, we spend some time on the weekend's two mass-shooting hate crimes. News broke late today here in Southern California that the suspect at the Sunday shooting at a Laguna Woods church was a 68-year old Chinese immigrant from Las Vegas who was believed to be targeting the Taiwanese immigrants meeting for Sunday services and lunch at the Geneva Presbyterian. That church has been hosting services for the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church for the past decade. One man was killed and others --- including an 86-year old woman and four men aged 66, 92, 82 and 75 --- were also wounded. But law enforcement officers says that "extraordinary heroism" by members of the congregation, who hog-tied the man with an extension chord after the pastor struck him with a chair while he was reloading one of two guns --- prevented much more carnage, with some 40 parishioners in the building at the time.

In the New York massacre, the killer was reportedly a white nationalist who had recently published a 180-page, hate-filled manifesto, frequenting citing the racist, far-right, so-called "Great Replacement" theory that, in the U.S., claims Democrats are trying to replace white American citizens with immigrants, Jews and people of color. It's the theory espoused by the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville back in 2017 who chanted "Jews will not replace us!" (Trump called them "very fine people") and by folks in Rightwing media like Tucker Carlson at Fox "News". A study by the New York Times discovered some 400 instances where Carlson has forwarded the theory.

"I know that the left and all the gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” Carlson said on his show last year, by way of just one example. "But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening, actually, let’s just say it. That’s true."

Unfortunately, it's not just Carlson. It's also elected Republican officials like Rep. Elise Stefanik of upstate NY, the third-ranking member of GOP House Leadership, who last year ran an ad campaign on Facebook espousing the same hateful conspiracy theory, charging "radical Democrats" were planning to "grant amnesty to 11 million illegal immigrants [to] overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington." Her hometown paper in Albany described the ads as "despicable"...

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Guest: Omar Ocampo of Inequality.org: Also: NE, WV primary results and who cares what they mean for Trump?; Senate abortion vote; Federal court ruling on semi-automatic weapons sales to children in CA...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2022 6:35pm PT  

Today on The BradCast: Sure, the supply chain was, and occasionally still is, a problem. So is Russia's war on Ukraine, obviously. But it's the greed of billionaires and the cowardice (or corruption) of public officials to do anything about that greed in this country that must be turned around in order to save the U.S. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first, speaking of corruption...New numbers out today from the Labor Department suggest that inflation may have peaked before April. As the Times alerted today, "Inflation moderated slightly in April, though the 8.3% annual gain in U.S. consumer prices remained uncomfortably high." As AP trumpeted in its breaking news iPhone alert: "U.S. inflation slowed slightly last month, a tentative sign that prices may be peaking while still imposing a financial strain on American households." Reuters: "U.S. consumer price growth slowed sharply to 0.3% in April, suggesting that inflation may have peaked." They were all similar....Well, except for Fox "News": "Inflation higher than expected in April, holding near 40-year high."

And you wonder why Rightwingers are so angry? It's still the Fox "News", stupid.

And speaking of stupid...Midterm primaries were held in Nebraska and West Virginia on Tuesday. (Happily, unlike in Ohio last week, we saw no reports of voting problems or voting system breakdowns, so far.) As you may have noticed, pretty much every news report about Tuesday's results focused on what they mean for Donald Trump and his party and the candidates he endorsed. The incumbent U.S. House member that Trump endorsed in WV who ran for the GOP nomination against another incumbent U.S. House member who voted for Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure bill won on Tuesday. Kingmaker Trump's power over the party is still strong! But the 8-time accused sexual harasser that Trump endorsed and stumped for in NE's GOP Gubernatorial primary lost. Trump's influence may be faltering!

As we discuss today, that framing by the corporate media --- reporting on these critical elections through the lens of Trump --- is wildly unhelpful and ill-serves the public at a time when democracy itself is on the line this November (and in 2024). It's not about Trump. He's already captured and broken the party. And that is true if he drops dead tomorrow and Ron DeSantis --- or anyone else --- takes his place. The damage is done. So, how can we fix it? Much more on that on today's show.

And speaking of failures all around... as the nation's death toll from COVID hits a staggering 1 million... The nation's corporations and rich people are doing just fine, thanks.

Big Oil continues to raise prices at the pump for consumers by pretending that its caused by post-pandemic supply chain issues and the war in Ukraine, even as they continue to rake in record profits (not revenue, but profits) in recent months. The profiteering --- under the guise of supply chain-induced "inflation" --- is also seen in other industries, of course, including the food industry, as well as the apparel business. In their latest reports on the industry profiteering, Accountable.us President Kyle Herrig appropriately derides "the industries most unapologetic about charging their customers more during a fragile economic recovery, apparently just because they can." And they can, because we let them develop monopolies and near-monopolies so there is little or no price competition left in the "free market".

And then there are the the nation's 727 billionaires whose growth in net worth over the two-plus years of the pandemic --- while you were struggling to stay employed, housed and fed --- is up $1.71 trillion from March 2020 to May 2022. That's a gain of more than the entire annual GDP of Canada for just those 727 U.S. billionaires. The biggest winner seems to have been Elon Musk, whose personal wealth was valued at just under $25 billion in March of 2020. Now, after two years of a pandemic economy, his wealth is said to be $255 billion as of the beginning of this month.

How did that happen? Why did that happen? What can and should be done about it? And does anyone in D.C. --- any one, from any party --- have the courage and ability to lead the nation to do anything about it?

All of those questions and more are answered today by our guest, OMAR OCAMPO of the Institute for Policy Studies' Program on Inequality and the Common Good, who asks today, "What about the rest of us? The median income, comparing 2020 to 2021, for your average U.S. worker has actually decreased by $2,000. And our median household wealth, comparing 2019 to 2001, has actually decreased. So yes, when you look at it by income or wealth percentile, it has been the top 10%, but especially the top 1%, that have seen impressive gains."

Ocampo helps explain how it happened, and what steps can and must be made to reverse this obscene continuing trend. Among the policy ideas discussed --- several of which have long been pushed by members of the progressive caucus in Congress --- a wealth tax on the assets of the richest Americans; partial student loan forgiveness; establishing a federal Commission on Profiteering, empowered with the ability to claw back some of what has been robbed from American consumers; strengthening organized labor and democracy itself.

And, yes, he explains, that will mean voting for more Democrats in Congress and at all levels of government. Hopefully good ones. Or this is going to continue to get much, much worse.

"The Republicans, from an ideological perspective, they are not interested in having some type of government intervention in order to solve societal problems," Ocampo charges. "They normally pivot towards philanthropy. But now is not the time to pivot to philanthropy, mainly because philanthropy does not scale, and it also denies public accountability for social problems or things that have to deal with the public good. So issues that affect the public should involve public input, and it should be carried out by democratic institutions."

"Economic inequality translates into political inequality. And the greater your material resources, the greater your access to participate in the state," he tells me. "This is very detrimental to democracy, because it makes the democratic institutions unresponsive to what the majority wants. The majority wants increased taxes on the wealthy, but it never seems to happen. That's probably because of their influence they have on both political parties."

"Elections matter, and to alleviate, especially in the short term, it would be best to elect Democrats. Because there is a section of the Democratic Party, specifically those that self-identify as progressives, who care about wealth inequality and know that it has distorting effects across our whole society."

Finally today, speaking of things getting much worse... Democrats held a show vote in the U.S. Senate to codify abortion rights (the Constitutional freedoms about to be taken away by the stolen and packed U.S. Supreme Court) after the Women's Health Protect Act was already passed by Democrats in the House. As expected, all Republicans and Joe Manchin voted against it, so the measure failed to reach the 60 votes necessary to do almost anything in the undemocratic Senate.

And, also breaking during today's program, an insane, corrupted federal appeals court in California decided that the state's law restricting the purchase of semi-automatic firearms to those 21 or older is a violation of the Constitution's 2nd Amendment. So, yup, apparently 12-year olds in CA can now buy semi-automatic weapons! Have fun, kids!

