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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, May 5, 2015
'Free Speech' Versus 'Hate Speech': 'BradCast' 5/4/15
Brad and comedian/author Jimmy Dore continue the debate they've had since 'Charlie Hebdo', following another 'Mohammed cartoon' shooting in TX; Plus: FEC dysfunction & more...
Sunday Toons: Just Us Edition
Broken justice system; Marriage equality at SCOTUS; One of the best 2016 toons we've ever seen; and wingnuts over Texas...
The Man Who Punked Rush Limbaugh: 'BradCast' 5/1/15
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Bernie Sanders Versus the 'Democracy Deficit'
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Rep. Alan Grayson Talks Sanders, Hillary, Democrats, TPP and Citizens United: 'BradCast' 4/30/15
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'Green News Report' 4/30/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Sen. Sanders enters the 2016 race; Thanks to fossil fuels, CA still has nation's dirtiest air; Extremely hot days caused by global warming; PLUS: Pope v. RW Heartland Institute...
Previous GNRs: 4/28/15 - 4/21/15 - Archives...
It's Not Just Baltimore & Bernie Jumps In:
'BradCast' 4/29/15
And our listener callers have plenty to say about both on today's very lively show...
Gyrocopter Guy and Why He Did It!; Baltimore Riots and Reason: 'BradCast' 4/28/15
Guest: Doug Hughes who landed his gyrocopter at the U.S. Capitol to bring attention to campaign finance reform...
'Green News Report' 4/28/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Devastation and rescue in Nepal after quake; March 2015 hottest March on record; Sardines crash in the Pacific; PLUS: Fighting climate change with the power of poo...
Previous GNRs: 4/21/15 - 4/23/15 - Archives...
Daniel Ellsberg on 'Obama's War on Whistleblowers':
BradCast 4/27/15
The legendary 'Pentagon Papers' whistleblower joins us for a fascinating discussion; PLUS: Baltimore violence; Nepal earthquake; MORE...
Sunday Toons: Free Trade Edition
BRAD BLOG's toon curator 'PDiddie' wonders who's buying and who's selling? And so are a lot of this week's selected cartoonists...
The Daily Show With Brad Friedman!
Okay, it's not the Daily Show, but beginning Monday, April 27, we'll be producing The BradCast five days a week for a while...
SCOTUS Nixes Drug Searches at Routine Traffic Stops
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'Green News Report' 4/23/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Oklahoma finally admits fracking truth about earthquakes; Fines and accountability for spills and deadly explosions; PLUS: Enviros push back at TPP trade deal...
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Letter to the Editor of the Moment: 'One of Four'
No, North Carolina (and Texas and Tennessee and South Carolina) Photo ID voting restrictions are NOT the same as those 'in 34 other states', Patrick Gannon...
'Green News Report' 4/21/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP Gulf Disaster, 5 years later; For Earth Day, Obama pushes again for climate action; Jan-March 2015 hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Jeb thinks climate change is a thing...
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Updates in Judge Mark Fuller 'Wife Beating' Cast
Criminal charges dismissed as expected; More testimony heard by 11th Circuit panel; Senate seeks update; Calls for impeachment persist...
Sunday Toons of the Moment: Knives Are Out
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Ohio and ACLU Announce Legal Settlement to Restore Some Early Voting Hours
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'Green News Report' 4/16/15
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War is the Default: KPFK 'BradCast'
For mainstream media, war is now peace and more militarism is 'mellowing out'. Brad explains. Plus, much more, including more 'ObamaCare' lies & great callers!...
Sunday Toons: Hospital to the Right
After taking apart the Ted Cruz campaign logo, 'PDiddie' says turnabout is fair play and takes a look at Hillary's new, and already much-aligned, campaign logo...
Lottery Computer Hacked - But Partisans and Profiteers Still Want Internet Voting?!
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'Green News Report' 4/14/15
Another GOP climate denier enters 2016 race; And a non-denier jumps in on Dem side; Bad news for Big Coal in China; PLUS: FL's denier disease spreading to WI...
Koch Bros. Stand Up for 'Millions of Montanans' Against Medicaid Expansion
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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
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'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...

