w/ Brad & Desi
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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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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Special note to anyone in our audience who's suffered trauma hearing about or watching the Kavanaugh hearings: the last segment of today's show is for you. My guest is DR. LASHANDA NALLS, Director of Trauma Therapy at Our Resilience in Chicago. Empathy and advice from the front lines, for both survivors and anyone in their loving circle. If you want to skip the rest and go right to that segment of the show, it's 45 minutes and 53 seconds into the show. And my most fervent wishes for your well-being.
Jeff Flake will go down in history as a split-the-difference kinda guy. It was his "neither this nor that" stance at the end of today's hearing that might well spell the end for SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I refer in today's show to an image on the New York Times story - a screen capture of a video by Erin Schaff. A man with much on his mind.
Flake voted yes, but not until he threw a wrench in the works: he wants an FBI investigation over the next week. It was utterly unclear even to his colleagues whether that was a motion or not - I've got the audio in the show for you - but it started the dominoes falling. Lisa Murkowski joined him in his stance. Mark Judge, the sole alleged witness to the assault on Ford, agreed to cooperate with the FBI. Finally, Donald Trump followed suit.
So was Flake's conscience sparked by Ford's story, or the other allegations, or the protesters --- more sexual assault victims --- who followed him to an elevator and made him listen? Or did he reach sudden clarity on what this episode will look like to future generations, and decide he'd better straddle that line but quick?
It doesn't matter, ultimately. The dominoes are down.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
I’m glad to have JODI JACOBSON on hand, from Rewire.News. Like me --- and like you, maybe --- she watched the whole Brett Kavanaugh circus today, and shares her impressions with us. She’ll be back again tomorrow.
Speaking of Rewire, this story posted there late today is deeply affecting. Watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s life get shredded, five Congresswomen spoke up to publicly identify themselves as victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. Rep. Alma Adams of North Carolina said so very simply that this is "just part of her job representing her constituents."
This hour I present to you the contrasting statements of the accuser and the accused. A tentative but strong, conciliatory and polite woman (asked about taking a break, she replied "Does that work for you? I’m used to being collegial."), and an angry, bellowing, interruptive, hostile nominee for a lifetime position on the U.S. Supreme Court. As Brian Behar tweeted: "Can you imagine what the reaction would've been if Dr. Ford had behaved even half as hysterically as Brett Kavanaugh or Lindsey Graham?"
Speaking of Twitter: you’re welcome to view my analysis of Brett Kavanaugh’s tell-tale face. I tweeted that thread before he took his seat at the hearing; then, every time I glanced at his face, it only confirmed for me his wrath at having his power, privilege, and entitlement questioned in the slightest. I guarantee you: countless women have seen that face in the worst of all possible circumstances, and you never forget it.
Until tomorrow, then...
Download MP3 or listen online below...
What does it say about the state of the nation when reporting on sworn allegations against a U.S. Supreme Court nominee may be NSFW? Safe for work or otherwise, we have that along with much more encouraging news on today's BradCast. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
First up, a report, for context, from Washington Post in 1990 about the alcohol and sex-fueled house party culture of several elite private high schools in Maryland, including the ones attended by both U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and at least one of his accusers.
Then, four sworn declarations were filed with the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, under penalty of perjury, on Wednesday, by the attorneys for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, on behalf of witnesses who say they were told years ago by Ford about her allegation of the attempted rape by Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge during one such high school house party. Each witness describes how Ford informed them about what she says happened, long before Donald Trump selected Kavanaugh as his SCOTUS nominee. (It's also worth noting that Ford's letter to her U.S. House Representative about the incident was also reportedly sent prior to Kavanaugh actually being named to fill the seat vacated by Justice Anthony Kennedy.)
Incredibly, none of those were the most startling declaration filed with the Committee under penalty of perjury on Wednesday by a long shot. Julie Swetnick, a long time federal agency employee with active and inactive Secret and Public Trust security clearances, filed a jaw-dropping affidavit detailing her years of knowing Kavanaugh and his close friend Mark Judge during high school in Maryland. In the declarations she says she attended many house parties at which the pair were present during those years, and charges that Kavanaugh "drank excessively" and would become abusive and physically aggressive toward girls whom he and Judge would "target" after spiking punch at the parties "with drugs and/or grain alcohol."
