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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
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...

Right to same sex marriage in CA stayed pending filing of a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/5/2012 11:11am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal issued a terse decision denying a petition for rehearing of the earlier 2-1 9th Circuit panel decision in Perry vs. Brown [PDF] in which the majority ruled that CA Proposition 8's effort to strip away the previously recognized right of same sex couples to marry was unconstitutional.

The court order noted: "The matter failed to receive a majority of the votes of non-recused active judges in favor of en banc consideration." (En banc essentially means 'by the full 9th Circuit', as opposed to a three judge panel.)

The order added, however: "The mandate is stayed for ninety days pending the filing of a petition for writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court. If such a petition is filed, the stay shall continue until final disposition by the Supreme Court."

This essentially means that, despite the determination that Prop 8 is unconstitutional, same sex couples in CA cannot effectuate their right to marry until either 90 days have lapsed, or longer if a Supreme Court challenge is filed.

As The BRAD BLOG previously averred, U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Stephen Reinhardt's earlier majority opinion in this case was "so narrow and so tightly crafted to meet the criteria of a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, that it minimized the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide to hear the case, let alone reverse the decision."

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By Ernest A. Canning on 6/3/2012 12:28pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Reports by the Miami Herald and by Democracy Now report that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has "ordered Florida...to end a controversial voter purge that's primarily targeted Latino, Democratic and independent-minded voters" (see video below) may not be technically accurate.

Both refer to the two-page letter submitted by T. Christian Herren, the chief lawyer of the DOJ's Voting Rights Division, to FL officials which suggested that the purge, ordered by Republican Gov. Rick Scott under the unsubstantiated pretense that the state had thousands of non-citizens registered to vote, violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because FL had not sought preclearance for the new voter roll purge either from the DOJ or a federal court. Herren, as the Miami Herald article observed, demanded that FL officials "advise whether the State intends to cease the practice," but stopped short of issuing an actual "order" that FL immediately cease and desist.

Election officials across the state have confirmed that the Governor's purge list includes hundreds, if not thousands, of legally registered U.S. citizens who are improperly identified as "non-citizens" to be removed from the rolls.

Only five of Florida's 67 counties are "covered jurisdictions" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That means that while Supervisors of Elections in some counties had vowed not to carry out Scott's purge, others, like Seminal County's Republican Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, signified their intent to carry out what amounts to a new form of GOP "caging lists" in which those voters who do not respond to official letters in a designated fashion are automatically purged from the eligible voter rolls. On Friday, an attorney from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, representing all 67 counties, sent a memo to officials recommending they do not carry out the scrub as called for by the state.

The DOJ letter to FL also noted that the voter roll purge across the entire state appears to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which bans the removal of voters from the rolls in the 90 days prior to a federal election. Florida is set to hold its federal primary election on August 14th, making May 16th the last legal day for the type of voter roll maintenance the state now claims to be carrying out.

Even assuming that Herren's letter to the state amounts to a DOJ "order," it may not be enough to stop what The Advancement Project estimated in its May 17 letter to Herren [PDF] could ultimately produce an illegal purge of as many as 180,000 otherwise eligible voters based on a flawed, eleventh hour pre-election effort to match voter rolls against the FL driver's license data base.

After receiving the letter from the DOJ, Florida Dept. of State Spokesperson Chris Cates said they intended to continue with their purge anyway. "Bottom line is," Cates told Think Progress, "we are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot."

The purge has already ensnared U.S. citizens like Bill Internicola, the 91-year old, Brooklyn-born, World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and Archibald Bowyer, another 91-year old WWII vet who has been citizen since the age of 2, and who received his letter from the state warning he would be purged just as his wife had died.

Cates has marginalized such incidents as "a handful of people [who] have been inconvenienced.”

To halt the purge, groups like the ACLU and the DOJ may need to initiate a federal lawsuit in which they seek yet another preliminary injunction, like the one issued late Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle in League of Women Voters v. Browning [PDF]. That ruling, as we reported on Thursday, spoke to a different aspect of this year's GOP voter suppression effort in FL. Hinkle's ruling ordered an official federal injunction on the draconian restrictions imposed on voter registration workers by the FL GOP, which had earlier led to groups like the League of Women Voters of Florida being forced to cancel their voter registration drives for the first time in some 70 years.

Florida has until June 6th to official respond to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

* * *

Video of Democracy Now segment on the DOJ's response to the FL purge follows...

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Come November, CA voters may be forced to choose between two Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/30/2012 1:19pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Recently, The BRAD BLOG criticized the undemocratic features of the new "Top Two" open primary system (aka the "Cajun Primary") in California. The new system, approved via a ballot initiative in 2010, changes the state's primary to system to allow a single, open primary in which the two candidates who receive the highest numbers of votes, go on to face each other in the November general election even if the combined totals of the 'Top Two' do not amount to a majority of votes cast in the primary.

