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Latest Featured Reports | Thursday, November 14, 2019
'If This Isn't Impeachable Conduct, What Is?':
Public Hearings Begin:
'BradCast' 11/13/19
Extended excerpts and analysis with guest Heather Digby Parton...
New EPA Rule Guts Science, Public Health for Corporate Polluters: 'BradCast' 11/12/19
Guest: Dr. Andrew Rosenberg of Union of Concerned Scientists; Also: SCOTUS allows suit against gun-makers, but may kill DACA; Impeachment begins; Our 1000th 'GNR'!...
'Green News Report' 11/12/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
OUR 1000th EPISODE! Looking back and forward at a thousand episodes of the 'GNR' with a few messages from some friends and the funniest snarky comment of all time!...
Previous GNRs: 11/7/19 - 11/5/19 - Archives...
EVERYTHING Is Now Political (Even CA Wildfires!): 'BradCast' 11/11/19
Callers ring in on impeachment, the climate change 'hoax', the new touchscreen vote system disasters last week in GA and PA, and in L.A. before next year's 2020 election...
Sunday 'Leaves of Crass' Toons
All the fall colors are on display in PDiddie's latest weekly toon collection...
Religious Freedom in Opposite World: 'BradCast' 11/8/19
Guest Host Nicole Sandler with Frederick Clarkson of Political Research Associates on the Christian right's new 'Project Blitz'...
Might Bevin Really Try to Steal KY's Gubernatorial Election?: 'BradCast' 11/7/19
Guest: U. of KY's Joshua A. Douglas; Also: NY judge fines Trump millions for fraudulent 'charitable' foundation; Much more...
'Green News Report' 11/7/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
11,000 scientists issue dire warning; Hottest Oct. ever recorded; Trump EPA to weaken water standards, again; PLUS: Honolulu, Maui County sue Big Oil for climate damages...
Previous GNRs: 11/5/19 - 10/31/19 - Archives...
2019 Off-Year Election Vote System Disasters and Electoral Triumphs: 'BradCast' 11/6/19
Guest: VA Delegate Mark Levine; Also: Brand new touchscreen vote systems failed in GA, PA, while Dems saw big wins elsewhere...
One Year Out: Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. (Then Take Action!): 'BradCast' 11/5/19
Election Day 2019 voting system failures; Trump failures; 2020 polling failures; What YOU must do about all of it...
'Green News Report' 11/5/19
Trump begins withdrawal from Paris pact; Another Keystone Pipeline spill; Trump threatens disaster aid for CA wildfires; PLUS: Thunberg takes Los Angeles...
Nope. Not 'Getting Over It', A Year After Kavanaugh: 'BradCast' 11/4/19
Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov's reelection contest...
Sunday 'Fall Back' Toons
You've got an extra hour this week to peruse PDiddie's latest toon collection! You're welcome!...
Warren's Plan to Pay for 'Medicare for All' Without Raising Middle Class Taxes: 'BradCast' 11/1/19
Guest: Alice Ollstein; Also: Repubs blocking 2020 student vote; Hill's final floor speech...
Divided House Holds Historic Vote on Impeachment Rules: 'BradCast' 10/31/19
Also: Impeachment 101; NSC official corroborates Trump's quid pro quo Ukraine pressure campaign...
'Green News Report' 10/31/19
Trump losing 'war on coal'; CA fires, blackouts an ominous sign for nation; Severe flooding coming to coastal cities; PLUS: Carmakers pick sides in clean air battle....
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Guest: Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on not returning to SCOTUS; Also: John Oliver touches on touchscreens; KY Gov. Matt Bevin's reelection contest...
By Brad Friedman on 11/4/2019 6:13pm PT  

On today's BradCast: John Oliver touches on America's voting machine crisis, America goes to the polls again (using those same, unverifiable touchscreen voting systems), and one year after accused sex assaulter Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, one 20-year veteran SCOTUS journalist is refusing to return to the Court...and for very good reason. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up, as we are now officially --- finally --- less than one year away from the critical 2020 Presidential election, our electronic voting systems in many states are still just as bad and dangerous and vulnerable and unverifiable as they were 15 years ago. And, in a bunch of states and jurisdictions across the country, they are getting even worse and less verifiable than they were in the 2016 election. HBO's John Oliver dipped into the issue on his latest Last Week Tonight on Sunday night and got a lot of stuff right regarding our easily-hacked, oft-failed touchscreen voting systems that have been in use over the past several decades. Unfortunately, he also left out a whole bunch of stuff regarding the new and equally vulnerable and 100% unverifiable computer touchscreen Ballot Marking Devices (BMDs) which are now being installed and proliferating in states (many of them key battlegrounds) from coast to coast before 2020. In short, as we detail, Oliver's report was excellent....if this was 2009. As it is now 2019, however, his commentary was a bit wanting. But, we'll take what we can get and that, of course, is why you have The BradCast.