Most disturbingly, however, she describes her "firm recollection" of seeing both men lining up to participate in "gang rapes" of the incapacitated girls, and says that she became one of them in 1982. Swetnick attests that "shortly after the incident" she "shared what transpired with at least two other people" and is "aware of other witnesses that can attest to the truthfulness" of her statements.
Still, even with this third named accuser of alleged sexual crimes and misconduct in high school and college by Kavanaugh, the President of the United States refuses to order an FBI investigation into any of the charges, and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee intend, as of now, to move forward with Thursday's hearing with testimony only from Kavanaugh and Ford (but none of the many other witnesses or accusers). They say they plan to vote on his nomination in Committee the following day. A full Senate floor vote --- according to Donald Trump at a presser at the UN today, in which he described the allegations as part of a "big, fat con job" by Democrats --- could happen as early as this weekend, with the Court set to begin their new term on Monday.
Following those horrors today, we look toward the November midterms for at least some hope. A new poll by AP and MTV finds young voters, for some reason, citing increasing anxiety about the election. We also cover the widespread national effort to make voting easier for students on college campuses, and the effort by Republicans to prevent that. Happily, we can report an encouraging ending this week to one long fight to make it easier for students at a college near Philadelphia to participate in their own democracy.
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
On today's BradCast: It's National Voter Registration Day as the crucial midterm general elections on November 6th are now exactly 6 weeks away. Other than that, today's news may be somewhat less encouraging --- though we, and the world, manage to have a bit of a laugh at Donald Trump's expense, in the bargain. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up: Happy National Voter Registration Day! Do you need to register to vote before November 6th? Have you checked your registration lately to make sure it's accurate? Today is a great day to do so!
Today is also a great day, apparently, for the world to laugh at the President of the United States, as they literally did at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. Not with Donald Trump, but at him, during his address to the Assembly.
While there, during a joint media avail with the President of Colombia, Trump also took the time to attack the two named women who have accused his U.S. Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, of sexual assault during high school and his first year at Yale. Trump also dismissed the allegations as little more than "a con game being played by the Democrats." That, even as new information continues to buttress the allegations by the women and as the calls grow louder (even from Mormon women) for a full, legitimate investigation of their charges, which the White House and Republicans refuse to ask the FBI for (and which even potential Kavanaugh swing vote Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) now says she'd like to see.)
Meanwhile, Kavanaugh, a longtime GOP operative who claimed during his initial Senate confirmation hearings just weeks weeks ago that "the Supreme Court must never be viewed as a partisan institution", took to the right-wing Fox 'News' air waves on Monday night for a softball interview with his wife, in hopes of defending himself against the growing allegations. He and his first accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, are scheduled to give testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. In advance, the all-white, all-male Republicans on the Committee have announced they are hiring a woman to ask questions of Ford on their behalf, though they won't identify her. They have also now scheduled a committee vote on Kavanaugh's nomination the very next day, on Friday.
At the same time on Thursday, Trump is scheduled to meet at the White House with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Republican who oversees the Robert Mueller Special Counsel probe into the alleged conspiracy between Team Trump and Russia. The meeting, at which many expect Rosenstein will be fired, follows a misleading exclusive report published by the New York Times charging Rosenstein had suggested secretly taping Trump and recruiting White House staffers to invoke the 25th Amendment early last year. As subsequent reporting by other outlets reveals, however, Rosenstein was reportedly being sarcastic with his comments, according to people who were actually at the meeting in question. Nonetheless, we are still barreling toward a potential Constitutional Crisis as early as Thursday, thanks in no small part to the pretext for firing Rosenstein --- and perhaps Mueller, shortly thereafter --- äs provided by the Times' reporting.
We're joined today by former Media Matters media critic, author and political writer ERIC BOEHLERT of ShareBlue to discuss both of these stories and where they may be headed, as well as for some insight into what the hell is wrong with the New York Times.