Did I mention we need more democracy and fewer corrupted federal judges? Yeah, that also comes with voting. Please get busy. Thanks...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Also: Brooklyn subway shooting; NY Lt. Gov. indicted; What you don't know about inflation; Biden taps ethanol to further lower gas prices...
By Brad Friedman on 4/12/2022 7:22pm PT  

We've got a very busy and eclectic BradCast for you today. For good or ill. You'll decide. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Another mass shooting today, this time in a crowded subway train in Brooklyn. At least 10 were shot and 17 injured. Reportedly, however, even with 5 victims said to be in critical condition, authorities say none of the injuries are life-threatening. The gunman, wearing a gasmask and releasing smoke bombs to add to the nightmarish chaos, appears to have used a semi-automatic handgun with several large magazines and was only stopped, after at least 33 shots, when one of the cartridges is believed to have jammed. The suspect was still on the run as of airtime.
  • Also in New York, recently-minted Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin was arrested and indicted on several federal felony charges related to bribery, fraud and falsification of records on Tuesday, in an alleged scheme during his time as a state Senator involving campaign payoffs from a real estate developer (who was previously arrested, but is not Donald Trump). Among the records Benjamin is said to have falsified are the vetting documents used by Gov. Kathy Hochul when selecting him for the job of Lt. Gov. after she ascended from that job in the wake of the resignation of the previous Democratic Governor, the scandal-plagued Andrew Cuomo. Benjamin resigned late today. But getting him off the June primary ballot, where he was set to run for election against two other Democrats, is a different matter.
  • You may have heard today via screaming headlines that new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on finds inflation in March was at 8.5% over the past year. It is the highest rate since December of 1981 when that failed, one-term President Ronald Reagan was in the final month of his first year in office. There's probably a bunch of other stuff you haven't heard today beyond the screaming "Inflation hits 40-year high!" headlines from our corporate media. We help you understand some of that stuff.
  • President Joe Biden's recent action to release a million barrels of oil a day, for the next six months from the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve immediately helped to lower gas prices at the pump. They've been falling pretty much every day since that unprecedented move, though they remain high thanks to Russia's war in Ukraine and the oil industry's continued profiteering. Today, in a bid to further lower gas prices, Biden announced a plan to waive the ban on summer use of E15 gasoline, which contains a 15% ethanol blend. Desi Doyen helps us make sense of that news and why it is both good and bad.
  • Last week, following a months-long investigation, Arizona's very MAGA, vote-suppressing Attorney General Mark Brnovich, finally released a report [PDF] on his probe of allegations of fraud in Maricopa County (Phoenix)'s 2020 Presidential election. That probe was requested by the very MAGA state Senate after the exceedingly MAGA Cyber Ninjas failed to find any evidence of fraud in their own months-long so-called "audit" in the state's largest county, where Joe Biden won by some 45,000 votes, delivering the state to a Democrat for the first time in decades.

    As it turns out, Brnovich failed to uncover any evidence of fraud or any other crimes, though he did pretend to find "serious vulnerabilities" in the County's elections procedures. But those "serious vulnerabilities", according to the Chair of the County's Republican Board of Supervisors, the County's Republican Controller (its chief election official, who won his position during the same 2020 election), the County's former Democratic Controller (who lost that year), and the state's Democratic Sec. of State are all calling out Brnovich for a BS report that fails to find any evidence of any problems in the election at all, even while using words that help Fox "News" and the losing former President and all his MAGA friends pretend that he did. (Brnovich is in a contested primary race for the GOP U.S. Senate nomination, after all.)

    We let you know what Brnovich actually found (and didn't), even if none of it prevented the MAGA state Senate President who helped kick off all this madness from from claiming the report finds "fraud" (it doesn't) or one of the most rightwing MAGA state Senators from taking to her Twitter account in response to the report to call it "flaccid" and to insist that "WE WANT ARRESTS NOW." --- For what exactly? That part remains unclear. It may take a few more months or years and more millions of dollars of tax-payer money spent by "conservatives" in the state to get to the bottom of it.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen brings our latest Green News Report with some troubling new news on methane and climate change, as well as microplastics now being found in human blood and lungs. But she's got some better news on new mileage standards from Biden's Dept. of Transportation and on the electrification of tens of thousands of government vehicles and school buses in Los Angeles and Boston...

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Guests: Susan Greenhalgh of Free Speech for People; Ian Patton of Long Beach Reform Coalition; Also: Atrocities in Ukraine, in the U.S. and why protecting democracy remains more important than ever...
By Brad Friedman on 4/4/2022 6:59pm PT  

We all woke up to atrocities on Sunday. In Ukraine and in Sacramento, California. Russian war crimes in Europe and another mass shooting in the U.S. On today's BradCast, we detail the atrocities in both places before turning to the fight for the only thing that still has a chance of stopping them: democracy. But we can't have democracy without voting systems the public can oversee, and that remains a huge problem, even in our own home county of Los Angeles. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

First up, some of the newly revealed, gruesome details and evidence of war crimes allegedly committed by fleeing Russian troops against Ukrainian civilians in newly liberated towns, villages and suburbs outside of Kyiv. Despite being witnessed by independent journalists and catalogued by outside watchdogs like Human Rights Watch, which describes some of the crimes as "unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian citizens," including "rape, murder, and other violent acts," the Russian Government contends the charges are "fake" and little more than "stage-managed anti-Russian provocation." In response on Monday, President Biden reiterated his belief that Vladimir Putin is a "war criminal."

The gruesome body count in the U.S. also continued to mount over the weekend, as another mass shooting, this time in downtown Sacramento, left six dead and more than a dozen injured after "at least fifty rounds" were "fired right into the crowd" with high-powered weaponry during bustling Saturday night revelry, according to an eyewitness. That, just one day after Georgia's legislature passed a new law allowing concealed weapons to be carried pretty much anywhere without the need for a license. They are the 23rd state to do so. Our gun violence epidemic is getting worse, not better, as Republicans refuse to allow any action that might lessen America's shamefully continuing scourge.

But tyranny is not going to defeat itself. Not in Ukraine. Not in the U.S. To that end, we remain vigilant in our efforts to help the public try and oversee this year's critical mid-term elections. Unfortunately, problems with our un-overseeable and unverifiable voting systems continue into yet another election year in so-called "red" and "blue" states alike. While the GOP is actively undermining democracy with new voter suppression laws in "red" states, vulnerable electronic voting and tabulation systems remain a huge problem across the nation.

Back in 2020, Los Angeles County deployed a new, unverifiable touchscreen voting system called "Voting Solutions for All People" (or, VSAP) across the nation's most populous voting jurisdiction. Some ten years in development by the County's Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan, the new touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) failed spectacularly in that year's Super Tuesday Presidential Primary, leading to long lines and questions about the results. The VSAP system had been conditionally certified by the Secretary of State just weeks before their first county-wide use, after state testing discovered about 30 different violations of California Voting System Standards.

The County was required to correct the violations detailed in the Conditional Certification in the months following the election, though they failed to do so in many cases --- for years. Now, the County is seeking state certification of VSAP v3.0 but, according to our guests today, has still failed to correct a number of critical security issues that failed more than two years ago.

We're joined today to discuss these concerns in advance of California's June 7th mid-term primary elections by SUSAN GREENHALGH, Senior Advisor on Election Security at the non-profit Free Speech for People and by IAN PATTON of the Long Beach Reform Coalition (he is also now running for the Long Beach City Council). Both recently wrote a letter [PDF] to California Sec. of State Dr. Shirley Weber, detailing uncorrected security issues in the VSAP system and urging her to force L.A. County to fix them before issuing certification to the newly updated voting and counting system yet again.

We invited L.A. County's Registrar Dean Logan --- the VSAP system is his brainchild --- to join us as well, after his office recently described Greenhalgh's public testimony on her concerns about certification for VSAP 3.0 as "mis- and disinformation". In declining to join us today, Logan once again accused Greenhalgh and Patton of "mis-stating facts" and took a swipe at the election integrity advocates by smearing them as if they were part of Donald Trump's mob of conspiracists offering evidence-free claims of fraud since his loss in 2020. Logan charged the documented concerns detailed in Greenhalgh and Patton's memo to the Secretary "contributes to further the false narrative about elections integrity and transparency that is pervading the country."

For her part, Greenhalgh has been an expert in elections security, integrity and transparency for decades. Patton had represented the Long Beach Reform Coalition in a lawsuit against the VSAP systems long before Trump's 2020 sore loser act, when a ballot initiative in Long Beach failed by just 16 votes. After the Coalition raised tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a recount of that initiative, they were informed by Logan that the price would, in fact, be hundreds of thousands of dollars instead-- to count just a few thousand votes. The reason, as we reported at the time, is that the new VSAP system is deployed at Voting Centers across the County, which have replaced community precincts. That means that Long Beach voters may vote at any Voting Center in the County, where more than 4 million cast ballots in 2020. Logan attempted to charge the Coalition for the hours and hours it would have taken the county to cull through some 4 million ballots (computer-marked by VSAP and hand-marked by mail voters) in order to find the ones cast by Long Beach voters at any of the hundreds of Voting Centers in the County. Of course, this is just another problem with the Voting Center model, particularly in large counties like L.A. The ballot initiative that is said to have passed by 16 votes never did receive a hand recount to make sure the results were accurate.