By his own admission, they argue, hundreds of thousands of legal voters may be disenfranchised by the GOP-enacted law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2012 6:35am PT  

The petitioners challenging the Republican polling place Photo ID restriction law as a violation of the state Constitution in Pennsylvania, have filed their appeal to the state's Supreme Court, after being caught off-guard by a surprising and stinging defeat at the hands of a Republican Commonwealth Judge last month.

In their 68-page Pennsylvania Supreme Court brief [PDF], the petitioners in Applewhite vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania set forth a compelling legal case to demonstrate the need for a preliminary injunction in advance of the November 2012 President Election in order to prevent what they describe as the potential disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of lawfully registered voters.

The brief does much more than simply urge that Commonwealth Judge Robert E. Simpson, erred in applying the federal "minimum scrutiny" standard instead of subjecting Photo ID to "strict scrutiny" under state law because, they argue, it threatens to deprive hundreds of thousands of Keystone State citizens of a fundamental right to vote. The brief lays bare many of the GOP myths about the purpose of polling place Photo ID restrictions, while demonstrating why the GOP-enacted Pennsylvania law would not qualify as constitutional even under the less demanding test laid down by six of the U.S. Supreme Court's nine Justices in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, their 2008 decision approving Indiana's version of a similar restriction on voting in that state...

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But stops short of a call to end 'corporate personhood'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/2/2012 6:42pm PT  
BETTER LATE THAN NEVER?
President Obama, during his surprise Reddit chat last Wednesday, jumps into the Citizens United fray.

"I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)," President Barack Obama wrote last week during a surprise public Reddit chat.

"Consider mobilizing?" Groups like Move to Amend and Public Citizen initiated that mobilization shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's radical-right quintet handed down that infamous decision in 2010. By July of this year, California had become the sixth state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen's United.

"Assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it?" The Court had an opportunity to revisit Citizens United earlier this year, or at least to limit its impact to federal elections. Instead, the same radical-right quintet expanded the reach of that democracy destroying decision by overturning a Montana Supreme Court decision which had sought to uphold a century old, state anti-corruption law.

While the President's remarks will no doubt be welcomed by the already-mobilized movement, one should not lose sight of the fact that they fall far short of an endorsement of either Vermont's proposed constitutional amendment or the measure introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the U.S. Senate. Both efforts call for the end to "corporate personhood" and a determination that money does not equal free speech under the First Amendment.

If the President truly desires to spotlight what amounts to a hostile corporate takeover of our democracy, he will confront Mitt "corporations are people, my friend" Romney in the upcoming Presidential debates with an openly stated support for a constitutional amendment that, as the Sanders measure provides, establishes that the "rights protected by the Constitution...are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes." Indeed, that position could frame the issue for all candidates seeking public office in the 2012 election.

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Freedom of political choice vs. slavery in post-'Citizens United' America...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/27/2012 2:39pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In a case where the employment of several members of the United Public Workers (UPW) was terminated after they failed to fully participate in unpaid, off-duty campaign activities on behalf of a union-supported Congressional candidate, three Republican members of the Federal Elections Commission produced an astounding Aug. 21 decision. They ruled that it is perfectly lawful for unions and corporations to compel their members and employees to engage in such activities, sans compensation, as part of "independent campaign efforts."

In their "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three GOP Commissioners explained the basis for their remarkable ruling.

They acknowledged that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 USC §441b(a), as well as FEC "regulations prohibit a labor organization [or a corporation] from facilitating the making of a contribution by means of 'coercion, such as the threat of a detrimental job action...to make a contribution or engage in fundraising activities on behalf of a candidate." But, they wrote: "These provisions do not apply to UPW's independent campaign efforts."