In related-ish news, a bunch of off-year state and local elections are happening in several states on Tuesday. Among the noteworthy contests is the gubernatorial race in Kentucky, where the unpopular and very Trumpy Republican Governor Matt Bevin is fighting for his life in a race with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear (son of the Bluegrass State's former Governor Steve Beshear), in what pre-election polls suggest is currently a dead-heat contest. But, as we detail today, Bevin was down anywhere from 3 to 5 points in pre-election polling during his first run for Governor against then Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway in 2015. Nonetheless, as we detailed that year, he somehow ended up winning the race, reportedly, by nearly 9 points in a state which still forces many voters to use the same unverifiable touchscreen voting machines that helped Bevin win in 2015. Many of those systems are the same very old, vulnerable and unverifiable ones which Oliver railed against on his HBO piece on Sunday. Trump is in KY on Monday night to help "drag one of the nation’s most unpopular governors across the finish line," as the New York Times describes it today, in what many see as a potential bellwether race ahead of 2020.

Meanwhile, it has now been just over a year since Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in to his lifetime post as an Associate Justice on the Republicans' stolen U.S. Supreme Court. He was seated on the bench almost immediately after Republicans in the U.S. Senate rammed through his nomination --- with the help of a trumped up FBI "investigation" --- late last year despite multiple, credible allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh from the time he was in high school and college.

Longtime SCOTUS journalist DAHLIA LITHWICK wrote at Slate last week about why she has not returned to the Court since Kavanaugh was sworn in. She joins us today to discuss the reasons behind her decision, and why, as she described, she will "not accede to the routinization and normalization of the unprecedented seat stolen from President Back Obama in 2016" by Mitch McConnell and Republicans, nor from the "unprecedented seating of someone who managed to himself evade the very inquiries and truth-seeking functions that justice is supposed to demand" in Kavanaugh.

"One-quarter of the federal appeals courts, at this moment, three years into the Trump presidency, are Trump nominees. We're not just talking about nine justices on the Supreme Court. We're talking about the most strategic, systematic takeover of the federal bench that any president has ever effectuated," she tells me. "And that is happening day by day, right under our noses. And those judges are also going to sit for decades. So it's not just the Supreme Court."

It's a fascinating and important conversation, I think, about not only why none of us should simply "get over it" and "move on", when it comes to both Kavanaugh and the stolen seat filled by Neil Gorsuch, but also why our nation's seeming inability (or even interest) in assuring accountability for all manner of precedent --- and criminal law --- breaking in recent years has brought the country to the perilous position we now find ourselves in: Trump in the White House, the Supreme Court stolen and federal courts packed with unqualified rubes for life, and SCOTUS on the precipice of deciding a number of enormously momentous issues this session from union rights to reproductive justice.

"It's what happened when Barack Obama made the decision that we just are not going to re-litigate the CIA torture program, and this very aspirational notion that if we all forgive and forget, we all get to meet in the middle and work toward better outcomes. It's kind of Lucy with the football --- it never works out to meeting in the middle and working toward better outcomes. It just turns out that, yet again, ground has been ceded," she tells me.

"We're really bad at this. The heart wants what it wants, and the heart wants normal. I think that we keep believing that this erosion, this slow systemic erosion of norms, is somehow normal. I thought it was a law, it's not a law. I thought it was a rule, it's not a rule," says Lithwick. "We didn't didn't used to seat 37-year-old bloggers who've never set foot in a court room as a federal judges for life. And now we do. There's no law, there's just a norm. What I was trying to get at in the piece is that constantly acceding to this and saying, 'Well, this is what it is now' --- that there are costs. There are huge, huge costs to democracy."