Greenhalgh details the security vulnerabilities that remain in the VSAP system, despite state requirements that they be corrected by last year. She was also surprised to hear that Logan claimed in his email to us that "the VSAP 3.0 upgrade is over and it has been approved by the Secretary of State."

"I'm disappointed that the Secretary is not taking further action to enforce these requirements, to really require LA County to meet them," she tells us. "Also it hasn't been updated on the website, that it's already been approved. That's not public information yet." We'll just take Logan's word for it, I guess.

For his part, Patton explains the aborted recount effort in Long Beach ("I'm not a conspiracy theorist in any way," he notes. "We have never alleged a rigged election. We were just talking about the facts. The facts are this was an extremely close election, and we were just not allowed to have a hand count."); the fact that L.A.'s $300 million voting system was promised to be the nation's first open source system (but has yet to disclose any of its source code); and whether he feels confident that his election for City Council this year will be accurately tallied under the still-unverifiable and virtually unrecountable new systems.

"We can speak very factually and say that vulnerabilities don't equate to a stolen election," Greenhalgh asserts, before describing Logan's smears as "extremely disheartening." She described the comments as "a new low to hear somebody try to smear and tar real serious questions, real serious issues that need to be addressed. We still have serious security issues in our election systems that need to be fixed. We all need to pull together to fix them. And if we are having election officials refuse to address those problems by dismissing them improperly as mis- and dis-information, there's two problems with that: We're not going to actually fix the problems, but also we have a crisis of confidence in our election system right now. And when somebody in a position of power says something that is pretty easily proven to be false....they're not going to have a lot of confidence in his ability to run an election. And we can't afford that. He needs to be honest."

Logan never did cite any specific claims from Greenhalgh and Patton's concerns that he believed to be misinformation, despite my repeated query. He has a standing invitation to join us on the show any time to do so. Hiding behind false claims by rightwingers of "stolen elections" is unbecoming of a public official, particularly when the very specific concerns in question are legitimate and publicly well-documented.

There is much more discussed about all of this on today's show, and the concerns about similarly unverifiable touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices now in use across the country, along with the similarly problematic Voting Center model replacing community precincts in other counties and states.

California's primary this year is on June 7th. Cross your fingers that things work out. Good luck even being able to figure out afterward is they did or didn't...

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Guest: The American Prospect's David Dayen on the magazine's ambitious Special Issue: Also: Gun-maker settles with Sandy Hook families; Prince Andrew settles sex-abuse case; Palin loses (again); Putin blinks?...
By Brad Friedman on 2/15/2022 6:05pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we tackle another small, totally easy to solve issue: Untangling the worldwide supply chain debacle. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

But, before that, at least a few stories seem to be resolving themselves today...

  • Nine families of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre settled their lawsuit with Remington, the manufacturer and marketer of the semi-automatic rifle used to kill their family members, for $73 million. The deal is noteworthy because federal law bans such suits against the gun industry, but Connecticut law does not. In this case, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Remington's attempt to block the suit based on the protections in federal law.
  • Prince Andrew settled a lawsuit filed against him by a woman who says she was 17-years old when she was sexually abused by Andrew, as coerced by the late financier and child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. The settlement includes an undisclosed donation to the charity of the victim, Virginia Giuffre, and an acknowledgement by Andrew that she has suffered abuse as a victim It is unknown if Giuffre will personally receive any money as part of the agreement.
  • Both a jury and a judge helped settle former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times by rejecting it in no uncertain terms. On Tuesday, the jury in the civil trial brought by Palin found the Times' editorial board not guilty of libeling the former GOP Vice Presidential nominee. The paper had erroneously cited a "clear link" between a map published by a Palin campaign websites featuring a gun site on certain Congressional districts --- including then Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords' --- and the 2013 mass shooting in Tuscon that killed six people and critically injured the Congresswoman. The jury's rejection of Palin's suit came the day after the judge, as the jury was still deliberating, declared that he planned to dismiss the case anyway after finding that Palin failed to prove the paper acted maliciously against her. For its part, the Times described the verdict as "reaffirmation of a fundamental tenet of American law: public figures should not be permitted to use libel suits to punish or intimidate news organizations that make, acknowledge and swiftly correct unintentional errors."
  • And, in the weeks-long Russian/Ukraine military stand-off, there was a long-awaited easing of tensions as President Putin announced that Russia was ready for talks with the U.S. and NATO on a number of issues and that some Russian forces on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawing. President Biden, however, in remarks this afternoon at the White House, said the U.S. had "not yet verified" any troop withdraws and that a Russian invasion of Ukraine remained a possibility. The White House noted, however, that the U.S. remains opens to high-level diplomacy in hopes of avoiding military conflict in Europe.

On that news, Wall Street rallied after weeks of saber-rattling had weighed down the market and helped send oil and gas prices through the roof, serving as another reminder today of just one more way that our vulnerable supply chain can wreak havoc on an otherwise booming economy.

As it turns out, The American Prospect recently devoted an entire Special Issue for February to a very related topic: "The Supply Chain Debacle: How bad policy—outsourcing, financialization, monopolization, deregulation, and just-in-time logistics—broke our supply chains, raised costs and caused shortages."

We're joined today by The Prospect's Executive Editor and author David Dayen to help us untangle the mess that has been made over the past 40 or 50 years, under both political parties in this rare case, of a supply chain that has exposed its vulnerabilities with the onset of the COVID pandemic two years ago. But since then, it has continued to reveal its ill-designed brittleness and the very serious threat it poses to America's economic security.

Dayen walks us through how his Special Issue delves into the broad failures of the supply chain, largely put in place over the years by the Wall Street "free market" to maximize corporate profit at the expense of American jobs and national security...in exchange for cheap prices on goods! As Dayen details, the problems here are not one single failure across the chain, but as he breaks down, "multiple 'single points of failure'" across industry after industry all along the broken chain.

"We designed a system over the course of decades --- both parties --- that had lean inventories, that relied on offshore production, that relied on this concept of globalization," he explains. "That allowed the production facilities to become very concentrated. That allowed the spokes within the system to become concentrated. That deregulated everything to try to lower prices on shipping and transportation. And that allowed Wall Street to take the primary role in governing these efforts --- in other words, telling corporations 'Yes, you have to move your production offshore for cheap labor', and 'We have to deregulate these industries so that costs stay low,' and 'You have to have just-in-time production so that you don't have any inventory sitting around just wasting money, and we're spending too much money on warehouses.'"

With this precarious, profit-driven system in place, Dayen steps through The Prospect's full team coverage of how a virus breaking out in a manufacturing hub in China can shut down the entire system. Any sudden increase in a demand for goods --- say, during a pandemic --- ends up tying the giant, oligopolized over-seas container shipping system into knots and stranding massive cargo ships at sea while there is no room left for off-loading at U.S. ports. Once finally off-loaded, sometimes after months waiting in line off-shore, a U.S. rail system run by just a couple of companies and a trucking system that doesn't pay workers nearly enough for their efforts further bottlenecks the process. Then there's the vast lack of warehouse space for all those goods if they can ever get to where they need to be. All the while, these disruptions and failures work to the benefit of the largest distributors --- like Amazon and Walmart --- while cutting the knees out from under independent retailers and raising prices for everyone. So much for those low prices that consumers, at least, were supposed to get out of the deal.

But, as Dayen also explains, it doesn't take a pandemic. A cross-border bridge protest in Canada, saber-rattling in Eastern Europe or the Middle East and, perhaps even more crippling to the supply chain over the past year than anything else, climate change related disasters which promise to only get much more frequent and severe in the years ahead.

"The problem is the supply chain is run on these knife-edge principles that make it impossible for it to adjust to a shift up in demand. That is the entire problem," he argues. "So people who go on and say, 'No, this isn't a problem, it's just this shift. Everything will be fine.' They're missing the point. The point is that this lack of adjustment reflects problems with how the system is engineered."