In our critique, we cited the race for the newly created CA-26 Congressional seat where, despite a Democratic Party voter registration advantage, come November, voters may be forced to choose between a 'Tea Party' Republican and a stealth Republican who changed her party registration to independent just days prior to the candidate filing deadline because the two are matched against four Democrats on the June 5 "Top Two" primary ballot.

Our analysis drew criticism in comments from some right-leaning readers claiming our critique was simply a case of sour grapes by a progressive author. But, the state's upcoming U.S. Senate race reveals that the undemocratic potential of the 'Cajun Primary' cuts both ways; that there is a distinct possibility that all Californians, come November, will be forced to choose between the incumbent corporate Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, and the Occupy Wall Street-connected, computer scientist David Levitt (see video below), who is also a Democrat...

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CA-26 House race exemplifies anti-democratic potential of 2010's voter-approved 'Top Two' open primary system...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/23/2012 1:31pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

When the new Congressional map was first produced by the non-partisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission, CA's GOP leadership expressed concern that it might lose up to five of its nineteen Congressional seats in the bargain.

Although its legal challenge to redistricting was rejected by the CA Supreme Court (a majority of whom were appointed by Republican Governors), the June 5, 2012 "Top Two" open primary (aka "Cajun Primary") contests, approved by a 2010 ballot initiative, may allow for GOP pickups, even in areas where Republican voters represent the minority.

One example is in the newly created CA-26 Congressional District, which reveals a potential formula by which the GOP can overcome adverse party registration numbers --- in that case, 40% (D), 36% (R), 19% (I) --- in order to seize a Congressional seat.

Because four Democrats are competing in the CA-26 primary, long suffering progressives, including this writer, who had previously been forced to cast a protest vote in the now defunct, heavily gerrymandered CA-24 District of the outgoing, extreme right-wing Republican Elton Gallegly, may awake on June 6 to the reality that, come next November, they will be forced to choose between a 'Tea Party' Republican and a County Supervisor who "changed her voter registration...from Republican to 'no party preference' in preparation for her bid for Congress"...

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Robert Reich explains 'The Magic of Private Equity'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/15/2012 9:19pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

We covered the subject of wealth acquisition by the likes of Charles Koch and Mitt Romney in "Wealth vs. Democracy and the 2012 Presidential Campaign" --- "outsourcing, manipulations of the financial markets, of government and our laws" --- not as character flaws but as variants of the behaviors one can anticipate from their class.

As we approach the Fall campaign, we can anticipate a propaganda blitz that is based on variations of a line from the song "If I Were a Rich Man" of Fiddler on the Roof --- "When you're rich, they think you really know."

No doubt we will hear, time and again, that Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney's wealth acquisition is a testament to his business savvy that will equate to jobs creation. Against that backdrop is this short video (below) in which Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, provides a succinct rebuttal to the jobs scam canard...

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Despite legal setbacks, hard right still working to strike minority voting rights via state Constitutional Amendment...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/11/2012 3:41pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Good news for democracy. Bad news for the GOP deceivers and the billionaire sociopaths, like the Koch brothers, who fund them. Missouri's courts have shown that their state's nickname, "The Show-Me State," is apropos.

In Weinschenk v. State (2006), the MO Supreme Court struck down a GOP-enacted polling place photo ID law because it violated the Equal Protection clause of the MO Constitution which treats voting as a "fundamental right." It recognized a compelling governmental interest in preventing voter fraud, but observed that "the Photo-ID Requirement is intended to prevent only impersonation of a registered voter and will not affect absentee ballot or registration fraud."

As the GOP could not muster evidence of in-person impersonation, they failed to establish that their 2006 Photo ID law was narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Court, in Weinschenk, based on the facts presented, also determined that the 2006 GOP Photo ID law operated as an unconstitutional poll tax, thereby violating the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But since when have Republicans hell-bent on undermining our system of electoral democracy let a few negative court rulings or fundamental Constitutional rights stand in their way?...

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As in similar Wisconsin law, restriction on voting rights appears to violate PA state constitution's 'fundamental right' to vote...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/3/2012 12:21pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.

The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."

There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.

PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.

Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.

For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...

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Presumptive GOP nominee signs up Nixon's hatchet man to help pack the courts with Federalist Society extremists for a generation...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/27/2012 12:58pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."

"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.

With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.

The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...

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Is the evil, that many cite as indicative of the 'failure' of the 'War on Drugs,' actually a perverse indices of its success?
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/20/2012 8:05am PT  

Guest Editorial Series by Ernest A. Canning

Even a glimpse at the statistics leads knowledgeable sources, like Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, to describe the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy."

"Over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion," Amy Goodman reported on Democracy Now! "Yet drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever."