On the Supreme Court, Boehlert says, among many things of note today: "With Merrick Garland, and with Kavanaugh, the Republican Party in 18 months is this close to demolishing the legitimacy of the United States Supreme Court. That has huge implications, not just for law and justice, but for an authoritarian like Trump. Because corrupting the high courts is always a goal of any authoritarian, just like de-legitimizing the free press."
As to his analysis of the "institutional problems" at the Times, you'll have to tune in for details, but he notes: "There does seem to be a pattern. When they get things wrong, they get things wrong in a way that helps Republicans."
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for our latest Green News Report, as the impacts of Hurricane Florence continue in the Carolinas two weeks after landfall, including new evacuations, more record flooding, the toxic release of coal ash into North Carolina waters, and the media failure to connect the climate change dots to all of it. She also offers a bit of good news for us today, for a change, out of Cleveland, OH! So there's that!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The impacts of Hurricane Florence ain't over yet, with new evacuations underway; As predicted, Florence flooding spills toxic coal ash waste in North Carolina; National TV media failed to connect the dots between Florence's impacts and climate change; PLUS: Endangered species and more hang in the balance as Republicans rush to get their nominee onto the U.S. Supreme Court... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Kavanaugh confirmation fight is also about the future of economic and environmental regulations; At this rate, Earth risks sea level rise of 20 to 30 feet, historical analysis shows; Hurricane Florence blows hole in Trump team's case for helping coal and nuclear power; ARPA-e seeks an energy holy grail: long-term energy storage; Super Typhoon Trami explodes in strength on its way toward Taiwan; Will Florence force a hog waste reckoning in N.C.?; Donald Trump called himself an environmentalist; Federal judge restores grizzly protections, canceling bear hunt; National parks are getting hotter and drier. What’s the outlook for 2100?... PLUS: The fracking industry's water nightmare is coming true... and much, MUCH more! ...
Monday provided a bit of a fire drill for the upcoming Constitutional Crisis, when it looked like Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees Robert Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Team Trump's alleged conspiracy with Russia in 2016, appeared to be about to be either fired or forced to resign. That moment, for now, will likely not happen now until Thursday, when he is set to meet with Donald Trump at the White House after the President's appearance this week at the U.N. General Assembly.
The showdown with Rosenstein comes on the heels of what appears to be a somewhat misleading exclusive published last Friday by the New York Times, reporting that Rosenstein "suggested" using the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office during a meeting at the Department of Justice last year, in the chaotic days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in his attempt to end the FBI's Trump/Russia investigation. Rosenstein, according to follow-up reports from other outlets quoting a source said to have actually been in the room at the time of the conversation in question, is said to have been sarcastic when mentioning wearing a wire to record the President.
Also coming up this Thursday, if all goes as currently scheduled, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is set to testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee after a weekend of negotiations with Senate Republicans following her accusation of sexual assault by U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh when they were both in high school. Over the weekend, and into Monday, several other allegations of assault (we're up to four now) by Kavanaugh in high school and college, vague or otherwise, have begun to surface.
We're joined today by Slate's Supreme Court and legal reporter MARK JOSEPH STERN to try to make sense of all of these quickly developing stories. In the Rosenstein saga, Stern details his concerns about Trump's Solicitor General Noel Francisco, who would be next in the line of succession to become Acting Attorney General overseeing the Mueller probe if Rosenstein is removed from his post. He describes Francisco as a huge Trump supporter, who has simply made up stuff out of whole cloth, even while arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Stern explains why Francisco would be very likely to try and shut down the Special Counsel probe if given the opportunity.
"He is an extremely unscrupulous, unethical and dishonest man," he tells me. "To let this guy, who would lie whenever it's convenient for him, control this investigation --- it's a recipe for disaster."
We also discuss why Republicans are in a desperate state of panic to install Kavanaugh as quickly as possible on their already-stolen SCOTUS. Among the reasons cited by Stern are both the odds of Republicans losing their majority in the Senate this November and a number of cases important to Rightwingers that are to be heard by the Supremes when they begin their new term on October 1. A 4-4 tie in several of those cases would be likely to benefit progressives.
