Emboldened by that focus, U.C. Berkeley Law Prof. John Yoo authored a response to the Senate Torture Report by way of a recent, Los Angeles Times op-ed. In 2002, while serving as the Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Yoo authored a memo that green-lighted CIA torture following the 9/11 attacks. The memo, according to UC-Irvine's renowned constitutional law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, should now serve as the basis for the prosecution of Yoo for war crimes. Shielded by the Obama/Holder Dept. of Justice's refusal to prosecute, Yoo shamelessly argued in his Los Angeles Times editorial that the newly released Senate Torture Report had shifted [emphasis added] "the debate beyond legality to effectiveness."
The issue of torture's "effectiveness" is not and never has been an appropriate subject for "debate." Robert Colville, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights makes that clear in referencing the U.N. Convention against Torture, an international human rights treaty to which the U.S. is a signatory. "Torture is prohibited absolutely, in all circumstances, at any time," he explains in regard to the treaty signed by President Ronald Reagan. "It cannot be practiced in war, in peace, during emergencies, during internal instability, any circumstances whatsoever."
Those legal proscriptions apply not only to those who carry out torture but also, under the principle of "command responsibility," to high level officials who facilitate or fail to prevent torture by their subordinates.
As I revealed in my five-part series on the History of CIA Torture: Unraveling the Web of Deceit back in 2009, for me, torture is exceedingly personal. In late 1942 my father, James R. Canning, was waterboarded at Shanghai's Bridge House, an infamous torture chamber --- something that entailed a frightening, traumatic and "exquisitely painful," six-hour ordeal. He eventually signed a "false confession" stating that he was a British agent, even though he knew it wasn't true and even though he believed at that moment he was signing his own death warrant.
This Partial Trial Transcript [PDF] includes my father's testimony at the 1948 Hong Kong War Crimes Trials. It exposes the hypocrisy in the Obama/Holder DoJ's failure to apply the same ("command responsibility") legal standard to Yoo, former Vice President Dick Cheney --- who now proudly declares "I'd do it again in a minute!" --- and other high-level, Bush administration officials.
In 1948, that "command responsibility" standard was used to convict Lt. General Eiichi Kinoshida, who received a life sentence even though there was no evidence he personally participated in torture.
If we are indeed, as proclaimed by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in her Forward to the Senate Torture Report, a "nation of laws," President Obama will heed the calls now being made by the ACLU, Human Rights Watch and even by The New York Times to appoint a special prosecutor who would investigate the crimes the CIA allegedly committed at the behest of Cheney et al --- crimes that appear as heinous and more so than those that were inflicted upon my father and his fellow civilian inmates during World War II...
In case you missed it last year, or wisely realize you can't wait to listen again, there is no better time to call in rest of the family, curl up around the fire and return to yesteryear with our award-wanting Very Special (And Somewhat Subversive) BradCast Holiday Special!, featuring The BradCast Radio Theatre Players...
• Or, if you prefer to listen to just one segment at a time:
PART 1: Intro & "Buzz Edsel versus the Giant Jupiterians!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 24 mins)...
PART 2: "Buzz Edsel versus the Sun-Stealers!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 16 mins)...
PART 3: "Buzz Edsel and the Santa Surprise!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 16 mins)...
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Since we are no longer sponsored by the Ford Motor Company --- as we were in the 1930s & 40s (as you'll hear when you listen to our holiday special) --- it is left to only readers and listeners like you to allow us even have a chance to continue doing all that we do here at The BRAD BLOG...
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 2014 on track for hottest year on record; Washington state governor proposes a carbon cap and trade system; Plastic trash pollution in the oceans worse than previously known; PLUS: Innovative solar energy breakthrough out of Australia... All that and more in our last Green News Report of the year!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA issues new rules for toxic coal ash waste; Measuring the true cost of coal; Insane impacts of factory farming; NDAA giveaways include increasing fracking on public lands; US power grid needs $2.1 trillion investment; Texas weakens chemical exposure guidelines; Most U.S. coastal cities to see 'nuisance flooding'; Autism again linked to air pollution exposure in pregnancy... PLUS: What Might Have Been - Al Gore on climate change in 1983... and much, MUCH more! ...