And that's just in the U.S.

According to the United Nations' 2011 World Drug Report [PDF], "in 2009, between 149 and 272 million people...aged 15-64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year." The UN estimated that Cannabis was "consumed by between 125 and 203 million people worldwide in 2009," adding:

Drug traffickers and organized criminals are forming transnational networks, sourcing drugs on one continent, trafficking them across another, and marketing them in a third. In some countries and regions, the value of the illicit drug trade far exceeds the size of the legitimate economy.

But Nadelmann's description of the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy" is derived from the supposition that the 'War on Drugs', at least here in the U.S., was actually formulated with a desire to suppress or eliminate drug abuse.

In PART 1 of this series, we examined the question of whether the U.S. Government's effort to challenge legalization of marijuana in California and elsewhere was akin to shutting down the competition, given the CIA's long-documented history of profiting from the world-wide drug trade. In PART 2 we posited that an end to the 'War on Drugs' could deliver a devastating blow to the bottom line of American corporations who have come to depend upon the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and its huge pool of slave laborers --- most, non-violent drug offenders.

So now, we must examine the hypothesis that, if accurate, should rock us all to our core.

What if the horrific consequences of the worldwide drug trade, which, per the UN 2011 World Drug Report, includes an annual death toll of 200,000, are precisely what President Nixon and the covert branches of U.S. Empire had in mind when formulating a policy that would enhance the domination of the 1% over the 99%? Are we now living in a form of Aldus Huxley's Brave New World in which "Failure is Success" can be added to the three slogans from George Orwell's 1984 --- "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength" --- a world in which a vote against legalization is actually a vote in favor of illicit distribution by organized crime and their allies in the CIA?...

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Decision coincides with ALEC's announcement that they are abandoning Photo ID restriction advocacy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/18/2012 2:34pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two one-sentence orders declining to hear both appeals filed by Republican state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen in two different polling place Photo ID cases. In both, judges in lower courts had blocked the controversial voting rights restrictions passed by Republicans last year, finding that the law violated the state Constitution's guaranteed right to vote.

Republicans had hoped to overturn the temporary injunction placed on the law by Dane County Circuit David Judge Flanagan in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker and the permanent injunction issued by Dane County Circuit Judge Richard Neiss a week later in League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Network, Inc. v. Walker.

The issue of a permanent injunction in the NAACP case is being heard this week in Judge Flanagan's court. The evidence included the videotaped testimony of 84-year old, home-born Ruthelle Frank, an elected member of the Brokaw Village Board who has voted in every election since 1948. Frank now faces disenfranchisement because her lack of a birth certificate prevents her from obtaining one of the "free" photo ID forms needed to cast a vote under the now enjoined law, unless she is willing to spend more than $200 for both a birth certificate and the necessary changes to state birth records to correct typos on her name in the state registry.

Van Hollen, whose office said it was "surprised and disappointed" by the Supreme Court's decision, had sought an immediate stay of the injunctions on the grounds of perceived irreparable harm if the upcoming recall elections were conducted without his party's new, draconian Photo ID restrictions in place.

The WI Supreme Court decision this week coincides with an announcement by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), in response to "a massive corporate exodus," that it is abandoning its effort to see that state legislatures pass its "model" polling place photo ID restrictions...

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Would legalization disrupt the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex and its pool of slave laborers?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/18/2012 7:05am PT  

Guest Editorial Series by Ernest A. Canning

This is the second of our three-part series advancing the hypothesis that one must turn to economics to make sense of the so-called 'War on Drugs' and the U.S. government's seemingly irrational obsession with shutting down something as innocuous as medicinal marijuana dispensaries.

PART 1 examined both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. It explored the extent to which the so-called 'War on Drugs' has been used as cover for the CIA's covert import of narcotics, both into the U.S. and other nations, in order to fund the mischief the Agency engages in on behalf of U.S. Empire. It postulated that the government’s opposition to controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse is the product of an illicit supplier shutting down the competition.

Here, we will examine the profitability of the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and the extent to which the world's largest prison population provides a ready source of slave labor for some of the world's largest corporations…

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Would legalization reduce CIA access to covert funding?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/16/2012 6:05am PT  

Guest Editorial Series by Ernest A. Canning

How does one explain it?

The Eric Holder Department of Justice (DOJ) is faced with massive banking and Wall Street fraud that nearly brought the world's economic system to its knees, yet no bankers are prosecuted. It is confronted by environmental crimes that have poisoned our air, water and even the food we eat, yet, for the most part, those crimes go unpunished. It has its hands full fending off voter suppression laws concocted by a billionaire-funded, subversive organization, which is also responsible for deadly "stand your ground" laws and an assault on the right of citizens to engage in collective bargaining.