"They've got to squeeze it all in while they still have that one-vote majority" in the Senate, he explains. "Now they just have to cross this final finish line, shove these accusers to the side and get this man on the bench for life."
Stern also responds to the claims by many on the right who suggest Kavanaugh should not be held accountable for his behavior as a 17-year old. That assertion, however, is at odds with how courts deal with crimes by 17-year olds who aren't nominated for lifetime appoints to the Supreme Court.
Stern, who happens to be a licensed attorney in the state of Maryland, also speaks to the weekend claim by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that the crimes alleged to have been carried out by Kavanaugh in MD 36 years ago could no longer be prosecuted. Stern argues that is not true and local law enforcement officials in the state seem to concur.
Finally, as Rosenstein appears to be targeted for removal, as early as this week, we share a new song by Ben Folds, recently published by Washington Post Magazine, inspired by a derisive name Trump is said to use when referring to the Deputy Attorney General: Mr. Peepers - The Ballad of Rod Rosenstein...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
The U.S. Supreme Court is not the only court where Republicans appear more than willing to steal seats that don't belong to them.
Rick Scott, Florida's Governor and Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, must not have much confidence in his own party holding onto control of the state's Executive Mansion after the November elections. He's now busy working to swipe the next Governor's power to make judicial appointments to the Sunshine State's Supreme Court, no matter who that Governor may be.
The terms of three of Florida's seven state Supreme Court Justices, Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince, and R. Fred Lewis --- all originally appointed by Democrats, leaving four GOP-appointed Justices on the bench --- will end on January 8, 2019. Scott's term in office ends two days earlier, at midnight, on January 6, 2019. Nonetheless, he wants control of who will fill those upcoming vacancies, even after he has left office.
On Sept. 11 this year, Scott directed the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (FSC JNC) to make its nominations to fill the prospective vacancies by November 10, 2018. The Commission has set an October 8 deadline for the filing of applications by prospective nominees.
That, even after Scott's own concession, in an earlier FL Supreme Court proceeding, that a governor's power to fill a judicial vacancy does not arise until after the vacancy occurs. The Governor's order also flatly defies the Florida electorate which, in 2014, rejected a GOP ballot initiative that would have amended the Florida constitution to permit outgoing governors to fill prospective vacancies before they actually occur.
The League of Women Voters, along with Common Cause, have now filed an emergency petition [PDF] with the Florida Supreme Court, seeking to prevent Scott from usurping his successor's power to fill prospective vacancies on the court.
While Scott is in a very tight "toss up" race for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, his state directive hints at what may be an attempt to stave off the potential impact of a possible blue wave at the polls this year. In Florida, that could result in Scott's party losing control of executive power in Tallahassee. Recent polling suggests a significant prospect that Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum could become the next Governor of Florida. Gillum currently leads Republican Ron Desantis, according to the RealClearPolitics average by 3.4% in polls taken between August 29 and September 16.
UPDATE 10/15/18: The Florida Supreme Court issued an order [PDF] in which it granted the emergency writ. It expressly ruled that the next governor will have the sole authority to fill the vacancies and that Gov. Scott "exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to fill these vacancies by November 10, 2018."
When they go to the polls on November 6, Florida voters will not only decide who will serve as their next governor. They will also indirectly determine who will be nominated to serve next three FL Supreme Court Justices.
More from Mark Joseph Stern, including a few caveats, here...
Three Senators who served on the Judiciary Committee in 1991, and heard the testimony of Dr. Anita Hill during the confirmation hearings for Justice Clarence Thomas, serve on it today. Can you name the third without looking? Hint: he's not a Republican. Thomas was confirmed 52-48 by the Senate in October of that year, with the votes of 10 conservative Democrats. Two Republicans, Bob Packwood of Oregon (LOL) and Jim Jeffords of Vermont, voted against Thomas.
