By now, you've certainly heard of the outrageous 9-hour detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport under Great Britain's supposed "Terrorism Act" over the weekend. As Rachel Maddow amazingly, but justifiably, found it necessary to point out loudly last night, "journalism is not terrorism", and both the British government and U.S. government (which has admitted receiving a "heads-up" about the planned detention by British authorities in advance, but didn't stop it from happening) should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable for the outrage.
Many have opined, since the detention of Miranda, what an outrage something like that would have been had a similar harassment and the seizure of personal property of, say, a New York Times journalist doing his or her job, occurred in this country or by a country so closely allied with the U.S.
Well, before we took our short break last week, I had been covering some of the increasing citizen protests in several states around the U.S. in reaction to the extreme and radical Republican policies being put in place by states where the GOP has recently taken control of state government. I covered the ensuing arrests of an 83-year old Korean War vet peacefully demonstrating for voting rights in NC (as he did with MLK in Selma, AL in 1965) and of an 80- and 85-year old couple in WI arrested in a crackdown by Republican Gov. Scott Walker's Capitol Police for participating in a daily protest sing along in the state capitol building.
While I was gone, it seems, things have gotten worse in Wisconsin, as an elected official was also arrested for singing along, and even the editor of a progressive news magazine was arrested for having attempted to record it...
Around the time Change.Org began circulating its petition, New York Times'Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, called for President Obama to "Fire Ed DeMarco". The blog detailed how DeMarco had, in defiance of the Obama Administration, rejected a U.S. Treasury Department request "that he offer debt relief to troubled homeowners --- a request backed by an offer that the U.S. Treasury would pay up to 63 cents to the FHFA for every dollar of debt forgiven."
Treasury's request was rejected even though, as Krugman explained, "a reduction in debt burdens would strengthen the economy," creating "greater revenues" that could "offset any losses from the debt forgiveness itself."
The fact that a Bush holdover, who, for so many years, has been committed to protecting the same Wall Street casino --- the market created out of mortgaged backed securities --- whose collapse triggered what Krugman insists is now a "depression", is primarily due to the ability of Senate Republicans to block both of the nominations Obama finally made to replace him...
"As he exited his trailer," Ellie Hall reports at BuzzFeed, "British actor Benedict Cumberbatch had a suggestion for the photographers camped outside the BBC Sherlock set Saturday in Cardiff, Wales"...
Smartly done, old boy. Hope other celebs steal the idea.
I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion. I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down. Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.
I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy. He's on trial in a system rigged against him. The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago. He's been convicted. The judge has been offered a promotion. The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor. Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence? Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong. But --- wow --- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom...
I'm heading off the grid, and deep into the mountains this week. Don't panic.
If the bears agree, I'll be back soon. There will be no important news over the next week or so anyway. I insist. What could possibly go wrong with that plan?
If you hear from my wife, call the police. I'm not married. She's a fraud.
P.S. Don't know if there's cell coverage where I'm going --- I hope not --- but feel free to keep an eye on my twitter feed (@TheBradBlog) just in case!
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UPDATE 8/19/2013: Just off the mountain. Safely. Some of you may be disappointed to know we did not get eaten by bears. For my part, I am disappointed that the world failed to heed my pronouncement that there would be "no important news over the next week or so". So, looks like I've got some catching up to do this week. Your patience, as ever, is appreciated...
With these 300 fraudulent votes created by one Republican candidate alone, that's 300 more fraudulent votes than have ever been created by ACORN or anybody who has ever worked for them.
But, of course, you're unlikely to hear that, or even this story itself, from the tenacious Fox "News" "voter fraud special investigative unit" or the GOP clowns who help them disinform American voters.
In the midst of his 2012 GOP primary campaign for a Massachusetts state House seat, Jack Villamaino changed the party affiliation of nearly 300 people in his town of East Longmeadow. Days later, the same number of absentee ballot requests were dropped off at the town clerk’s office, a list that was almost a “name-for-name match” for those whose registration information Villamaino had altered.
Earlier this week, Villamaino pleaded guilty to felony charges of stealing ballots and changing the party affiliation of 280 Democrats during his campaign for state representative. A judge sentenced him to a year in jail, only four months of which he'll be forced to serve behind bars.
The remainder of that sentence will be suspended, and Villamaino will also be required to serve a year of probation.
According to the article, "Villamaino, a former East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen chairman who resigned last year amid the scandal, ultimately lost his Republican primary, and the GOP candidate subsequently lost to the Democrat in the race."
This 14-year old Canadian girl, Rachel Parent, is tremendous. Watch her clean the clock of the TV host who bad-mouthed opponents of Monsanto and their GMOs and those who support the "Right to Know" campaign to require genetically modified foods to be labelled as such.
She's just fantastic. My favorite part (and there were many), was when the jackass host accuses her of being a "shill" for "extremists"...just moments after he basically accused her of wanting to kill millions of children with her advocacy.
Texas defends itself against claims it discriminated against minority voters by claiming it discriminated against Democrats (p. 19):
DOJ’s accusations of racial discrimination are baseless. In 2011, both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats. It is perfectly constitutional for a Republican-controlled legislature to make partisan districting decisions, even if there are incidental effects on minority voters who support Democratic candidates.
Our own Ernie Canning covered the DoJ's recent federal court filing seeking to require preclearance for all new election laws in Texas, given their recent history of racial discrimination in election-related laws. The move by DoJ comes on the heels of the Supreme Court's June decision in Shelby County v. Holder which otherwise tossed out the list of racially discriminating jurisdictions (Texas had been one of them) previously covered by the Voting Rights Act's pre-clearance requirement.