Yet, the DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) make it a priority to target California medical marijuana dispensaries and to raid Oaksterdam University, a school founded by Richard Lee, a legalization activist who offers training in the cultivation and use of medical marijuana. It does so even though, in 1996, CA voters, by a wide margin, passed an initiative that "allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation...to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use." The raids were also made against the backdrop of polls showing that a majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana.

In this three-part series, we will advance the hypothesis that this seemingly irrational obsession with busting medicinal marijuana dispensaries and fending off legalization of even the most innocuous of drugs, Cannabis, can only be understood in the context of U.S. Empire and the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex.

In this first part of the series, we examine both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. We touch upon the extent to which the so-called 'War on Drugs' has been used as cover for the CIA's covert import of narcotics, both into the U.S. and other nations, in order to fund the mischief the Agency engages in on behalf of U.S. Empire. That operation, evidence strongly suggests, continues to this day.

At the core of that hypothesis is the question as to whether an end to the phony 'War on Drugs' and its replacement by controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse would cut off a key, illicit source of covert CIA funding...

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UPDATE: Call to end 'corporate personhood' passes Vermont Assembly...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/14/2012 1:39pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Ernest A. Canning

On Wednesday, by a bi-partisan vote of 26-3, the Vermont state Senate passed a resolution "calling for an amendment to the [U.S.] Constitution that corporations are not people and money is not speech and can be regulated in political campaigns" according to advocacy group, Move to Amend.

A majority of Senate Republicans joined with all of the Democrats in voting to approve the measure. The three nay votes came from Republicans after similar resolutions were passed in March by 64 different communities in Vermont.

Move to Amend observed that the Green Mountain State's Senate resolution goes much further than similar resolutions passed in Hawaii and New Mexico, which sought only to overturn the infamous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF]. (The CA State Assembly also passed a resolution last month to overturn Citizens United).

In 2010, President Barack Obama blasted Citizens United as "devastating to the public interest." During his 2010 State of the Union Address, the President said the Court's decision would "open the floodgates for special interests --- including foreign corporations --- to spend without limit in our elections."

However, the President has, as yet, not offered a rejoinder to the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney, by squarely stating that "corporations are not people!"

If the President followed Vermont's lead, would it portend to a Democratic landslide in November? Would the SCOTUS, faced with the prospect of a Constitutional Amendment that would put an end to corporate personhood altogether, feel pressured to either overrule or, at a minimum, curtail the reach of Citizens United?...

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Powerful corporate lobbying syndicate's 'privatized legislative system' said to undermine state's public institutions, rule of law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/3/2012 3:37pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The War for Wisconsin continues.

In one of the latest Battles for the Badger State, Brendan Fischer of the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) filed a broad-based ethics complaint [PDF] with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B) charging that 43 Republican state legislators are in violation of both the state's ethics and lobbying laws. The named respondents in the March 23 complaint include three Republican Senators, Scott L. Fitzgerald, Van H. Wanggard and Terry Moulton, who are now facing recall elections.

The complaint alleges that lawmakers now serving in the Wisconsin state legislature violated state ethics laws by accepting corporate lobbyist-funded "scholarships", in order "to attend meetings of the American Legislative Council (ALEC)" and that many of them failed to list receipt of monies from the ALEC scholarship fund on their 2011 Statement of Economic Interests, as required by state law. In several instances, the complaint also asserts, legislators received prohibited "gifts" from corporations and their lobbyists in violation of Wisconsin ethics and lobbying laws.

The CMD complaint goes on to argue that the ALEC legislative "Task Force" system, in which "ALEC legislators and corporate lobbyists meet behind closed doors on 'model' legislation," violates Wisconsin's Open Meeting Laws. The serious charge speaks to the extent to which corporate power has not merely undermined but supplanted the very essence of "representative democracy"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 3/25/2012 6:05am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In Wisconsin, two Dane County Circuit Court judges, David Flanagan and Richard Niess both issued injunctions against the state GOP's polling place photo ID restriction ("Act 23") --- Flanagan's temporary, Niess' permanent --- after finding that the law was in direct violation of the WI state constitution's guaranteed right to vote.

Immediately after the first of those two injunctions, issued by Judge Flanagan in Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP v. Walker, the WI GOP filed an ethics complaint with the WI Judicial Commission, alleging that the judge had violated the WI Code of Judicial Conduct because he had signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker (R) and failed to disclose that fact before issuing his ruling.

However, when Flanagan's temporary injunction was promptly followed not only by Neiss' permanent injunction one week later, but by a subsequent refusal by an intermediate WI appellate court to stay the temporary injunction, the hard-right, operating under another right-wing billionaire front group, the Landmark Legal Foundation, filed ethics complaints against 29 WI judges who also signed recall petitions.

If you can't beat 'em, hit 'em with ethics violations complaints...

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