UPW's independent use of its paid workforce to campaign for a federal candidate post-Citizen's United was not contemplated by Congress and, consequently, is not prohibited by either the Act or Commission regulations.

The FEC's three Republican appointees thus presented not only a novel but a remarkable extension of Citizens United given that 2 USC §441b(c) makes it "unlawful" even for a corporation's or union's "segregated fund" to provide "anything of value" that is secured by a threat of financial reprisal. The statute mandates that employees must be told about their "right to refuse to so contribute without any reprisal."

In their separate "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], the three FEC Democrats, along with Office of General Counsel (OGC), found a clear-cut violation of Section 441b. "Nothing in Citizens United," the FEC Democrats opined, "suggests...that the Court intended to expand the rights of corporations and unions at the expense of their employees' longstanding rights to be free from coercion and to express or decline to express their political views."

According to the Congressional Research Service [PDF], at least four votes are required for the FEC "to exercise core functions." Thus, the 3-3 deadlock prevented the FEC from disciplining the union for anything beyond the fine for non-reporting of the "independent expenditure."

Setting aside the fact that the OGC's and FEC Democrats' interpretation appears to find direct support in the language of Section 441b of the U.S. Code, there's a fundamental constitutional issue that arises from the disturbing GOP interpretation of Citizens United which neither side addressed --- slavery!...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/24/2012 12:24pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Speaking to a crowd of supporters from the balcony of Ecuador's U.K. Embassy last Sunday, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, demanded that the United States end its "war on whistleblowers" --- a war that, Assange said, not only threatens WikiLeaks but "the freedom of expression and the health of our societies." The U.S., he said, must choose between returning to the "revolutionary values" upon which it was founded, or "lurch off the precipice, dragging us all into a dangerous and oppressive world under which journalists fall silent under fear of prosecution."

Assange credited citizen activism for the fact that Britain did not carry out its unlawful threat last week to "storm" Ecuador's Embassy, stating:

If the UK did not throw away the Vienna Conventions the other night, it was because the world was watching. And the world was watching because you were watching.

So the next time somebody tells you it is pointless to defend those rights that we hold dear, remind them of your vigil in the dark before the Embassy of Ecuador. Remind them how, in the morning, the sun came up on a different world, and a courageous Latin American nation took a stand for justice.

Assange called upon the U.S. to "pledge, before the world, that it will not pursue journalists for shining a light on the secret crimes of the powerful."

"There must be no more foolish talk about prosecuting any media organization, be it WikiLeaks or be it the New York Times," he declared. "The U.S. Administration's war on whistleblowers must end."

The controversial Assange went on to call for the release of "one of the world's foremost political prisoners, Bradley Manning," noting that the former Army Intelligence Analyst had just "spent his 815th day of detention without trial. The legal maximum is 120 days."

Manning is the U.S. Army Private alleged to have released classified material to Assange's WikiLeaks. Legendary Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, during a late 2010 interview with Brad Friedman, described Manning as a "patriot" for his release of the documents.

The full video of Assange's 8/19/12 statement from the balcony of London's Ecuadorian Embassy, where he has been granted asylum by the Latin American country, follows below...

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Federal lawsuit to prevent mass disenfranchisement may be imminent...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2012 12:35pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Pennsylvania has refused to turn over documents that the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) had sought in order to determine whether the state's new polling place Photo ID restriction law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and other federal laws.

As previously reported by The BRAD BLOG, on July 23, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez submitted a four-page letter [PDF] to Carol Aichele, the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (coincidentally, the wife of Gov. Tom Corbett's Chief of Staff), requesting information in electronic format for 16 broad categories of documents that the DoJ felt were needed to evaluate whether the Keystone State's Photo ID law complied with federal laws barring discriminatory election laws.

In an Aug. 17 letter [PDF], the Commonwealth's General Counsel, James D. Schultz, responded to Perez, by telling him that PA would not comply with what Schultz described as an "unprecedented attempt to compel [PA], a state not within the purview Section 5 of the VRA, to present information concerning compliance with Section 2 of the VRA."

