Also: COVID rising again before holidays; OK clemency for Julius Jones...
By Brad Friedman on 11/18/2021, 6:34pm PT  

Justice isn't gonna demand itself, apparently. So we're happy (if that's the right word here) to continue doing it ourselves on today's BradCast, along with a bit of help from an actual, longtime homicide prosecutor. [Audio link to today's full show is posted below this summary.]

But, first up, the mess the perps have left us with. New COVID cases are on the rise again across much of the country in recent weeks, even as the death rate is falling. But deaths tend to lag infections, which has officials concerned as we head into the holiday season once again. We take the opportunity to catch up on where the nation is in that regard, with recommendations for all to get booster shots as soon as feasible, and fresh, empirical, conclusive evidence that masking up is still the best non-pharmaceutical defense against the disease for both the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike.

In slightly brighter news, of a sort, Oklahoma's Republican Governor actually did the right thing on Thursday, if only at the last minute, by granting clemency to 41-year old Julius Jones who had been scheduled to be killed by state the today for a crime that occurred more than 20 years ago. Just hours before he was to be put to death, Gov. Kevin Stitt converted his sentence to life in prison for a murder that Jones has insisted he had nothing to do with. His case gained notoriety following a three-part documentary produced by Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis that aired on ABC in 2018. The clemency was also appropriate after the state had paused its capitol punishments following horrifically flawed executions by lethal injection in 2014 and 2015. After restarting them last month, a 60-year old prisoner convulsed and vomited as he was killed.

But speaking of murder by the government, a week or two ago on The BradCast we were joined by our friend, author and progressive talk show host Thom Hartmann, to discuss his case for mass second degree murder against Donald Trump for what he described as the disgraced former President's purposeful mishandling of the COVID pandemic in 2020. Thom's case is largely predicated on evidence revealing that, after initially taking the coronavirus seriously, the Administration changed course once they came to believe the disease was far more fatal against minorities who lived in blue states --- in other words, those who were unlikely to vote for him last year anyway.

Since we spoke with Hartmann, there has been additional damning evidence unearthed against the Trump Administration's COVID response, released by the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, based on testimony from a number of both current and former Administration public health officials. The new information from those officials includes testimony, for example, from then White House COVID Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who reportedly believes that at least 130,000 lives could have been saved, had the the Administration taken appropriate action. Other officials have reportedly detailed how the White House blocked the CDC from sharing health guidance with the public while officials were even instructed to delete emails regarding directives on the pandemic response.

One of the maddening questions that arose during our discussion with Hartmann was why it seemed to be falling to a couple of radio hosts to even be building this public, legal case of accountability for mass murder by Trump in the first place. Where were the state prosecutors? Where was the Dept. of Justice and Attorney General Merrick Garland? Were we completely off-base in even suggesting criminal liability for mass homicide by a former President? That, as Hartmann conceded that he was, by and large, taking his best guess, as a layman, at whether charges for homicide by Trump should consist of first or second degree murder or something else entirely.

I heard from a number of folks after that program with thoughts on our conversation, including from several attorneys, two of whom had somewhat differing views on Trump's criminal liability. One suggested that, indeed, second degree murder charges seemed to fit the crime, while another felt that Trump had no direct culpability in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Or, at least, that it would likely be very difficult to prove any such culpability. We share the thoughts from both today.

We also heard from others who noted there was, in fact, someone else making a public case to bring homicide charges against Trump for some time. Specifically, we were pointed to longtime Washington D.C. homicide prosecutor, Glenn Kirschner, who now has his own podcast called Justice Matters. Kirschner spent some thirty years prosecuting murder cases, eventually becoming D.C.'s chief homicide prosecutor. On today's program, we share a clip from a podcast he released last December, shortly after revelations that the Administration had largely given up on trying to stop the spread of COVID and were, in fact, hoping that it would spread widely in order to eventually achieve herd immunity. That, even as infectious disease experts believed at the time that reaching herd immunity would take years and, literally, millions of American deaths before enough of the population would have enough immunity to halt the spread.

At the time, Kirschner used his podcast to explain what he saw as a clear cut case of what he described as "criminally negligent" or "criminally reckless homicide" (noting that the crime has different names in various jurisdictions). He explained how both Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence, who headed up the White House Coronavirus Task Force at the time, were "criminally responsible for needless coronavirus deaths" by the end of last year and the deaths of some 350,000 Americans at that point.

In his December 2020 podcast, Kirschner shared his belief, as a former prosecutor, that both Trump and Pence met the tests for such charges. Today, we continue to ask if any current prosecutors --- whether at the state or federal level --- are actually working to build such a case. And if not, why not?

Finally, we're joined by Desi Doyen for our last Green News Report before next week's Thanksgiving holiday. (We'll be taking the week off in desperate need of recharging our batteries and making up for family time lost during the worst of the pandemic last year.) Among the stories covered on today's GNR: disastrous extreme flooding in the Pacific Northwest on the heels of disastrous and deadly extreme heat in the same region just months ago; the Administration's controversial court-ordered oil and gas lease sale in the Gulf of Mexico; and President Biden's trip to Detroit to this week to promote both his new infrastructure plan and new, American-made electric vehicles...

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