Hasen characterizes the Texas response as an "overreach" in their attempt to hide behind the Shelby County decision. However, Hasen also cautions that the Texas argument "could well find a receptive audience at the Supreme Court." And, I should also mention, the final paragraph of Hasen's article is chilling.
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record breaking weather extremes are the new normal; Surprise! 'Conservative' media disinforms the public; Fossil fuel industry showers Republicans with campaign cash; Seattle's community solar; PLUS: The FATBERG that threatened London ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): What are the most climate-friendly cars?; Solar wars in Arizona; South Korea launches world's first road-powered electric charging system; Wind power cheaper than coal, natural gas; TN sells out of solar credits in 1 day; Wells run dry in KS; Native Americans arrested protesting tar sands on tribal lands; Sea level rise threatens major American cities - does anyone care?; BP CEO says he's done paying oil spill claims; How does Elon Musk's Hyperloop work? ... PLUS: How a powerful group of corporations quietly tried to roll back clean energy standards, and failed miserably ... and much, MUCH more! ...
I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by Dan Froomkin, formerly of the Washington Post, where he worked for more than a decade before becoming Washington Bureau Chief for the Huffington Post before becoming the founder of the soon-to-be-launched Center for Accountability Journalism at FearlessMedia.org.
His response to that question and others on the recent shameful history and hopeful future of journalism were much more optimistic than mine --- but, as I note during the show, I really need a break (which I hope to get somewhere in the mountains next week), so I may be a even more cynical this week than usual.
I was watching a segment last night on Rachel Maddow's show with Desi Doyen, concerning the recent warnings issued to Americans and the evacuations at dozens of U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The actions were taken due, we are told, to "chatter" detected by intelligence services of the possibility of attacks by al-Qaeda (and/or "associated forces") to American interests in the region.
Maddow framed the actions being taken by the U.S. government in the context of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo --- "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" --- ignored by George W. Bush just one month before the 9/11 attacks. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that memo.
In her conversation with NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Maddow discussed the memory of that infamously ignored warning, and what effect it may have on the way the U.S. government now reacts to such detected threats. "In a post-9/11 world", the argument goes, President Obama and all future Presidents are likely to be very conscious of not underestimating such memos and "chatter," in the event that an attack does come about, for which they could later be held accountable for having ignored the "clear signs." (Not that George W. Bush or his administration was ever held accountable for such things, but that's a different matter.)
While watching the conversation about the dozens of closed diplomatic posts, I said to Desi, "I bet they're wildly over-reacting. It's not about post-9/11. It's about post-Benghazi."
In either an abundance or over-abundance of caution, U.S. embassies and consulates are being warned and shuttered and Americans are being air-lifted out of countries. It's not the memory of 9/11, at this point, that the government seems to be reacting to. It's as much the Republican reaction and/or over-reaction and/or political bludgeon made of the deaths of four U.S. personnel at our diplomatic outpost in Libya last year that seems to be leading to this reaction and/or over-reaction by the government.
Indeed, moments after I had uttered that thought to Desi, Mitchell said to Maddow: "I think, Rachel, that this is not just post-9/11, this is post-Benghazi."
The way our government now reacts to such events is not necessarily based on common sense, it seems to be as much based on fear. Not necessarily fear of being attacked, but fear of missing some important warning or another and then being held politically accountable for it later.
Since so much of this is kept secret --- except for stuff classified as "secret" and "top secret" that is routinely leaked by government officials who, unlike whistleblowers, are almost never held accountable for such leaks of classified information --- we are largely left to simply "trust" that the government is accurately portraying the threat, whether they are or not, and whether they are simply over-reacting out of caution and/or political ass-covering.
All of this, then, adds an interesting light to a curious story reported this week by Al-Jazeera English's Jason Leopold (formerly of Truthout) highlighting the government's seemingly bizarre claims that they have concerns that al-Qaeda may "attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo" or otherwise, somehow, "undermine security at the facility" if too much is known about what goes on there.
But that's not the most interesting aspect of the story...
[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]
On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.
The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...
I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.
While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Breaking: Another coal mine disaster in KY; 200 arrested protesting Chevron's toxic 100-year old San Francisco refinery; Why are drillers wasting 1/3 of natural gas?; South Korea's growing nuclear industry scandal; Extreme heat naturally poaching Alaska's salmon; PLUS: The world's first test-tube burger ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): "Fatberg" ahead!; Will global warming lead to more war? It’s not that simple; NM farmers draining aquifer for fracking; Climate changing faster that in past 65m years; IG to probe State Dept conflict of interest; Fukushima: radioactive water 'emergency'; Gag order for 2 kids over fracking; Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt; Wind energy fastest-growing energy source in US ... PLUS: Screw Your Salmon And Your Virgin Wilderness, Alaska, America Hungers For Molybdenum! ... and much, MUCH more! ...
It was outrageous, it was inappropriate, and we reported it as such at the time, just as we did in 2011 when, in a bit of déjà vu, he similarly shut down a town hall event in WI after protesters there expressed outrage over the Republicans' radical anti-union law recently adopted in the state.
So it is with much sincerity and great appreciation that we "call him out" today, not for outrageous behavior, but for his outspoken and unwavering support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the very heart of that landmark civil rights legislation has been violently carved out by a 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June...