And, yes, Dayen has advice on how to re-engineer the entire system. The good news, he also explains, is that both corporations and members of Congress --- from BOTH parties --- seem to finally be getting it. They are looking at and passing bills that encourage (and spend money on) the regionalization and onshoring of manufacturing back here in the U.S., and the Biden administration is investing heavily --- when Congress allows them --- into a number of long-overdue fixes.

It may all sound dry on paper, but it's actually a fascinating and very lively conversation on today's program that I hope you'll tune in for.

Finally --- and including a few related points --- Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, on the crippling Western U.S. megadrought; the Biden Administration's roll-out of a national EV charging network; the spike in oil prices amid tensions in Russia-Ukraine; and the Super Bowl blitz by U.S. carmakers launching long overdue electric vehicle production lines...

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Also: 'A lot of people are about to get sick' due to 'explosive' Omicron...
By Brad Friedman on 12/16/2021 6:30pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we cover both COVID and SCOTUS and how to try and stay safe from and/or fight back against the very serious threats now posed by both of these hideous, rogue, all-caps acronyms. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

First up, it's COVID. Specifically, the Omicron variant, as the CDC finds that, according to their latest data, unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die and 11 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated. Those numbers seem to refer to those vaccinated by two mRNA shots without a booster shot, which is now key to fighting the quickly rising threat of Omicron.

As Josh Marshall bluntly warns in one of his chilling recent updates on newly emerging data on the new, highly transmissible variant --- which still include a number of unknowns --- "A lot of people are about to get sick."

New studies just coming in from around the world suggest that Omicron is incredibly aggressive, even for those with some immunity from two vaccine shots or previous infection. A booster shot, the studies are finding, help tremendously to ward off both the likelihood of infection, as well as the worst symptoms. Two doses and a booster will roughly offer the same protection against Omicron as two shots alone did against Delta. Marshall reports the data show "late December through January will be explosive in terms of numbers of infections" in the U.S. He repeated a similar warning based on newer incoming data on Omicron last night: "The rate of growth is simply explosive. There’s no other way to put it...we should expect a very, very large wave of infections in the coming weeks...The pace and scope of the surge looks likely to be something like the original one in the Spring of 2020."

Too many people, I believe, have been placating themselves on the somewhat misleading data point suggesting Omicron infection appears to be less severe than previous variants. There are a number of reasons that it could be (including the fact that many now have at least some immunity due to vaccination or antibodies from a previous infection), but the severity level misses the point of the somewhat terrifying transmissibility numbers emerging right now and how that is likely to overwhelm health systems in this country and result in a lot of people dying. A more mild disease that infects 5 times more people is equally or potentially even more deadly.

The current surge under way in the U.S. is still almost entirely comprised of Delta cases. Once Omicron --- which is really good at breaking through immunity created by both infection antibodies and vaccines --- begins to rise over the next 2 to 4 weeks, things could get really bad on several levels. We are already seeing deaths spike again to more than 1,700 a day in the U.S., and that's almost entirely from Delta.

Bottom line: Get boosted. "It's not a marginal difference" from two shots, Marshall advises, based on a very close reading of emerging data and discussion with experts, "It's a big one." He goes on to write: "I would also seriously consider limiting obvious vectors of exposure: indoor activities in large groups, eating indoors, large crowds indoors or out. We all have our own levels of risk aversion and we can’t hide forever. But you should assume that your risk of being exposed to COVID is about to go up a lot. So plan accordingly.

Of course, he's hardly the only one sending this similar message. "All the models right now are flashing bright red," warns New York "Intelligencer" science writer David Wallace-Wells in one of his latest pieces headlined "Omicron is About to Overwhelm Us: The new COVID variant has all the makings of a mass wave." Pay attention please. Get boosted.

Next up, it's SCOTUS. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) penned a blistering --- if absolutely correct on every key point --- op-ed at Boston Globe yesterday, calling for the expansion of the Republicans "packed" and "stolen" and "corrupt" Supreme Court. The call comes not a moment too soon (and, perhaps a year or so too late). Still, it's good to hear elected officials speak as directly about the threat now posed by this corrupted, partisan Court to "basis principles of law" which now "threaten the democratic foundations of our nation."

We share most of her piece on air today. But if you don't listen to the show, read her must-read piece. She breaks down precisely how Mitch McConnell's hypocritical "Republican court-packing has undermined the legitimacy of every action the current court takes" as its illegitimate 6 to 3 rightwing "supermajority will continue to threaten basic liberties for decades to come." Democrats, she advises, must exercise their Constitutional Article III, Section 1 authority to change the size of the Court, as Congress has done at least seven times before. That number doesn't even include what happened after McConnell, corruptly "reduced the size of the court for over a year solely for ... partisan gain and then turned around and jammed through another nominee days before losing the presidency."

But, as welcome as op-eds are, action is better. So we were delighted when, immediately after the Supremes last week once again allowed Texas' clearly unconstitutional six-week abortion ban law to stay in place, the Governor of California announced plans for actual action to push back. If its now judicially acceptable to write laws that both undermine Constitutional rights and evade judicial review by allowing private citizens to enforce it, as the Texas law does, the same can be done with other rights.

On Saturday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared his intention to "work with the Legislature and the Attorney General on a bill that would create a right of action allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief, and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus costs and attorney’s fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes, or sells an assault weapon or ghost gun kit or parts in the State of California."

"If states can now shield their laws from review by the federal courts that compare assault weapons to Swiss Army knives, then California will use that authority to protect people’s lives, where Texas used it to put women in harm’s way," the Governor noted in his brief statement. "If the most efficient way to keep these devastating weapons off our streets is to add the threat of private lawsuits, we should do just that."

He seems quite serious. And so does New York Attorney General Leticia James who, when asked about whether her state might take similar actions to Newsom's this week on ABC's The View, cited the outrageous immunity against prosecution that gun manufacturer's have been afforded by federal statute to say: "Yes! When I heard about that, I said to my team, we need to follow his lead."

Good. It's remarkable that the extremist radical rightwingers on the High Court either didn't see this coming, or didn't care. Of course, if the Supremes are cool with the Texas law as written, what is to stop any state from allowing "lawful" private, vigilante law suits against people who are simply exercising their First Amendment rights by, say, wearing a MAGA hat or being members of the Republican Party? In truth, nothing stops that at all, which is why Sen. Warren's op-ed is so on point.

Finally, as if those threats are aren't enough, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, with more threats to our climate than the Supreme Court should allow us to fit into six minutes...

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Guest: Activist, author Kenny Bruno on 'DEFCON for Democracy'; Also: Fourth student dies after MI high school gun massacre...
By Brad Friedman on 12/1/2021 5:51pm PT  

On today's BradCast: It's a grim day in America. But it's one that every American should be paying very close attention to nonetheless. [Audio link to full show posted at the end of this summary.]

First up today, a fourth student, a 17-year old, has died following Tuesday's mass shooting by a 15-year old at Oxford High School in Michigan. The other three victims who were killed, as well as seven other students who remained in the hospital overnight after being shot, were all aged 14 to 17. The shooter used his father's new semi-automatic pistol purchased just last Friday to carry out the massacre. There were still seven more bullets in the weapon when he surrendered to authorities. But, that's "freedom" for ya in 2021 America, apparently.

On Wednesday morning, the Republicans' stolen and packed 6 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court majority met to consider removing the previously long-settled freedom for a woman to determine her own reproductive rights in all 50 states. The case heard at SCOTUS was Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last remaining abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi, where legislators have adopted a law that would ban all abortions in the state after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The measure was overturned in lower courts after being found a clear violation of the nearly 50-year old Roe v. Wade precedent set in 1973 and reaffirmed as settled law in 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

When MS filed their initial appeal at the Supreme Court they sought approval for their then-radical 15-week ban. It was only after last year's death of abortion rights champion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and her subsequent replacement on the Court by the far-right Amy Coney Barret just eight days before the 2020 Presidential election, that the state decided to also ask the court to strike down Roe in its entirety.

Little, if anything, has changed legally since 1992 regarding the reproductive rights Constitutionally guaranteed by Roe and reaffirmed by Casey. But the make-up of the High Court itself has changed radically. Its majority has been stolen by Republicans who cancelled the filibuster in the Senate in order to pack three, hard-right Donald Trump appointees onto it. That fact, made clear by MS legislators themselves, led Justice Sonia Sotomayor to aptly ask the state's Republican Attorney General today: "Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the Constitution and its reading are just political acts?"