"Our scrutiny, our unwavering, unflinching, I'm-not-over-it scrutiny does make a difference," she insists. "We need to hold the Court to the same unflinching, 'we're watching you,' 'we care'. That seems like soft power, I understand it's not optimal, but I think the Court responds. What they really want is for us to put this on page A27 and get over it. And that's our choice, not theirs."

Lots of important stuff here, as I said. Can't really summarize it well enough here, so please tune in.

Also, Lithwick rings in with some thoughts --- which tie into the broader conversation --- on what she expects from John Roberts' Supreme Court following today's ruling by a federal appeals court in Manhattan that Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, must turn over some 8 years of his and his company's tax and other financial documents to New York state prosecutors and a similar decision by a federal appeals court in D.C. last month that the same firm must also turn over similar records to Congressional investigators in response to yet another lawful subpoena...

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

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Guest: Author, columnist, gun safety advocate Cliff Schecter on recent mass shootings in Texas, Florida, Vegas; Also: Trump remains dangerously clueless in advance of planned summit with North Korea...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2018 6:23pm PT  

On today's BradCast: The shootings and body counts mount while GOP politicians refuse to take action and rightwing media fan the flames. [Audio link to show follows below.]

First up today (after a quick thanks to In Deep Radio's Angie Coiro for covering for us late last week so I could "enjoy" some emergency oral surgery), a quick preview of Tuesday's primary elections in Arkansas, Kentucky and Georgia and primary run-offs in Texas, where the internecine battles between progressives and establishment Democrats continue to shake out.

Also, news that Don Blankenship, West Virginia coal baron and former federal felon (convicted for his role in safety violations resulting in the 2010 deaths of 29 minors in one of his mines in 2010) announces his plan to run on the Constitution Party ticket for U.S. Senate this November after coming in third in WV's GOP U.S. Senate primary two weeks ago.

Then, new details on the politically brain-addled man who opened fire inside the Trump National Doral Miami resort in South Florida on Friday, and a trove of witness statements are released related to the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas where a gunman opened fire on outdoor concert goers on the Strip, killing 58 and wounded more than 800 in a matter of minutes. Though officials never declared a motive for that shooting, the newly released statements suggest the shooter was an anti-government fanatic who had cited longtime Fox "News" and Rightwing talk radio tropes such as Waco, Ruby Ridge and FEMA camps in the days before the massacre.

Then, in a sadly similar vein, we're joined by author, Daily Beast columnist, podcaster and longtime gun legislation advocate CLIFF SCHECTER on fallout following Friday's mass shooting at Santa Fe High School outside of Houston, where a 17-year old student killed 10 and wounded at least 10 others. With the US now averaging at least one school shooting per week in 2018, we discuss who is to blame, what (if anything) can finally be done about any of it, and how Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo has courageously taken a very hard stand against the years-long failure of NRA-backed Republican politicians who offer "thoughts and prayers", but no actual action to try and help curb the nation's continuing, tragic and obscene gun epidemic.

"In Western European countries, you certainly have these radical rightwing groups like you do here," Schecter argues. "The key is they don't all have access to guns. They do here. That's what we're seeing. We're seeing white men radicalized and then armed. This is the predictable result of that."

"You're never going to prevent everything. There's still one shooting or two in Canada, and they've got much more stringent gun control. The key here is when you look at a public health crisis, you say 'What are the various ways, through regulations, policy, cultural change, shaming and the rest, that we can get to a place where people take this more seriously?'" Schecter goes on to explain how recent changes to gun laws have decreased gun violence, despite the idiotic statements of folks like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and others who suggest that gun regulations make things worse, and how citizen ballot initiatives can be used to work around intransigent politicians.

Finally today, some thoughts on the perilously planned June summit between North Korea's Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump, and the embarrassingly plain fact that Trump has absolutely no idea what he is doing, as revealed (once again) following National Security Adviser John Bolton's ridiculously ill-advised "Libyan model" comments...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/11/2017 11:14am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: At G-20 summit, the world moves forward on climate change as Trump retreats alone; Trump Administration announces 'red team' effort to question mainstream climate science; Court rejects EPA bid to roll back methane emissions rule; Volvo to make every car model electric; PLUS: California's green governor trumps Trump with global climate summit... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