Voting is now officially under way in the 2018 midterm general elections, as Early Voting finally began on Friday in Minnesota and South Dakota and, very shortly, in at least half a dozen other states around the country in advance of Election Day on November 6th. Voting, however, will not be nearly as simple and verifiable for voters in Georgia, as we discuss in some detail on today's BradCast. [Audio link to complete show is posted below.]
Meanwhile, as media continue to focus on the extraordinary allegation of sexual assault against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh (and Trump's new response to them), as made by Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, and whether or not she will appear to give testimony about it to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee next week, the continuing danger and toxic fallout from Hurricane Florence continues in both North and South Carolina a full week after the storm first made landfall. An urgent warning Thursday from Duke Energy about the imminent rupture of a giant holding pond reservoir where toxic coal ash waste is stored became a reality on Friday. At the same time, the human death toll from the storm rose to at least 42, with new evacuations called for in South Carolina on Friday due to still-rising rivers as thousands remained dislocated or without power in North Carolina.
Next, we move to the shameful situation in Georgia, just weeks out from the crucial midterm elections, where Sec. of State Brian Kemp --- the Trump-endorsed Republican who is running for Governor this year against Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams --- is allowing inaccurate voter registration forms, falsely instructing first-time voters that they must mail in proof of residence when registering, to be used across the state.
Even more disturbing is the fact that Peach State voters will be forced, once again, to vote on 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems on Election Day, despite a U.S. District Court Judge finding them this week to be "unverifiable" and featuring "serious vulnerabilities" which are "not just a theoretical, paranoid notion at this point," as defendants in the case, including Kemp, had argued in court. Nonetheless, in response to a motion filed by plaintiffs seeking to force the state to allow Election Day voters to use the same hand-marked paper ballots used for absentee voting for years across the state, Judge Amy Totenberg is allowing GA's unsecurable and unverifiable 16-year old Diebold touchscreen voting machines to be used yet again this November. In her ruling [PDF], she cites defendants' claims of "chaos" and forced poll closures they threatened would ensue if hand-marked paper ballots were ordered for use at polling places this year.
We're joined today by longtime Election Integrity advocate and one of the plaintiffs in the GA case, MARILYN MARKS of the Coalition for Good Governance, to discuss this week's ruling and Kemp's disingenuous defense of his indefensible voting systems.
"The defendants put the judge in a very difficult place because they essentially threatened that they would sabotage the election. They didn't really use those words, but they said, 'We're going to shut down early voting locations in Fulton County'. Fulton County [Atlanta] has 21 early voting locations. They said 'We'll go down to three'. In their briefing, they said they'd go down to one. They also said they may close Election Day polling places if she were to require them to go to a paper ballot," Marks tells me. "And so the vast majority of Georgia's voters are going to vote on what the judge has basically said is going to be an unconstitutional system."
"The court was already very well aware of the science, and she was quite aware of the lack of any effort, and lack of any science, and lack of any expert testimony put on by the defendants. So I think that her decision didn't rest on the science. It was this whole threat of chaos."
Moreover, she says, the state has also falsely claimed that counties were required to use the unverifiable touchscreen systems. "The state not only had been saying it was required by state law, but they had threatened the counties who began to recognize it wasn't required by state law, and that the counties, local authorities, have the ability, on their own, to go to paper ballots. The Secretary of State has been threatening them, telling them 'No, you do not have that authority.' They even told the press that they would punish counties that went to paper ballots."
While Marks, who is a Republican herself, reports the multi-partisan plaintiffs are justifiably disappointed in the court's ruling for the short term, she also details several key findings from the ruling which will be important to the continuing efforts both in this case and other federal challenges like it around the country. Among the favorable finding are that plaintiffs do, in fact, have Constitutional standing to challenge such voting systems in federal court, and that "further delay", according to Judge Totenberg, in moving the state to a verifiable voting system after this year's elections, is "not tolerable".
"The important thing here," Marks explains, is that the judge "said that we were likely to prevail on the merits as we move forward in this case, and our claims are related to constitutional claims. And that is what the scholars, the lawyers, the election advocates across the country are recognizing as such a very important finding in the ruling she has made here. That we are likely to prevail in our argument that this is an unconstitutional system, when the voters cannot rely on an auditable, verifiable system."