Good question. Of course, the answer is that those on the political Right don't actually care. As the twice federally indicted Steve Bannon recently noted on his War Room radio show/podcast, Republicans are only interested in "taking over" --- from school boards to the White House --- and whether or not their hardball methods result in "a Constitutional crisis," they really don't care. "We're a big and tough country and we can handle that," he preached to his followers.

To that end, Republican officials across the country are, right now, hoping to break American democracy itself, by installing loyalist Trump party apparatchik in key election administration positions, from precinct judges to county clerks to canvassing boards to Secretaries of State, as Washington Post reported in great detail on Monday. The Plot to Steal the 2024 Election is underway RIGHT NOW. Ignore these warnings at all of our peril.

We're joined today by longtime progressive activist and author KENNY BRUNO who offered a similarly chilling --- and even more direct --- warning at Truthout over the weekend, spelling out how Trump and the GOP have already "laid the groundwork for assuming the U.S. presidency regardless of the result of the 2024 election." He details today how "most of the conditions they would need to execute [their plan] is already in place."

"Often you see it covered, or you see various aspects covered, as if they were disparate things," Bruno explains, "like the treatment of Liz Cheney, the sham audit in Arizona, the repetition of the Big Lie, the new voter suppression laws in 19 states --- covered as if they are disparate things. But the simplest explanation is that they are all part of a plan," he charges, before spelling out exactly how that plan is meant to work between now and the certification of state electors on January 6, 2025.

To "undermine faith in elections" in order to steal a Presidential election, Bruno argues, "you would want radical state legislatures, especially in swing states. You would want a majority of states with a majority of loyal members of Congress. You would want to purge moderate representatives and election officials who might not go along with ending democracy, who might not play ball. You'd want a compliant Supreme Court. You'd want to intimidate the election officials who are left. I could go on...These are things that you need in place. If you look now at Trump and the GOP, most of those boxes are already checked. And they're part of a comprehensive plan."

What --- if anything --- can be done about it? Well, the options in response, as also spelled out by Bruno in his op-ed and on today's program, are not great. But knowing and understanding what is going on is a critical first step. While we have been warning and reporting on this stuff seemingly forever (for example, while the actual attempt to steal the 2020 election was underway in advance of the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol), it seems the warnings are not being adequately amplified by either corporate media or Democrats, as Bruno sees it.

He goes on to note that his originally suggested title for his Truthout piece was "DEFCON for Democracy," before the headline was somewhat softened by editors. "I think if you understand the threat to be that severe, then you have to take drastic action. Unless you're talking about it, and preparing people for drastic action, they're not going to understand why it's justified," cautions Bruno. "This is a real threat, it's a real plan. The evidence is that it's being carried out. And if you want to stop it, you might have to take some drastic action."

"I would love to be wrong about the whole thing, to be honest," he concedes. "I think the most important thing at the moment is to talk about it, to call it out. Because if you don't socialize people to the idea that this steal, subversion, gaming of the Electoral College is underway, they won't be ready to accept your actions to defend it."

As noted, it's a grim day and a grim show today, but one that we hope will be well worth your time to listen in full...

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Guest: Nicolás Rivero of Quartz; Also: House finally passes Biden BBB agenda, hard part waits in Senate; VA school board unbans books; Fight for majority control of VA House of Delegates not over yet...
By Brad Friedman on 11/19/2021 7:00pm PT  

Apparently it's another myth busting episode of The BradCast today. It would be nice if lousy reporting from the corporate media --- particularly regarding the economy --- didn't make these so frequently necessary of late. [Audio link to full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up today, a few other stories of note today...

  • The 17-year old white kid who crossed a state border into Kenosha, Wisconsin to unlawfully wield a semi-automatic weapon before using it to shoot three anti-racism protesters, killing two of them, was acquitted of all charges today. So, we guess it's now open season to shoot anyone ya like, as long as you claim it was done in self-defense. And, yes, as long as you're white.
  • Democrats in the U.S. House finally came together today to pass the Build Back Better Act, President Biden's nearly $2 trillion landmark spending bill to expand healthcare, childcare, education, eldercare and much MUCH more, including the most substantive action to combat the global climate crisis in the history of the nation. Every Republican in the chamber voted against it. The transformative legislation includes scores and scores of long-overdue provisions that, if virtually any one of them were passed on their own as a standalone bill, it would be, to paraphrase the President, a BFD. But, of course, while getting it through the House took months, that was the easy part. Now, the crowning achievement of Biden's agenda will have to get through the U.S. Senate, where, without any Republican votes, all 50 Senators who caucus with the Democrats will have to sign off on in order to pass it under Senate budget reconciliation rules. That means obstructionist Democrats like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema may feel free to water it down further than they already have, or kill it all together. We'll find out what happens when the upper chamber picks up the measure, after the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • A few days ago, we reported on the Spotsylvania County, Virginia School Board's 6 to 0 vote last week to begin removing certain books from their school's libraries after a debate about whether they should ban the books or both ban and burn them. It was one of several stories we highlighted to underscore the unmistakable drumbeat of rising authoritarianism in our country right now. But, at least on that story, there is some good news this week. Democracy struck back! After 4 and a half hours of public comment at the Board's subsequent meeting this week, cut off only because it was midnight, the Board voted to reverse it's ban! Though the Board's two book burning proponents stood their ground, they lost in a 5 to 2 vote. All thanks to excellent local media reporting and a huge turnout from teachers, librarians, parents and teachers who spoke passionately in favor of libraries and books while calling for the book burners to resign.
  • Following up on another story we covered earlier this week, on the media's horrifically misleading reporting on inflation, we share part of a Paul Waldman excellent column from WaPo that sounds as if it could have been ripped straight from The BradCast's coverage that day, myth busting the very same issues that we did.
  • Then, picking up on a related-ish myth that needs busting as well this week, we're joined by NICOLÁS RIVERO of Quartz, to discuss his recent myth-busting, deep-dive reporting on our current, pre-Christmas, "post-pandemic" supply chain issues and why, despite no shortage of bad reporting on this, a shortage of truck drivers is not actually to blame.

    In fact, the industry has been claiming virtually every year since 2005 (and, really, going back to the late 1980s as Rivero documents), that they have a shortage of drivers. Last month, the American Trucking Associations announced a shortage of 80,000 drivers, declaring it "an all-time high for the industry." That, despite the fact that states issue more than 450,000 new commercial driver's licenses every year. Something doesn't add up here. At the same time, as Rivero tells me today, "between 1995 and 2017, the turnover rate at big trucking companies averaged 94%," according to the industry's own data. "That means that every year, they are refilling the equivalent of virtually every driving position, because people are quitting and leaving."

    "The real shortage," he explains, is not of truckers, but "of good trucking jobs that can attract and retain workers in a tight labor market." So, why isn't supply keeping up with demand in that supposedly free market? Rivero discusses the industry's "race to the bottom," leading drivers to take equal or better paying jobs elsewhere that don't come with all of the burdens --- especially for long-haulers --- the industry now forces onto their drivers.

    We also discuss the trucker's unions' part in all of this, and how --- and if --- Biden's new infrastructure bill might actually improve the situation, for drivers, for the industry and, yes, for our "post-pandemic" supply chain woes.

  • Finally, in our closing few minutes (before standing down to hit the road ourselves for the holiday next week!), the fight for control of the Virginia House of Delegates may not be as over as it appeared almost three weeks ago, when Republicans were declared by media to have taken the majority back from the Democrats during the off-year elections. A very close race in one district and a tallying error in another very close race (leading the Dem who currently holds that seat to withdraw her concession), has now resulted in two upcoming recounts. Republicans will control 50 seats in the 100-seat chamber. The question is now whether the GOP will control the chamber outright or --- long shot as it may be --- if both races flip to the Democrats resulting in a 50-50 power sharing agreement. Luckily, the commonwealth recently moved from 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems to hand-marked paper ballots. So a fair, overseeable count of voter intent is now possible in the state where Republican Glenn Youngkin was declared the winner in the Gubernatorial race and Republicans swept the other two statewide races on November 2nd for Lt. Governor and Attorney General.

We'll be watching over the holidays, even as 'The BradCast' and 'GNR' stand down next week for a much needed recharge of batteries and some long-overdue family time. We'll see ya after the holiday! Desi and I both hope it will be a healthy and happy one for all!...