Section 5 of the VRA requires some 16 different jurisdictions in the U.S., with a history of racial discrimination, to get pre-clearance for new election-related laws. Pennsylvania is not one of those jurisdictions. However, all 50 states are barred from instituting discriminatory laws under Section 2 of the act.

Schultz accused the DoJ of targeting "a growing number of states…simply because they instituted legislation designed to insure the integrity of the voting process"...

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'Paycheck Protection' Initiative just another scheme to further erode union voices in politics...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/20/2012 8:35am PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

California’s Proposition 32 --- the so-called "Paycheck Protection" Initiative --- is nothing less than a cynical attempt by "the one percent" to manipulate the revulsion now felt by "the 99 percent" towards the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous Citizens United ruling in order to solidify the ability of corporate wealth and power to destroy any semblance of government of, for or by the people.

The text of the initiative, set for this November's ballot in the Golden State, reads as follows:

"Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees."

In a video decrying the ballot measure, the "No on 32: Stop the Special Exemptions Act" campaign, describe it as "Miracle-Grow for...billionaires and their super PACs"...

The initiative was drafted by the Lincoln Club of Orange County --- the same group of right-wing mega millionaires and billionaires whose political hit piece, Hillary: The Movie became the centerpiece of the Citizens United ruling and the ensuing, democracy-destroying flood of dark money into our political system. Its top "$50,000 and over" donors represent a list of the state's wealthiest corporatist Republicans.

Although corporations enjoy a 15-to-1 advantage in political donations over organized labor, according to Open Secrets.org, CA's Prop 32 lumps these two very different forms of organizations under the same "special interest" umbrella.

Under the guise of ending the corrupting influence of "special interest" monies, Proposition 32's wealthy backers seek to eliminate the ability of organized labor to fund campaign ads for political candidates that would otherwise compete with the dominant corporate message, while providing loopholes that are large enough for "the one percent" to haul a trainload of politically corrupting gold bullion from Ft. Knox to Sacramento...

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But Election Day Registration still at risk because of proposed Photo ID ballot measure...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/18/2012 10:34am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Donovan W. Frank dismissed an amended complaint seeking to end Election Day Registration in Minnesota, as filed by a number of right-wing organizations in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Ritchie.

In his 22-page Memorandum of Opinion and Order [PDF], Judge Frank rejected the plaintiffs central claim that MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and other election officials "violated the rights of eligible voters by diluting their votes with the votes of EDRs [Election Day Registered voters]."

Plaintiffs claims, the court stated, were "based on the erroneous premise that election officials must verify voters' eligibility before their votes are counted." Citing appellate authority, the court noted that "flawless elections are not constitutionally guaranteed" and that the plaintiffs had failed to allege facts that would establish that state election officials "engaged in invidious discrimination or intentional misconduct."

Judge Frank also ruled that the plaintiffs had admittedly failed to exhaust state remedies which would have permitted them to challenge an individual's eligibility to vote.

While Election Day Registration in MN is preserved, for now, it remains at risk thanks to a second prong attack on the state's popular, and inclusive, program ...

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Similarly failed systems set for use in all 50 states this November...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/17/2012 11:33am PT  

By Ernest A. Canning and Brad Friedman

We now have yet another ominous sign of trouble that may be on the horizon for this November's election. As if we needed yet another sign. And, once again, the concerns come via failures on paper ballot-based optical-scan computer tally systems.

Election officials in Genessee County, Michigan have acknowledged failures by the county's M-100 model optical-scan system, made by Election Systems and Software, Inc. (ES&S), during its Aug. 7 primary.

According to the county's Supervisor of Elections and Vital Records, Doreen D. Fulcher, the system experienced paper jams that resulted in ballots being fed through the system more than once. Fulcher, who also noted that there were a "number of ballots cast" that "didn't initially match poll book numbers," downplayed the scope of the problem. Flint's MLive, however, reported that the County Board of Canvassers were "still unraveling" the problem ten days after the election.