Marks also explains one moment from the hearing where she said she thought later: "Man, I'm glad Brad isn't here to hear this, or his head would have exploded." My head subsequently explodes when she relays the story and for much of the rest of my interview today.
While Abrams, Kemp's African-American opponent in the Gubernatorial election, is calling for voters to cast hand-marked paper absentee ballots this year to increase the likelihood of them being accurately tallied, Marks explains why she is not certain that is actually a better option for voters in the state. She details the Catch-22 that GA voters are once again facing, not unlike the Catch-22 Judge Totenberg said she found herself in while deciding how to rule on plaintiffs' motion this week.
And again, my head explodes...
On today's BradCast: While much of the media have turned away from the continuing --- and, in some cases, worsening --- disaster following Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas in order to focus on the fight over the U.S. Supreme Court (which we cover as well today), flood waters continue to rise, along with the storm's immediate death toll, and new toxic threats and emergencies continue to develop.
On the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria's deadly landfall in Puerto Rico --- where some 3,000 U.S. citizens died from the storm and its aftermath --- we're joined by author and disaster historian SCOTT KNOWLES of Drexel University and the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. Knowles says "Trump is wrong," regarding his denial last week of the startling death toll from Maria. He explains the well-established methodology behind its determination, while noting the response "is deeply political. There are winners and losers in the count." Thus, he notes, a similar denial of years of death and disease for first responders after 9/11 and the PTSD suffered by veterans years after wars have ended. "I think we have to talk very clearly and very honestly about the impact of disasters not being confined just to the moment in which they occur."
He offers some of the political and civic history behind focusing on such natural disasters (as Trump and others do) as singular, limited events, not unlike the type of nuclear attack which the federal government set about preparing for in the 1950s and 60s. That work, as Knowles described in a recent New York Times op-ed, gave rise to the birth of social science disaster research. In the 1990s, he explains, that resulted in a "re-think" about what the Federal Emergency Disaster Agency (FEMA) could accomplish under President Bill Clinton, in order to focus on "long term thinking of preparation and community-based preparation" for major disasters, only to see the Agency revert back to its focus on emergency recovery following the 9/11 attacks. "September 11 turned the clock back to 1951," he argues.
As to lessons learned from more recent disasters, such as Hurricanes Harvey and Maria last year and Florence this year, Knowles cites the U.S. construction industry as one of the most politically powerful at the state and local level, helping to ensure that well-understood threats, like those linked to the impacts of global warming, too often take a back seat to commercial development. "The fact is that the most powerful lobby in any statehouse across the country is the construction industry. They call it the 'FIRE sector' --- finance, insurance, and real estate. I call it the 'finance-construction complex.' There are very, very strong, deep-pocketed interests in building, and that's across the country," he tells me. "Those rules are handled almost entirely at the state and local level. So federal policy can change, but it will still have a lot of trouble telling Georgia, the state of North Carolina, the state of South Carolina, what they can and can't allow along the coastline, or in California, what they can and can't allow along a wildfire corridor."
Knowles also sees "an emerging consensus in emergency management" that we are likely to soon see proposed changes to certain disaster warnings and metrics, such as the Saffir-Simpson scale that categorizes hurricanes from 1 to 5. He argues the scale "is now in the way of effective risk communication," as it has become increasing unhelpful and arguably counter-productive for the public in appreciating the real and immediate threats posed by storms in a climate changed world.
"We have to get very serious about the issue of environmental protection and not just acting like disasters are just aberrant things that are only going to happen once in awhile," says Knowles. "The coal ash and the animal waste in North Carolina --- that's a huge environmental nightmare, but you can find a nightmare like that waiting in all fifty states."