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Bannon turns himself in; U.N. Climate Summit concludes with noteworthy agreement; Biden signs landmark, $1.2T roads, bridges, environment bill...
By Brad Friedman on 11/15/2021 6:16pm PT  

On today's BradCast, we try and wrestle the Monday blizzard of incoming news to the ground --- some of which suggest that maybe we're getting somewhere. Finally. Maybe. A little. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

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

  • Steve Bannon turns himself in to federal prosecutors to face two charges of criminal Contempt of Congress, each of which could earn him as much as a year in prison. But the message sent with his indictment by Attorney General Merrick Garland to the other three dozen or so Trumpers who have also been subpoenaed by the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attempt to steal the 2020 election, is the most important point here. Donald Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows may face similar charges after defying his own subpoena on Friday. Trump himself could also still be subpoenaed by the tenacious, bipartisan House Committee.
  • It took an extra day or so, but the nearly 200 nations that gathered for the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland over the past two weeks finally reached an agreement [PDF] that all parties could sign onto over the weekend. For the first time, this year's agreement --- while not nearly enough to take on the worsening threat of our climate emergency --- finally calls for the "phase down" of coal and other fossil fuels. Incredibly, until this year, neither the words "coal" or "fossil fuels" have appeared in any of the previous 25 agreements signed by the parties over the years. And even "phase down" was a last minute change demanded by India and China from "phase out". Desi Doyen explains that and much more, including the continuing problem of securing commitments from developed countries who caused the problem to cover the enormous costs of developing countries who didn't, even as many of them are paying the greatest immediate and long term price for our climate catastrophe.
  • Beto is in. Former Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke declares his intention to run for Governor next year against Texas' far-right incumbent Republican Greg Abbott.
  • Leahy is out. The 8-term Democratic U.S. Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, currently the longest servicing member of the upper chamber, announces he will not seek a ninth term.
  • The fate of Kyle Rittenhouse is now in the hands of the jury. The 17-year old counter-protester used a semi-automatic rifle to shoot three demonstrators, killing two of them, in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year after the police killing of George Floyd. Before handing the case to jurors, the judge --- whose bizarre behavior throughout the televised trial suggested he's in the bag for Rittenhouse --- dropped a less significant charge of being a minor in possession of a firearm.
  • Far-right propagandist and conspiracy theory profiteer Alex Jones and his Infowars media outlet were found guilty by default in the latest defamation case against him in Connecticut. The suit was brought by families of eight people killed in the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown. Jones declared the massacre to be a "giant hoax" by the federal government. It's the fourth Sandy Hook case in which Jones has been found guilty of defamation. The first three were in Texas, where Jones' media empire is based. Juries in each state will decide how much Jones must pay in damage and court costs to the families next year.
  • The biggest political news of the day was the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill finally signed into law on Monday by President Biden in a ceremony on the White House lawn. It is the latest component of his sweeping "Build Back Better" agenda following the devastation of COVID, Donald Trump and, in this case, decades of failure to invest in rebuilding and shoring up the nation's crumbling infrastructure. We explain what's in the landmark bill, including the largest single investment in roads and bridges since the Eisenhower era. There are also a number of key environment and climate related elements in the bill, for replacement of toxic lead water pipes, hardening and expansion of the nation's power grid, investment in electric vehicle charging stations and zero- and low-emission public transit and consumer vehicles. The Administration vows the measure will create millions of jobs over the next five years. And while infrastructure has traditionally been one area on which both Republicans and Democrats tend to find common ground, the post-Trump Republican party has described the bill as a "communist takeover" of the country, and has turned on Republicans in both the House and Senate who voted for passage. That has resulted in death threats for a number of the GOPers in the House who voted for the bipartisan measure supported by such noted "communists" in the Senate as Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.
  • And yes, we take a few calls from listeners on all of the above throughout today's program...

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Guest: ACLU policing expert Carl Takei; Also: Sinema tanking Dems' Build Back Better agenda; Trumpworld circulates fake AZ 'audit' report...
By Brad Friedman on 9/29/2021 6:38pm PT  

On today's BradCast: MAGA dead-enders have found a way to continuing pretending the 2020 election was stolen from them in Arizona; it's now down to pretty much one Democrat in Congress who seems willing to take down Joe Biden and the Democratic party's entire agenda; and the lazy corporate media fall for another phony narrative, fed to them by police, to explain 2020's spike in killings across the country. Just another day making sense of the absurd. It's what we do.

First up, despite last week's hilariously embarrassing news for Donald Trump that his own Republican partisans hired by the Republican state Senate in Arizona to "audit" last year's election found that, yup, Trump lost to Biden as originally certified (and by an even larger margin), the disgraced former President is still lying to his supporters, claiming the audit found that he won. It didn't. But, at the same time, his supporters --- including perhaps the top wingnut website responsible for false reports of "fraud" in the 2020 election, Jim Hoft's Gateway Pundit --- are now circulating a phony "draft" of the Cyber Ninja's audit report. The fake report is being characterized as the "real" report by Hoft and friends. One of them, Matthew DePerno, a candidate for Michigan Attorney General(!) who Trump recently endorsed, posted it to Twitter claiming it was the "real " report from the Ninjas that RINOs in the GOP state Senate tried to "censure" [sic].

The fraudulent "draft" claims that the 2020 election in AZ "should not be certified," even though it already was, ten months ago, by the state's Republican Governor. A Ninjas spokesperson denies having anything to do with it, claims the very real looking "draft report" is "absolutely false", and "that it was not written by Cyber Ninjas CEO Doug Logan, nor was [the call for decertification] in any version that was ever sent or shown to the [state] Senate for review."

Thankfully, Hoft, often referred to as the dumbest man on the Internet, isn't buying it! He and his site are furious that the national GOP and Republicans in Arizona are hiding the truth and "are working for the other side!" He's totally right! Hopefully Republican voters won't stand for it any longer and will vote all of them out of office next year to show 'em!

Next, from RINOs in Arizona, to DINOs in Arizona. Kyrsten Sinema, according to a number of her fellow Democrats today, seems to be the one --- even more than Joe Manchin --- holding up passage, and even negotiation, on the Build Back Better Act, the wildly popular $3.5 trillion sweeping social safety net and climate change legislation which is at the heart of the Biden agenda. It's also fully paid for by a small increase on taxes on corporations and the wealthy. While we covered the four pieces of legislation at the heart of what led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to describe this week as "a time of intensity" in some detail on yesterday's BradCast, I'll refer you to that one and today's show for all of the maddening details here. Though I will note that Sinema's (and Manchin's, to a slightly lesser extent) intransigence could result in both the $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill failing to pass, along with the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure bill that Sinema was key to crafting with Republican Senators. She seems far more willing to negotiate with GOPers than with Congressional Dems in her own party, or even the Democratic President of the United States.

The result of all of this could be the death of both bills and Democratic hopes for success in 2022 along with it. But, it should be noted here, that even if Pelosi allows a House vote on the smaller, bipartisan infrastructure package that Sinema really wants to see passed this week (even though, unlike the larger package, it is not "paid for" and will increase the deficit that she and Republicans who support it claim to oppose), and even if it somehow is passed in the House (despite the Progressive Caucus vowing to vote against it), as Congressional expert Norm Ornstein explained on this program last week, Pelosi doesn't have to send it to the President until the reconciliation bill is passed as well. She can hold the smaller bill as long as she likes, according to Ornstein, who told us the Speaker never has to send it to the President's desk, if she doesn't feel like it.

Next, you may have seen the widely reported new statistics released by the FBI on Monday, finding an alarming spike in killings in the U.S., mostly with guns, during 2020. You may also have noticed that many of the stories on the new data --- from Washington Post, New York Times, NPR and others --- all referenced claims from police officials and academics who support them, that the record spike should be attributed, at least in part, to new policing rules and reticence by cops to take action following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year and the many others who were caught on tape being killed by the police.

Darn those "Defund the Police" activists whose outrageous advocacy has led to an historic spike in U.S. homicides!

Of course, that all appears to be bullshit, as explained by our guest today, CARL TAKEI, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU's Trone Center for Justice and Equality, where he litigates police practices. "This is a story that we have heard before," Takei explains. "It actually goes back to 2014, when then-St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson coined the term 'Ferguson Effect'" after the police killing of Michael Brown in Missouri that year, which sparked national outrage, weeks of protests and demands for police reform. "The 'Ferguson Effect', according to its proponents, means that police choose to be less proactive because protests against police hurt their feelings. And this decrease in proactivity then leads to a rise in homicides and other violent crimes."