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

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Power and Peril of “Climate Disaster Porn”; The Uninhabitable Earth: When will climate change make earth too hot for humans?; Obama Rues Loss of ‘American Leadership’ on Climate Change; Tribal, environmental groups sue over methane rule delay; Nuns protest Atlantic Sunrise pipeline by building chapel on route; Environmental groups slam Senate energy bill; Deep industry ties in Trump's deregulation team; Coal no longer fuels America, but the myth remains; Ganges River in India "dying", succumbing to pollution; Trump analysis of WOTUS omits economic benefits of clean water... PLUS: Franken and Letterman take on climate change in hilarious web series.... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




Guest: Susan Pynchon of Florida Fair Elections Coalition on high 'invalid vote' rate, a hacked election vendor, case calling for hand-counts in FL
Plus: Claims of Russian election hacking and chilling Trump transition news at DOE...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2016 6:51pm PT  

A federal court victory for Jill Stein in Wisconsin; a federal court hearing in Pennsylvania; the fight to restart counting in Michigan; and the case for a recount in Florida. Yes, in Florida. But that's just the tip of the iceberg on today's very busy BradCast! [Audio link to complete show follows below.]

First up, some encouraging news from the New York Attorney General concerning his intentions to hold Donald Trump's nominees to head up the Environmental Protection Agency and Dept. of Labor accountable to the rule of law. Then, a bit more good news out WI today, where a federal court dismissed a Team Trump attempt to stop the ongoing Presidential "recount" in the state.

Meanwhile, a federal court in PA heard Jill Stein's case calling for a statewide count and forensic analysis of voting systems today. And, following the the hearing, in a press conference outside the courthouse, University of MI Computer Science and voting systems expert Prof. J. Alex Halderman explained again why such a study is necessary.

"Over the past ten years, we've found every one of the [voting and tabulation systems in the U.S.] susceptible to hacking. Doesn't matter whether they're plugged into the Internet directly or not," he said. "The evidence on the paper ballots, the evidence on the software in the machines --- that's what we're asking to examine. And that's the only way we're ever going to know for sure whether our votes were counted correctly or not in the 2016 Presidential election. We think that by looking at that evidence, which seems to me like just a common-sense security precaution, we can increase voter confidence, and help everyone know their that their votes really counted." Those comments come on the same day that the Obama Administration announced plans to release a report on charges that Russian hackers attempted to interfere in the 2016 U.S. election.

Then, we're joined by long time election integrity champion, Susan Pynchon, founder of Florida Fair Elections Coalition and a central character in HBO's Emmy-nominated 2006 documentary Hacking Democracy, joins us to discuss a lawsuit [PDF] filed late last week calling for a statewide hand-count of paper ballots in FL(!)

Pynchon explains the reasons why it was filed, which include not just the surprising result in the state's Presidential race, but also reports that a Florida-based corporate vendor by the name of VR Systems --- a company contracted by about a dozen states --- was reportedly hacked earlier this year. She says they provided "voter registration and other services in 64 of Florida's 67 counties. Voter databases, management and tracking of mail-in ballots, and election reporting services on election night." (And here is that Exhibit T [PDF] from the complaint that I referenced during the show, concerning troubling voter registration problems reported on Election Day in several Sunshine State counties, including Broward and Lee.)

Also, Pynchon details the high "invalid vote rate" ("votes that weren't actually counted --- undervotes, overvotes, and invalid write-in votes"), which she says is "more than double in this election than it was in 2008 and 2012. We need to take a close look at that because it's not normal. It's not typical of past elections." She goes on to describe how one county was also found to have "ordered duplicate sets of [security] seals," asking: "So how secure is that when you're sealing a ballot box with a seal that could then just be replaced with your duplicate set of seals?"

Coincidentally, part of Halderman's remarks from outside of the federal courthouse in Philadelphia this afternoon, which we play in full on the show today, referred to how easy it is to break into those voting machine security seals. He says they are "easy to remove in just a few seconds with a hairdryer or a screwdriver."

"You know, if you'd asked me this ten years ago, I would have said, well, maybe it sounds like science fiction, someone hacking into a country's national election by tampering with the voting machines," warns Halderman. "I think it's only a matter of time before this happens, if it hasn't happened already."