Next, an update and a few thoughts on the battle over U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and whether Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused him of sexual assault in the 1980s, will testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee next week. Ford's attorney now says she is willing to do so --- though not by the Monday deadline arbitrarily set by Senate Republicans --- presuming "terms that are fair and which ensure her safety." For his part, Judge Kavanaugh has reportedly spent three days this week attending practice sessions at the White House for his response to the Committee. But, if he is completely innocent of the charges as he claims, why is so much practice actually necessary? We discuss.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the Green News Report with the latest on the growing toxic toll of Hurricane Florence, the long road of recovery that lies ahead, and this week's announcement by Trump's Interior Department of still more rollbacks to methane regulations, despite the impact of the greenhouse gas on climate change and the natural disasters like Florence that it helps to super charge...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Florence floodwaters pose a toxic public health threat; North Carolina begins facing the long road of recovery; PLUS: Trump Interior Department formally rolls back still more methane regulations... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 5 Trump policies that will make future flooding worse; Why America should rethink how it talks about-and ranks-tropical storms; Jerry Brown: Trump's 'gross ignorance' main obstacle in climate change fight; Air pollution harms unborn babies. Now we might know why; Mosquitoes are eating plastic. Why that's a big problem; Trump administration levies new tariffs on Chinese solar inverters; The rush for better batteries; Clean energy weathers Hurricane Florence; 57 Detroit schools have lead, copper contamination in drinking water; What would it take to make recycling a national issue?; 'Treating Protest As Terrorism': US plans crackdown on KXL activists... PLUS: How we define a calamity determines how we plan for and respond to them. Or not.... and much, MUCH more! ...
On today's BradCast: Except for our Florence coverage, it's all about November 6th, including the GOP's rush to seat another alleged sexual predator on the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show follows below.]
First up today, a quick update on the still-ongoing disaster of Hurricane Florence, with the human death toll rising to 37 and the poultry and pork death tolls in the millions, after three feet of rain fell on parts of the Carolinas, thousands remain in shelters, and the environmental disasters --- including toxic human waste and animal waste now streaming into swelling rivers and floodwaters --- may just be beginning.
Next, the reason why Republicans are in such a panic to minimize the allegations of attempted rape by Brett Kavanaugh, their nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, in any way they possibly can in advance of the quickly arriving November 6th midterm elections. That minimization includes avoiding both time and an FBI investigation at any cost. The White House could have already requested one, which Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) insisted was "the very right thing to do" --- at least during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the 1991 sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill against then-nominee, now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Then, you may recall at the beginning of the year I reported on a strange conversation I had on Twitter with Alabama's Sec. of State John Merrill regarding the state's voting systems, resulting in Merrill blocking me on the social media site. It wasn't the first time Merrill had blocked election experts or journalists or his own constituents. But, even after a federal court later in the year found that Donald Trump was violating the First Amendment rights of his constituents by blocking them on Twitter, Merrill still refused to unblock anybody. A query to his office about that, just before the state's May primary elections, resulted in a bizarre and unhinged exchange via phone and email with the Secretary. Today, Merrill is being sued by the ACLU of Alabama for violating his constituents' First Amendment rights for blocking them and, of course, that means that AL taxpayers will likely be on the hook to pay for the so-called "conservative" Merrill's knowingly unconstitutional behavior.
Also, speaking of transparency and the rule of law, the U.S. Supreme Court, just weeks before the 2018 midterms, has allowed a lower court ruling on "dark money" to take immediate effect, meaning that some political non-profits will now have to disclose the names of wealthy donors who spend more than $200 per year in hopes of buying elections. The Koch-sponsored hit squads, including their ringers on the FEC, are none too happy it.
Finally, we've got some good news for voters in California, where the Governor has now signed a bill requiring election officials to notify voters when local officials believe signatures on Vote-by-Mail ballots don't match the one on their registration file. Such voters will now be notified at least eight days before any results are certified, so they have a chance to fix the problem, which could happen for many reasons, before the ballot is simply discarded (as tens of thousands have routinely been tossed in previous elections).
Also, good news for Democrats in Wisconsin, where the "gold standard" of Wisconsin polling outfits finds divisive, two-term Republican Gov. Scott Walker now trailing Democrat Tony Evers in this year's Gubernatorial race.