This guy, Tom Scott of Computerphile, is right on the money in every respect, when it comes to electronic voting --- be it via touch-screen computers, paper ballot optical-scan systems or, God forbid, Internet Voting. If I was British, and younger, and better looking, and smarter, this would be me...
After almost 11 years at this, it's great to see that at least a few folks are finally getting it. While many understand some of the problems of e-voting, too many still think those probs can be solved with "paper trails" or "open source systems" or Vote-by-Mail or, somehow, even Internet Voting (via phone, tablet or elsewhere). Scott clearly understands, and smartly explains in the short video above, why the problems of electronic voting and tabulating cannot be solved by any of those methods, no matter how much many otherwise well-intentioned folks may wish they could be.
Beyond that, he goes on to make a number of spot-on points, though all of them are predicated on one key notion that, while it may still be true in Great Britain, is becoming more and more of a distant memory in the U.S. every day: An election where everyone in the public is allowed to observe the removal of hand-marked paper ballots from the ballot box, and watch them being counted right then and there, is the most secure and "trustworthy" election possible --- at least based on hundreds of years of vote counting in democracies...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Nothin' but good news for a change! New York issues first permanent ban on fracking; Obama permanently protects Alaska's Bristol Bay; PLUS: More accountability, more indictments in West Virginia toxic chemical spill... All that and more surprisingly good news in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Drone video footage reveals massive toxic lagoons of pig feces; Warming oceans killing off Maine's cod; Big Coal evicts villagers in Columbia; Ohio coal companies ask government for bailout; Why oil prices keep falling; What is the 'atmospheric river' hitting California?... PLUS: The most brazen political lie of 2014: "Climate change is a hoax"... and much, MUCH more! ...
(Thanks to Thom for the kind words after I hung up.)
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P.S. Without a proper break over the summer this year, and then continuing non-stop since the elections, I must say I'm not nearly an accomplished enough writer to properly describe how fried I am right about now.
As mentioned, I'm on the road and will continue to be until after the New Year. I need to complete some deadlines for articles elsewhere, knock out a few radio shows, and figure out how The BRAD BLOG can survive as we move forward into our 12th(!) year in January. But between now and then, I'm going to try to force myself to take some down time, at least from blogging, if possible, for a few weeks. We'll see if I'm successful. I'm usually not. (I suspect I may, at the very least, be popping up on Twitter. So be sure to follow both @TheBradBlog and @GreenNewsReport there in the meantime if you're not already.)
So, while there may be a few things rolling here, if things are quieter than usual for a while, all of that would be why...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Congress wraps up for the year with Republican anti-environment initiatives to be signed by the President; UN climate summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for final talks in Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate change denier... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Remembering the genius who got BPA out of your water bottles, and more; Jan.-Nov.2014 the hottest ever recorded; Why the US-China climate deal is a true game-changer; Solar efficiency breakthrough from Australia; Fact or Fiction? Can geoengineering solve our global warming problem?; Saudi Arabia 'playing chicken with its oil' ... PLUS: Climate Change Takes A Village: as the planet warms, a remote Alaskan town shows just how unprepared we are ... and much, MUCH more! ...
A few weeks ago, Francis Barry, whose bio identifies him as having "previously served as Director of Public Affairs and Chief Speechwriter for New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg," had a piece published by Bloomberg View (the op-ed arm of the Bloomberg News outlet), portending to examine whether Photo ID voting laws had an adverse effect on turnout this year.
Specifically, as the very first paragraph of his piece explained, Barry claims to have been looking at whether "voter identification laws suppress turnout" since, as he opined in the same graf, "Liberals" argue "not all citizens have the type of ID that many states now require at the polls."
The piece, headlined "Quit Blaming Low Turnout on Voter ID", went out of its way to make the case that such laws had nothing to do with turnout this year, as some states with such laws even saw higher turnout than others without them. While one could attempt to make such an argument, in this case, unfortunately, Barry used extraordinarily deceptive data and moving goal posts in order to do so, as detailed in the emails (posted below) between me, him and one of his editors.
The main trick he employed was an apples to oranges comparison of turnout rates in "21 states that had a competitive gubernatorial or Senate race", where, he misleadingly claimed, "Fourteen of the 21 states had a voter ID requirement in place, while seven didn't".
But here's the thing. Barry deceptively swapped the type of very specific Photo ID laws cited in his first paragraph, with very non-restrictive ID laws that are in use without objection in many states.