Finally today, an incredibly chilling missive was confirmed to have been sent to the U.S. Dept. of Energy from the Trump transition team, seeking the names and details of scientists and other employees there and at national laboratories involved in climate change and other related studies...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/9/2016 11:21am PT  

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: In Rio Olympics' opening ceremony, Brazil goes big on global warming and the environment; U.S. government to use global warming 'litmus test' for all new projects; Melting Arctic ice uncovering anthrax and toxic waste; Happy Earth Overshoot Day; PLUS: Florida gets approval to release GMO mosquitoes... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What Happens to the U.S. Midwest When the Water's Gone?; Researchers find unsafe levels of industrial chemicals in drinking water of 6 million Americans; Climate Changes at Rio Olympics is Risky For The Health and Performance of Athletes; Chevron Wins Big in $9.5 Billion Oil Pollution Case. But It’s Not Over; A Year After Toxic River Spill, No Clear Plan To Clean Up Western Mines; Two former Republican EPA administrators throw support to Clinton... PLUS: Customers Could Pay $2.5 Billion for Nuclear Plants That Never Get Built... and much, MUCH more! ...

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




GUESTS: Climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann; AZ attorney Bill Risner...
By Brad Friedman on 12/3/2014 7:04pm PT  

On this week's very busy BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio:

• After a bit of breaking news on yet another failure to indict a white cop who killed a black man (in NYC), it's a quick (if disturbing) update on the continuing election recount mystery in Maine.

• The U.S. House race in Arizona's 2nd Congressional District (Rep. Gabby Giffords old seat) is headed to a "recount", as the state plans to "recount" ballots on the same faulty electronic optical-scan computers that tallied them in the first place. Pima County, AZ election law attorney Bill Risner joins us to discuss his lawsuit [PDF] against the state's plan for the "recount".

Dr. Michael Mann, Penn State University climate scientist and author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines responds to the disturbing climate change-related story line on a recent episode of Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom on HBO as we separate scary climate fact from even scarier climate fiction. Mann also comments on the seemingly very encouraging news out of Germany this week, suggesting that fossil fuel companies are seeing "the writing on the wall". The good news: The guy who created the infamous "Hockey Stick Graph" is actually the optimistic one, for a change!

• Finally --- as relevant as ever this week --- it's the 50th anniversary of the "Free Speech Movement" kicked off by activist Mario Savio's inspiring speech at the UC Berkeley sit-in in 1964 ("There's a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can't take part! You can't even passively take part! And you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus") and the 30th anniversary of the world's worst industrial disaster at the Union Carbide plant in India in 1984. We commemorate both.

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By Brad Friedman on 7/21/2014 12:46pm PT  

In the weeks since its debut on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has slowly, if assuredly, evolved from being little more than a weekend knockoff of its progenitor The Daily Show, to finding its own unique voice and ability to take advantage of the more in-depth "coverage" afforded by the lack of self-censorship otherwise required for commercial television and longer segments due to the lack of on-the-clock commercial breaks necessary for its Comedy Central brethren.

That maturity and evolution revealed itself in full flower during last night's lengthy segment on America's horrific and insane --- and getting horrificker and insaner --- prison and incarceration policy.

Aside from being really really funny at times, the lengthy segment was one of the smartest, most complete, most accessible treatises I've seen on TV --- or anywhere really --- in a very long time, if ever.

It concludes with a laugh-out-loud Sesame Street-style song on the broken state of America's prison policy, after covering obscenities along the way such as the explosive growth in our prison population; the failed "War on Drugs"; racial disparities in sentencing; our grotesque cultural fetish with "hysterical" prison rape humor; some fairly jaw-dropping Congressional testimony (courtesy of Sen. Al Franken); to the privatization and profiteering of the national Prison Industrial Complex which has culminated, as a judge described in 2012, in "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts".

This smart piece is well worth watching in full for too many reasons to list here...

[Note: For a somewhat less amusing, if no less important take on one related issue not mentioned by Oliver during his otherwise surprisingly complete overview, see the second part of Ernie Canning's three-part 2012 BRAD BLOG essay on the so-called "War on Drugs", which discusses how legalization might well disrupt the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex and its increasingly relied-upon pool of slave --- yes, slave --- laborers.]

CORRECTION: Our original article had the name of HBO's show wrong, as well as the quote from a federal judge about the privatized prison system in Mississippi. Both have been corrected above, thanks to commenter "Niemand" pointing out the errors below.



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