"The problem with this is it doesn't  make sense," says Takei. "Why would decreases in arrests of people for low-level offenses like pan-handling or passing bad checks --- using counterfeit bills, as George Floyd was accused of doing before he was murdered --- why would decreases in these kinds of arrests lead to more homicides? That's the unanswered question at the core of the 'Ferguson Effect' idea."

"Police, when it comes especially to serious violent offenses like homicide, are reactive," he argues. "They respond after the shooting has already taken place. And they don't actually have the ability to prevent gun violence. And that's why, over forty years of seeing crime go up and police budgets going up, and then crime going down but police budgets continuing to go up --- we have forty years of year-on-year increases in police budgets and we've seen that there's actually no relationship between how much we are funding the police and what is happening in terms of crime rates."

Takei tells me, "Police aren't actually able to address the root causes of crimes. Especially crimes like interpersonal violence, or crimes that come from economic distress, from mental health issues, drug dependence issues. All of that requires different tools. But we live in a country where oftentimes the first and only response to anything that's labeled as crime is 'give more money to the police.'"

So, to what does Takei attribute the largest one-year spike in murder and manslaughter since record keeping began on these statistics in the 1960s? And what should be done about it? Tune in to find out. But it is damned frustrating to see so many theoretically legitimate news outlets incuriously parroting these unsupported-at-best and arguably completely phony claims about violent crime.

Finally today, a bit of good crime-related news out of Los Angeles this week, where prosecutors have moved to expunge another nearly 60,000 marijuana-related convictions from the past three decades, some five years after California voters approved the use and sale of recreational cannabis...

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Also: Very good U.S. COVID news; More bad news for Exxon (but good news for the planet); Bad news for Postmaster General DeJoy...
By Brad Friedman on 6/3/2021 5:44pm PT  

We're old enough on The BradCast to remember the days when the news got really slow during the summer months after Memorial Day. These are no longer those days. [Audio link to full show follows summary below.]

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

  • Thanks to the Biden Administration's COVID vaccine efforts, infection rates in the U.S. are now as low as they have been since March of 2020 --- the very beginning of the pandemic --- and are still dropping. Death rates have plummeted as well. Infection and death rates elsewhere in the world, however, are still soaring. So, even while upping their efforts to get folks vaccinated in the U.S. in June, the Biden Administration is finally taking action to help the rest of the world as well, vowing to distribute 80 million doses to nations in need --- near and far --- over the next month.
  • On our Green News Report earlier this week, we reported on Big Oil's very bad day last week, which is now being referred to as "Black Wednesday" for the fossil fuel industry. It was the day that Shell, Chevron and Exxon each got very bad news in either the courtroom or the boardroom. While the news was bad for them, it was great for the planet and those of us concerned about global warming amidst our worsening climate emergency. For Exxon, the bad news was that two "activist" candidates for its Board of Directors were elected by shareholders to push the company toward a more sustainable business model. Two other climate advocate candidates, also backed by large, forward thinking hedge funds, were also on the ballot last week. But their contests, we were told, were too close to call. As of last night, Exxon announced a third activist candidate was indeed also elected to the company's 12-member board.
  • Bad news for Donald Trump's Postmaster General Louis DeJoy (who, unfortunately, is still somehow in charge of the U.S. Postal Service, despite his best efforts to dismantle it.) The FBI is now said to be investigating DeJoy for unlawful campaign fund raising for Trump and the GOP, after a report last year by the Washington Post revealed he had allegedly pressured employees at his company (before being appointed Postmaster) to give contributions to Republicans for which he would later paid them back. "Straw-donor" campaign finance schemes like that are unlawful. But while DeJoy has previously denied violating any campaign finance laws, his defense, since reportedly being subpoenaed recently by the FBI, has changed in a noteworthy way, which we explain.
  • That, of course, was just a preamble today for our coverage of the ongoing Texas Republican attempt to pass a massive new voter suppression law, known as Senate Bill 7 (or SB7). Yes, that's the measure that was blocked over the weekend, at least temporarily, when Democratic state lawmakers walked out at the end of the year's legislative session over the weekend, denying Republicans a quorum in the House and final passage of the bill for this session along with it. Nonetheless, Gov. Greg Abbot has vowed to call an "emergency" special session to get it passed in the near future.

    In the meantime, the GOP claims that the new law is needed to combat "voter fraud" in the state, even after their own Secretary of State in March declared the 2020 election to have been "smooth and secure". That, after the state's Lt. Governor Daniel Patrick offered a $1,000,000 reward for evidence of voter fraud (still no takers, apparently), and the state's Attorney General Ken Paxton (indicted on multiple felony counts of securities fraud, but still somehow in office), logged 22,000 staff hours to sniff out voter fraud, coming up with barely a handful of cases out of more than 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

    The TX GOP's "voter fraud" claims are --- as they always have been --- built on a house of blatant lies. We walk you through the real facts about their phony "voter fraud" claims today and explain why they're really hoping to get this bill passed, above and beyond hoping to disenfranchise voters of color. Also, we offer a big hat-tip to CNN's Brianna Keilar who shut down some serious bullshit lies this week by her guest, Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, the bill's lying lead sponsor.

  • Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest, very busy, Green News Report, including news of a major ecological disaster in Sri Lanka; bad news about global warming and heat deaths; bad news regarding water in the U.S. Southwest; tragic news about the REAL death toll from Texas' winter storm and completely avoidable power blackouts; but good news for Alaska (and the nation), as the Biden Administration is now blocking the Trump-era scheme to lease oil and gas wells in the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Preserve...

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Guest host Nicole Sandler with Guns Down America's Igor Volsky...
By Nicole Sandler on 5/26/2021 5:30pm PT  

It's NICOLE SANDLER, back in to guest host another edition of the BradCast so that Brad and Desi don't have to shout over the sound of jackhammers. [Audio link to today's show is posted below summary.]

I had a different show planned for today, but that can wait for another day. We awoke this morning to the news of yet another mass shooting. According to the Gun Violence Archive, this is the 232nd incident in which at least four people were shot in the US so far this year. Although it seemed as if we got a bit of a respite in 2020 due to the pandemic, that's the not the case at all. Instead, 2020 is the year in which gun violence killed more people than any other year in at least two decades.

It was just a few weeks ago that we had a spate of shootings in a few days, and I called on IGOR VOLSKY. He's the founder and executive director of Guns Down America, and author of the book, Guns Down. I decided to share that interview here today on The BradCast because Volsky is feeling optimistic that we're making progress in the area of guns.

The headline of this post is a line from a song I played after the interview. The artist is Cheryl Wheeler. She wrote the song, "If It Were Up To Me" in 1998 after the Jonesboro schoolyard shooting. I learned of it the following year, after Columbine. I sadly play it when it happens again. I felt the need to play it today...

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Guest: Cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter; Also: Judge nixes NRA's 'bad faith' bankruptcy; New AZ law will purge voters from mail-in ballot list...
By Brad Friedman on 5/11/2021 6:24pm PT  

Today on The BradCast, we slide down the slippery, oil-soaked slope of increasingly dangerous ransomware attacks with, as our guest warns today, "nothing" to stop one from taking out an election in the not-too-distant future.

But, first up, some better news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this afternoon, where a judge has nixed the National Rifle Association's attempt to escape accountability for massive corruption and self-dealing in New York, where state Attorney General Letitia James is suing the 150-year old "charitable" group to dissolve it. The NRA had filed for bankruptcy protection in order to duck NY's lawsuit and re-charter itself in the Lone Star State, where apparently they welcome corrupt "charitable" organizations. As we discussed on the show last week, with NRA expert and author Igor Volsky, the group's leader Wayne LaPierre, remarkably, filed for Chapter 11 protection without the knowledge of its Board of Directors or General Counsel. The judge described that as "shocking" and found that the NRA was unlawfully hoping to use the bankruptcy proceedings to avoid the NY state litigation. Judge Harlin Hale didn't buy it, however, and dismissed the "bad faith" filing today after an 11-day trial. The NRA will now have to face the music in NY, where the state AG declared in response: "No one is above the law." (We'll hope that's also true in her ongoing probe of bank and tax fraud by Donald Trump and his Trump Organization as well. She already succeed in shutting down HIS phony "charity", calling itself the Trump Foundation.)