When I explained all of this in detail to him and his editors via email (all posted below), the response I received back was, as I noted, "mind-boggling, to be frank"...
Proponents of Oregon's Measure 92, a GMO labeling initiative, are conceding defeat in what had become the most expensive ballot campaign in state history. The proponents from RightToKnow.org were unsuccessful in their lawsuit this week arguing that some 4,600 ballots were illegally left uncounted and should be included in the final tally from the razor-thin November 4th contest.
"Oregonians will never know the true outcome of this election," Paige Richardson, Campaign Director for Yes on 92 said, after a judge rejected the group's attempt to block final certification of the automatic statewide "recount" that followed the extraordinarily close computer-tallied results of the contest.
A hand-count of some 1.5 million hand-marked Vote-by-Mail (VBM) paper ballots cast and previously tallied only by optical-scan computers was triggered after the initially certified margin of defeat for the initiative was just 812 votes, or .02 percent, or just 812 votes. State law requires hand counts for elections with an initial margin of less than .5 percent.
Some 13,000 ballots across Oregon --- which holds its elections only by mail-in ballot --- were rejected and never counted due to signatures on the ballot envelopes judged by election officials to not match those on voter registration cards on file. Voters with signature problems on their ballots are sent a letter to notify them, allowing them two weeks to contact officials to confirm that they were the one to have cast the ballot in question.
Additionally, a new state law requires the Sec. of State to publicly release the names of such voters. That allowed proponents to try and contact those voters to urge them to cure their signature problems with county election officials. 8,600 voters responded and ultimately had their ballots included in the tally, while 4,600 did not. Those 4,600 rejected ballots, more than enough to potentially flip the final results of the election, were left uncounted...
While I never expected to make a profit, much less a killing, covering the things that we do here at The BRAD BLOG, it would be nice if we could even come close to breaking even. Otherwise, it would very much be a shame if we had to make big changes around here after proving the old axiom true that it's impossible to stay "in business" by covering stuff that may not be popular, that may not be "clicky", but that really does need to be covered.
Please consider a donation to keep that from happening. To put it bluntly, we need your help. So, thanks in advance for whatever support you can offer. - Brad
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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: GOP anti-environment wish list makes it into "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate treaty talks in Peru; Worldwide calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into joining UN Green Climate Fund; PLUS: 'Freedom Industries' boss facing accountability for West Virginia chemical spill... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Russia’s militarization of the Arctic; 7 psychological reasons stopping action on climate change; Study gauges total plastic pollution in ocean; The big hidden energy story unfolding - and it's not oil; Unraveling the El Nino mystery; Should solar homeowners pay for grid maintenance? ... PLUS: How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030... and much, MUCH more! ...
Incredibly enough, it's been ten years this month since we broke the story about vote-rigging software whistleblower Clint Curtis. It was certainly the biggest story we'd broken up until that time, in December of 2004, and, for some, it is still the story we may be best known for.
That's not surprising as it involves election fraud, touch-screen voting systems, Florida, a powerful Congressman, the Bush family, Chinese spies and several disturbing deaths.
For those not familiar with it, you can find a quick summary here. The index of most of the key articles in our years-long series, beginning with our 12/6/2004 exclusive on Curtis' sworn affidavit can be found at BradBlog.com/ClintCurtis. (And, yes, if you're looking for the horrifying NSFW "crime scene photos" of the main death involved in this case, those are here.)
In short, Curtis was a software programmer from Oviedo, FL who claimed in a sworn 2004 affidavit and then sworn testimony before members of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, that he was asked to create a vote-rigging software prototype for touch-screen voting systems back in 2000 by then Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), a very powerful Republican in the Sunshine State and a close friend of the Bush family. At the time, Curtis worked for a company named Yang Enterprises, Inc., which had many contracts with NASA and the state of Florida. In 2000, when he says Feeney asked him to create the vote-rigging software, Feeney was both the Speaker of the FL House, as well as a registered lobbyist for Yang. Feeney would also go on to great ignominy due to his dealings with Republican uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
There is much much more to this story, much of which was also eventually told in Murder, Spies and Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story, an award-winning documentary film by Patty Sharaf. It includes spying for China and at least two deaths in addition to the vote-rigging allegations, but I'll let you explore it all via the links above and/or in my all-new interview with Curtis from this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast
As it's been 10 years since we broke the initial story, it seemed a good time to get caught up with Curtis, reminisce a bit about the original story (and his eventual, gutsy, and at times hilarious campaign to run against Feeney for the U.S. House), as well as find out what he (and Feeney) have been up to since then --- even as we've been almost-continuously reporting on new developments in the case over the years since we originally broke the story in late 2004.