And, in Kansas, yet another top former Republican official has endorsed Laura Kelly, the Democratic candidate for Governor, in her race against controversial GOP nominee Sec. of State Kris Kobach...
On today's BradCast, things are not looking good for Republicans and Donald Trump's second nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court. [Audio link to show is posted below.]
But, first up, before we get to our guest today, a quick update on the damage wrought by Hurricane Florence on the East Coast and the huge expected costs for rebuilding that is being exacerbated by Trump's trade wars, including his announcement on Monday that the Administration is imposing a 10% tax (which may be raised to 25% next year) on another $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. That, home construction experts in the Carolinas charge, will raise the costs of rebuilding and repairs following the damage from the record rainfall and flooding of Florence, as it continues to wreak havoc and death on the East Coast.
Then, late last night, a federal court in Georgia issued a ruling, following a full hearing last week, on the Motion for Preliminary Injunction filed by the non-partisan Coalition for Good Governance, seeking to force the state to switch from the unsecurable, 16-year old, 100% unverifiable touchscreen voting systems used in all precincts across the state, to the hand-marked paper ballot systems already used by every county for absentee voters. While U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg made clear [PDF] she was very sympathetic to the concerns of the plaintiffs --- and that they have the legal standing to sue --- she appears to have bought into the defendants argument that a switch to paper ballots this late before the November midterms would result in chaos at polling places.
Next, the Republican panic to save the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh before the November midterms continues to evolve by the hour, on the heels of the revelation of the allegation by Palo Alto University psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford that Kavanaugh and a friend by the name of Mark Judge sexually assaulted her during a party more than thirty years ago when they were all high school students. Kavanaugh denies the allegation completely, says neither the attempted rape nor anything like it ever happened, and that he was never at the party in question (even though Ford hasn't identified the specific party).
We're joined by Salon and Hullaballoo's HEATHER DIGBY PARTON today to try and make sense of the charges, the GOP's ham-handed response to it, Kavanaugh's ugly history as a Republican operative, and the newly announced hearing scheduled by Senate Republicans in the Judiciary Committee for next Monday. The Committee's chair Chuck Grassley (R-IA) insists that only Kavanaugh and Ford will be allowed to testify, even before there has been an FBI investigation of the charges and, apparently, before Grassley even bothered to hear back from Ford as to whether she's willing or able to show up.
"The idea that they're saying, 'Oh, we have to hurry up, there's a deadline on this,' it's an arbitrary one," says Parton. "And they're trying to say now that 'this accuser, this alleged victim, if she doesn't show up at a moment's notice, sorry, there's nothing we can do about it, what choice do we have but to put an accused sexual assaulter on the Supreme Court?' It's absurd on its face."
With Kavanaugh's complete denials, the matter is no longer really even about a sexual assault 36 years ago. It's about a nominee for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land seemingly lying about it today. Can this nomination even survive at this point...much less make it to Monday?! We discuss.
Finally today, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report with more news on the ongoing fallout from the deadly Florence, the even larger and deadlier Typhoon Mangkhut currently ravaging The Philippines and China, and an update on the chain of natural gas pipeline explosions in dozens of homes near Boston late last week...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Florence continues to wreak havoc and death on the East Coast; The strongest storm of the year (so far) slams into the Philippines and Hong Kong; PLUS: Boston-area residents slowly return home after natural gas explosions destroy dozens of homes... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): The Unequal Burden of Climate Change: Hurricane Florence and Super Typhoon Mangkhut laid bare the disproportionate consequences for poor communities; 5 things that must change after Hurricane Florence; 100% renewable energy is wildly popular. Utilities are struggling to deal with it; EPA administrator denies states' request to stop cross-state coal plant pollution; 8 ways that EPA's helping the coal industry; Watchdog: EPA asbestos protection for schoolchildren lagging; Feds allow construction of Atlantic Coast Pipeline to resume; Oldest nuclear plant in US closes, unable to compete... PLUS: Germany launches world's first hydrogen-powered train... and much, MUCH more! ...
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