It is not the first time the M-100, set to be used in 32 different states again this November, has caused headaches for election officials and voters. The systems have a documented record of failing to count the same ballots the same way twice during pre-election testing. Nor is it the only optical-scan system made by ES&S, the largest e-voting vendor in the nation, that has failed time and again during elections.

As The BRAD BLOG previously reported, ballots obtained by the New York Daily News through a public records request revealed that ES&S op-scan systems used in a South Bronx precinct in 2010 failed to count some 70% of the paper ballots correctly in that year's primary election. In November's general election that year, some 54% of the ballots were mistallied at the same precinct.

The South Bronx used the newer ES&S model DS200, which the company confirmed could overheat, causing anywhere from 30% to 70% of the votes scanned by the machines to be erroneously discarded or erroneously counted. Thus, in the case of New York, that meant that tens of thousands of perfectly valid votes went uncounted, while thousands of "phantom votes" in races that voters hadn't intended to vote in at all were counted as valid.

The confirmation of the New York failure came almost two years after the election, once the newspaper was finally able to review the paper ballots by hand, under public records laws.

While Genessee County used the earlier ES&S Model M100, as we previously reported, the unreliability of opaque optical-scan computer tallying systems are, by no means, confined to the DS200 or, for that matter, to ES&S systems. Similar systems will once again be used across the entire country this November, to tally the Presidential election and all the races below it...either accurately or not...

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Diplomatic row said to threaten fabric of international law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/16/2012 11:23am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Undaunted by a U.K. threat to "storm" Ecuador's London embassy if the Latin American nation refused to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to British authorities, this morning, Ecuador granted Assange's request for political asylum.

At a press conference in Quito, Ecuador's foreign minister Ricardo Patino strongly denounced the threat received from the U.K.: "Today we've received a threat by the United Kingdom, a clear and written threat that they could storm our embassy in London if Ecuador refuses to hand in Julian Assange."

Ecuador's decision to grant asylum in the face of the U.K.'s threat have not only triggered a diplomatic row but have threatened to tear apart the very fabric of international rule of law, according to experts. Where one could anticipate Sweden's denouncement of Ecuador's asylum decision as "unacceptable", as it summoned Ecuador's ambassador to Stockholm, the British threat to storm Ecuador's embassy was described by University of Australia Professor of International Law Don Rothwell as "extraordinary" and a "significant violation" of Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Rights that could "find its way before an international court."

As Ecuador's foreign minister issued an angry denouncement of the U.K. threat, noting that his nation was "not a British colony", American filmmaker Michael Moore called on his friends in the U.K. to mount a protest of the U.K. threat outside Ecuador's London embassy. Occupy Wall Street protesters called for "people to take part in a 24/7 occupation of the British consulate in New York." Reuters reported a "clash between protesters and British police outside of Ecuador's embassy."

But, as discussed in a must-read opinion piece by Mark Weisbrot of the UK Guardian, the very concept of an international rule of law is open to question given the impunity by which the United States and its allies have operated both at home and abroad...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/15/2012 7:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

No doubt during this election cycle, like every election cycle over the past forty years, we'll hear from the GOP about "tax and spend" Democrats.

Even though it doesn't detail how every Republican since Reagan has combined massive, unpaid-for tax cuts for the wealthy with runaway, unpaid-for military spending --- creating a great excuse to destroy the New Deal safety net, in order to slash their runaway deficit-spending --- this chart is, nonetheless rather revealing...

None of that, of course, has kept the bulk of the "Lamestream Media" from repeating the myth of Republicans as "fiscal conservatives," a concept this site has spent many years attempting to debunk. Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did exactly the same thing when it came to the claim that Mitt Romney's newly chosen Veep pick, Paul Ryan, is a "fiscal conservative."