Also today, more breaking news out of Arizona. Despite claims from some state Republican Senators that they are embarrassed by the clown show currently playing out in Phoenix with the Cyber Ninjas' "audit" theater of 2.1 million ballots from the 2020 Presidential election in Maricopa County, (one such GOP Senator who voted for the exercise now laments, "It makes us look like idiots"), the same Senators passed legislation on Tuesday to make it harder for some 140,000 Arizonans to vote. Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed the new law today, less than an hour after passage, which would purge voters from the permanent mail-in ballot list if they fail to vote in two elections in a row and then fail to return a letter within 90 days of it being sent to them. Democrats and some businesses charge that the measure disproportionately targets voters of color. But, of course, that's a feature, not a bug for the state GOP, still smarting from having lost the Presidential election and both of its U.S. Senate seats to Democrats.

Then, we're joined by longtime cybersecurity and national security journalist KIM ZETTER to discuss the ransomware attack which has led to the shut down of the Colonial Pipeline. The company's network supplies nearly half of the gas, jet fuel and diesel used on the Eastern Seaboard, as is snakes some 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey.

Zetter explains how this attack, attributed to a Russia-based group calling themselves DarkSide, was apparently able to burrow its way into Colonial's corporate IT computer network, if not to the operational computer network that actually controls the pipeline system, as well as why the company quickly decided to shut down the pipeline itself anyway.

After sharing some details she has gleaned from sources, including pipeline customers and suppliers, we discuss the recent rise of ransomware attacks which are extraordinarily effective and difficult to prevent. Many companies and organizations --- businesses large and small, hospitals, banks, and both state and local governments --- are now forced to pay the ransom demanded by the cyber-terrorists. Even today, news broke that negotiations between ransomware attackers and the D.C. Metropolitan Police have broken down, with the attackers now threatening to publicly release a sensitive list of police informants if more money is not offered. (The group is demanding $4 million, but claims the Department has offered only $100,000.)

"Unfortunately, this is an industry now," Zetter explains, describing the firms that now specialize in serving as negotiators with the hackers, while helping the crippled companies restore their systems with decryption tools supplied by the hackers once ransom has been paid.

Zetter is also one of the few journalists in the nation that has been covering concerns and vulnerabilities in computerized voting and tabulation systems as long as me. I spent many a sleepless night last year concerned about the possibility of a ransomware attack on wildly vulnerable state and county elections systems. "Nothing" can prevent such an attack, warns Zetter, especially on systems that are often left exposed and vulnerable on the Internet all year around, even when there are no current elections under way (as we discussed in detail with Zetter in 2019.)

As you may imagine, we've got lots to talk about with Zetter today. She has written for years on these matters at outlets such as Wired, Politico, New York Times, Vice's Motherboard and is the author of the book Countdown to Zero Day: Stuxnet and the Launch of the World's First Digital Weapon. She also now writes her own newsletter called Zero Day, covering all of these topics and more.

Finally, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, with more on how the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, the largest such network in the nation, is crippling the fuel supply on the East Coast; how a new study finds air pollution from farms causes thousands of premature deaths each year in the U.S.; more ominous signs of the worsening drought in California; and some much better news regarding electric vehicles and action being taken by the Biden Administration to restore landmark federal protections for migratory birds after the Trump Administration had dismantled them...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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Guest: NRA expert and author Igor Volsky of Guns Down America; Also: Minors held in Border Patrol custody plummet 90%, media downplays; Trump kids still grifting tax-payer money from Secret Service detail...
By Brad Friedman on 5/5/2021 6:54pm PT  

On today's BradCast, the end sure seems nigh for the indescribably corrupt, terrorist-supporting National Rifle Association, after some big news out of a federal courtroom in Texas this week. If it's too soon to discuss the news, I hope they'll understand that we're sending them our thoughts and prayers. [Audio link to full show is posted at end of summary.]

But first up, some more good news today, even if you'd be forgiven if you hadn't noticed, given the lack of media coverage. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, announced this week that the Biden Administration has "drastically reduced" the number of unaccompanied minors being held in Customs and Border Patrol facilities by nearly 90% over the past month. From almost 6,000 at the end of March --- when much of the non-wingnut corporate media had taken their cues from the wingnut media to declare a "Biden Border Crisis!" --- to fewer than 600 children held in CBP cages as of Tuesday. After covering the "crisis" in breathless headline after breathless headline at Washington Post over the past month, the paper noted the good news in an 8 paragraph squib that is almost impossible to find amid a long blog page of Tuesday news items, and comes days after both CNN and NYTimes and others (though probably not Fox "News") had already noted the development.

Then, some more news that --- given everything else going on --- has flown a bit under the radar. Amid the NRA's ongoing bankruptcy trial in federal court in Texas, a U.S. Dept. of Justice official from the U.S. Trustees office --- which enforces federal bankruptcy law --- has told the judge she opposes the gun group's petition for Chapter 11 protection. The unusual declaration may all but quash the NRA's hopes of going into bankruptcy in a corrupt scheme to avoid legal accountability in New York. State Attorney General Letitia James sued the NRA last August to dissolve the state's 150-year old "charitable" organization, due to wildly corrupt violations of the state's charter for non-profits. The NRA had hoped to receive bankruptcy protection from the federal government in order to duck the suit by closing shop in NY and reestablishing themselves in Texas, which apparently welcomes cartoonishly corrupt "non-profits" with open arms. (With a state Attorney General who is currently under indictment himself for state felony securities fraud and facing a broadening FBI criminal probe for corruption of his office, that should come as little surprise.)

The latest NRA news, of course, was a stunner to the group as it was revealed in court near the end of their trial this week. It also comes on the heels of another series of mass shootings in recent months. But good luck finding any news in recent years that doesn't. It does underscore, however, the absurd scam that the NRA's Wayne LaPierre has been pulling off against his own duped members for decades now (with millions of dollars in expensive vacations, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on fancy suits, sweetheart contracts for himself and his friends, all on the NRA's dime) and the far worse con that they've been pulling off on the American people in their corrupt, willful misinterpretation and lies about the 2nd Amendment.

The late, conservative U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger knew about it. He said during an interview in 1991, the 2nd Amendment had been "the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud on the American public by special interest groups that I have seen in my lifetime." The current Chief Justice, however, may be willing to play along with that fraud in an upcoming NRA challenge, just accepted by the Court last week, that may upend more than 100 years of state gun laws barring weapons carried outside of the house without a permit.

We're joined today to discuss all of that --- and how, and if, Joe Biden and the Democrats can possibly take action on gun safety legislation in this environment --- by IGOR VOLSKY, author of Guns Down: How To Defeat The NRA And Build A Safer Future With Fewer Guns. He is founder of Guns Down America, and details today the astonishing news emerging from the NRA's attempt to escape accountability in NY, while suggesting that this may really be the end for the NRA gun lobby as we know it.

He accused me "understat[ing] the kind of revelations we've heard from the bankruptcy trial, in which Wayne LaPierre, NRA board members and many other top NRA officials admitted to many of the just jaw-dropping allegations that were made against it by the NY Attorney General. Just to underscore, one the admissions that really stunned the courtroom was the current NRA president admitting that she shred and burnt documents because she feared they could be used against the organization."

"The great fear, according to insiders, that at least Wayne LaPierre has, is that the next wave of charges are going to be criminal and that he's going to find himself in an orange jumpsuit," Volsky reports.

"They also took a very unusual approach for an organization that claims they can no longer pay their bills," he says. "They publicly said they're as strong as they've ever been, they're still the nation's premiere gun rights organization, but that they were simply using this maneuver in order to get outside of the New York Attorney General's jurisdiction and move to Texas, where the laws are much weaker. That's not how one uses bankruptcy. That's not the way bankruptcy law works." It's also very likely another violation of the law.

So, what do its members think of all of this? And who will replace the NRA if they really are shut down for good? Those are among the separate questions we discuss as well, along with much more related to this topic.

Finally, speaking of rightwing grifters, good government group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW) has obtained records from the Secret Service, suggesting that, while Donald Trump may no longer be in office, he is continuing to steal a whole lot of tax-payer money for himself and his company. While the children of most Presidents no longer receive Secret Service protection after a new President is sworn in, before leaving office, Trump signed off on protection for his kids and three top appointees for and additional six months. Those kids do a LOT of travel and spend a LOT of time at Trump-owned properties --- in Bedminster, NJ, Palm Beach, FL, and Briarcliff, NY, to name a few --- and when they do, guess who receives tens of thousands of dollars from the Secret Service for accommodations?

Yup. The Trump grift never ends...

CLICK TO LISTEN OR DOWNLOAD SHOW!...

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