I gotta say I enjoyed this interview with Clint --- it was great to catch up with him --- and I hope you will too.
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system and much more --- now completing our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...
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In the tiny seaside town of Long Island, Maine --- and for the national media that followed it --- it was an inscrutable mystery fit for Murder She Wrote's Jessica Fletcher. Except that it wasn't murder at the heart of this mystery, it was a potentially 'stolen' election, which, upon additional investigation, has now been 'unstolen', with the state Senate candidate rightfully elected by the people of Maine's District 25 finally set to take her seat in the state legislature after another dramatic turn of events this week.
We recently detailed the fascinating story of 21 "phantom ballots", all cast for Republican state Senate candidate Cathleen Manchester, which, when reportedly "discovered" during a November 18th recount of the very close Maine Senate race, ended up flipping the results from the slim victory Democratic candidate Catherine Breen thought she had achieved on Election Night to a "win" for her GOP opponent.
The tantalizing mystery in the town of Long Island included 171 ballots tallied by hand there on the night of the November 4th election and the same number of voters confirmed to have voted in the town's official Voter Manifest, either by absentee ballot or at the tiny town's only polling place.
Like the public hand-count of all the town's ballots at the end of Election Night, Long Island's only polling place was overseen all day by its Town Clerk Brenda Singo (who, over the past week or so, had strangely, yet repeatedly refused to answer what we thought were fairly simple, straightforward queries from The BRAD BLOG about the town's precinct-based Election Night hand-count and the chain of custody process thereafter for its hand-marked paper ballots.)
During the recount of paper ballots in the seven towns comprising Maine's Senate District 25, however, a funny thing happened. 21 "new" ballots showed up in Long Island, all for the Republican Manchester, resulting in her being certified as the "winner" of the recount overseen by the Secretary of State's office and the Democratic Breen's subsequent contest of the recount results falling to the Republican-majority state Senate to be investigated and ultimately decided there.
Before the Special Committee, comprised of four Republicans and three Democrats, could convene, the outcome didn't look good for the Democrats. The GOP majority "provisionally seated" Manchester, despite strenuous objections from state Dems.
The resolution of the mystery on Tuesday, however --- which resulted in one state official declaring "I'd eat my hat if I had one" --- has flipped the final results back to the Democrat once again, cleared the Town Clerk Singo and other election officials of further suspicion and, as we noted in our original report, underscored once again the undeniable fact that hand counting hand-marked paper ballots at the precinct on Election Night is the most reliable and publicly overseeable way of assuring that election results actually reflect the true intent of the voters...
"Torture never happened!," they used to say. Then, "Okay, it happened, but it wasn't torture!" Then, "Okay, torture happened, but it was necessary!" Now, "This report is just meant as a distraction from America's real problem: ObamaCare!"
You get the idea. So did legendary syndicated cartoonist and blogger Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins), and he's been covering it with brilliant, dead-on satire for years. With the release of the Senate report, almost a decade in the making, we're posting a few very-much-related Tom Tomorrow toons from over the years below, as self-selected by Perkins on Twitter today.
"It's not as if we've learned nothing in ten years," he tweeted. "In a 2004 cartoon, I still had to explain what 'waterboarding' was."
And, as he also made clear, none of what we are learning today is ultimately a surprise. "Presumably if the cartoonists knew about it, the White House did as well."
They did indeed, as a glance at these toons from over the years makes clear yet again...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into the record books; Doesn't look good for Keystone XL pipeline, if Obama on The Colbert Report is to be believed; PLUS: Rich vs. Poor: Deep divisions stall UN climate talks... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Solar panel efficiency breakthrough - record 40 percent efficiency; Louisiana's 'moon shot' to restore disappearing coastline; 'Significant' methane leaking from abandoned wells; Supreme Court rejects BP challenge to Gulf spill settlement; Heat waves will increase in Europe... PLUS: Fossil Fuel companies in secretive alliance with Republican Attorneys General ... and much, MUCH more! ...