To borrow from CNN's Soledad O'Brien yesterday, "I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again" --- in this case by the Beltway Media --- but "you can't just repeat it and make it true."

Maddow dispatches with the "Ryan as 'fiscal conservative'" nonsense in the unforgiving video below, in which she notes:

If we really are going to be stuck with Paul Ryan as the face of Republicanism for a long time, and if the term "fiscal conservative" is supposed to mean anything, we should get clear there may be a lot of great stuff to say about this guy, but "fiscally conservative" is not one of the things you really can say about him. ... If that counts as fiscal conservative for you, you don't speak English


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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/8/2012 2:47pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

“We’re very disappointed that this happened," Chevron spokesman Walt Gill said (audio available in yesterday's Green News Report), after a fire at the company's Richmond, CA refinery, just outside of San Francisco, spewed toxic smoke that sent more than 900 people to hospital emergency rooms due to respiratory distress.

"We're sorry for the inconvenience," Gill added.

An environmental disaster that Gill sees as merely "inconvenient" for local citizens, could also provide a golden opportunity for the oil cartel, whose five largest companies are raking in $14.4 million in profits/hour along with $270,000/hour in tax breaks. As Gill was apologizing for the "inconvenience," Bloomberg not only noted a sharp gas price increase in the Bay area but predicted significant increases as far north as Seattle. This was followed by a Los Angeles Times prediction that "California gasoline prices could surge at least 35 cents a gallon this week."

If those predictions come to fruition, they would follow a pattern which occurred earlier this year when the entire West Coast experienced a sharp spike in gas prices after the shutdown of BP's Cherry Point refinery in Washington State. As reported by McClatchy, the spike prompted Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to call upon "the Federal Trade Commission to investigate refinery operators Alon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Shell, Tesoro and BP."

In that case, Cantwell cited a McCulloch Research report which claimed that prices were about 68 cents per gallon higher than they should have been, based on available supply. According to that report, the "sudden price shift...provided a significant windfall for refineries and retailers on the West Coast. At a differential of $.68 a gallon, this translates into a windfall profit of $43 million a day."

Looks like recent history is about to repeat itself.

All the while, we, the people, continue to give these monster corporations, the most profitable in world history, $270,000 in tax breaks every hour, while leaving the renewable, clean energy industry to beg for whatever scraps they can get. All of that, even though, "When there's a huge solar energy spill," as the Greenpeace billboard banned by oil-friendly Canada notes, "it's just called a nice day."

* * *

Democracy Now!'s 8/8/12 segment, dealing with the local impact of Chevron's Richmond, CA refinery fire follows below. (Note the map reflecting the number of additional refineries in the immediate area which were not shut down by the fire.)...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/6/2012 11:50am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In the third of our three-part series on the U.S. Government's failed 'War on Drugs,' earlier this year, we noted that drug prohibition was vital to the very existence of the deadly Mexican drug cartels. As we noted, the carnage, which included 13,000 deaths inside Mexico in "the first three quarters of 2011 --- a number that does not include the more than 5,000 people who have disappeared" --- is now spilling over the border into the U.S.

Over the past five years, some 60,000 have died in the Mexican drug war, and "the U.S. has played a big part in it," according to a new video from the Brave New Foundation on behalf of GunWar.org. The free flow of increasingly sophisticated weaponry from the U.S. to Mexico --- extremely profitable for the U.S. small arms industry and deadly for innocent civilians --- is part of the very "scourge" which the U.N. was seeking to address in its Arms Trade Treaty negotiations before the Obama Administration caved in the face of the National Rifle Association's campaign of blatant lies about the accord.

All of the Mexican carnage, as the video explains, is due, in no small part, to the tremendously lax oversight of the sale of such weapons here in the U.S., thanks to the political strong-arming by groups such as the NRA who oppose virtually any and all oversight or regulation of any type.

"Around 70% of all firearms seized in Mexico and submitted for tracing, come from the United States," Brave New World explains. "Most gun sellers don't care. The more they sell, the more they profit."

The additionally tragic irony underscoring these facts: All of this has played out even as Republicans have spent the last year or so pretending to be concerned about their so-called "Fast and Furious scandal", the poorly-considered ATF "gun walking" program begun by the Bush Administration and continued by members of the ATF based in Arizona during the Obama Administration. A federal program designed (poorly or otherwise) to try and catch gun-runners and drug lords: Bad --- at least when it's carried out by a Democratic administration. Little to no restriction on the "legal" purchase of military-grade assault weapons in the U.S., resulting in tens of thousands of them pouring over the border for decades: That's just one of the many benefit that members receive in exchange for sending their hard-earned cash to the terrorist-enabling NRA...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/2/2012 4:26pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning with Brad Friedman

Cowering in the face of blatantly false claims by the terrorist-enablers and dishonest fear-mongerers of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and one of their most vocal lying supporters, the Obama administration torpedoed talks at the United Nations on a proposed international treaty which sought to regulate the $60 billion international small arms trade.

The talks were designed to deal with a problem the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs describes as having created "a worldwide scourge" that has placed weapons in the hands of insurgents, armed gang members, drug lords, pirates and terrorists.

Dishonestly claiming the treaty was intended to regulate domestic U.S. arms sales, the NRA and its supporter, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, led a wholly deceptive charge against the long-sought treaty.

The accord, says Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International, was meant "to prevent countries and arms exporters from selling guns and military hardware to human rights abusers." But such a treaty was a bridge too far for those, like Bolton and the leadership of the NRA, who favor the profits U.S. arms manufacturers can realize if they can sell firearms to anyone and everyone. And, for now, even the Obama administration, which has, time and again, wilted whenever it feels the heat that accompanies an NRA 2nd Amendment propaganda barrage, has proven willing to sacrifice a much needed international treaty rather than square off with the terrorist-enabling NRA and their lies.

"Any treaty that includes civilian firearms ownership in its scope will be met with the NRA's greatest force of opposition," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said during his purposely deceptive testimony at the UN earlier this month. What he purposely failed to note? The treaty had absolutely nothing to do with "civilian firearms ownership" in the U.S. of any kind.

LaPierre's testimony was just another chapter in the NRA's long-perpetuated scam to continue pimping for the firearms industry by hoaxing their membership into believing that the Obama Administration --- which has, several times, expanded the rights of civilian firearms owners since taking office --- is secretly plotting to undermine the 2nd Amendment in hopes of taking guns away from law abiding citizens.

"I am here to announce NRA's strong opposition to anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens right to self-defense," LaPierre lied during his UN testimony. "We will not stand idly by while international organizations, whether state-based or stateless, attempt to undermine the fundamental liberties our men and women in uniform have fought so bravely to preserve...and on which our entire American system of government is based"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/30/2012 1:20pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The horror that played out during the recent midnight massacre inside a Century theater in Aurora, CO is but the latest example of the danger posed to our safety and our very lives by the radical right's expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment.

On June 28, 2008, that view --- that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a state militia --- became the law of the land, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court's hard right quintet's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller ("Heller") --- a 5-4 decision that ignored precedent, history and basic rules of constitutional interpretation.

Heller not only elevated the profits of the domestic small arms industry above the ability of government to protect our safety, our general welfare, our domestic tranquility and our very lives, but provided a disturbing new context to the eerily prescient 1991 warning provided by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) when he likened the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to a game of "Russian Roulette"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/26/2012 4:53pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Last April, in an article which covered an ethics complaint filed by the Center for Media and Democracy against 43 Republican state legislators, The BRAD BLOG went to great lengths to explain how the "legislative task force" system employed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was not merely subverting but supplanting our representative form of democracy. It was an article that would later be reprinted by The American Trial Lawyer magazine.

But, leave it to a Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist, like Mark Fiore, to provide a more succinct explanation of the same phenomenon in this relatively short but powerful animated toon...

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