Brad intvws City Councilman Paul Koretz, who explains why those who 'vape' should be treated like those who smoke - even while calling it 'much safer than smoking'.
UPDATE: Amer Lung Assoc CEO: Ban 'misguided'...
Green Party candidate David Curtis tells us that online voting can be 'secure and verifiable', despite what computer science and e-voting expert say. But he's not alone among 2014 SoS candidates in the Golden State...
A New Jersey judge ruled on Friday that the state must allow same-sex couples to marry, finding that failing to do so deprives them of rights that are now guaranteed by the federal government following a ruling by the Supreme Court in June.
It is the first time a court has struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage as a direct result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, and it comes as Gov. Chris Christie continues to oppose allowing gay marriage in the state. His administration may appeal.
Lawmakers passed legislation in 2012 to allow same-sex marriage, but it was vetoed by Mr. Christie, a Republican who is considered a leading candidate for his party’s 2016 presidential nomination.
Judge [Mary C.] Jacobson’s opinion said same-sex marriages would be allowed starting Oct. 21.
If Christie would like to be a true conservative here --- one who believes in equal protection for all, as per that thing called the U.S. Constitution --- he'd give up the ghost on this one and not appeal Jacobson's decision. But, Republican primary voters don't want actual conservatism. They want Rightwingism. Your move, Chris.
Either way, this continues to signal the ultimate end --- and probably sooner than we all suspect --- of marriage discrimination across the entire nation. (Yes, they're coming for you Utah, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, et al! Get over it.)
And it also represents still more surprisingly good news for a Friday --- for any day, actually --- following on this very good news previously. This can't continue.
Following yesterday's high-level talks between Sec. of State John Kerry and his Iranian counterpart, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif --- the first such direct meeting in 34 years --- President Obama spoke on the phone this afternoon with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Again, the first time anything like that has happened since 1979.
USA Today notes that "Obama said he and Rouhani discussed the standoff over Iran's nuclear program and agreed to direct their teams to negotiate an agreement in which Iran would forswear the ability to develop nuclear weapons."
For his part, according to the same report, the Iranian President took to Twitter to confirm the conversation with Obama:
Rouhani confirmed the phone conversations in a series of Twitter messages, saying in one that "in regards to nuclear issue, with political will, there is a way to rapidly solve the matter."
In another tweet, Rouhani told Obama: "I express my gratitude for your hospitality and your phone call. Have a good day Mr President."
The struggle to protect the fundamental right to vote for people with a felony conviction is nothing new in this country, but has now reached a crisis level.
Florida, unsurprisingly, has one of the worst records when it comes to felon re-enfranchisement. While other states revoke the right to vote of a person convicted of a felony most states restore voting rights once a person has completed his or her sentence, and provide a streamlined process for restoration of rights. Florida, in contrast, has erected a convoluted, antiquated and ineffective system which makes it virtually impossible for anyone to get his or her rights restored. The result is that tens of thousands of applications for rights restoration have remained in limbo for years. Election after election passes, with fewer and fewer Florida citizens able to participate.
Earlier this month, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations detailed the crisis of felon disfranchisement and the barriers to rights restoration in a Shadow Report submitted to the UN Committee on Human Rights, explaining U.S. non-compliance with its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The report highlights how, as of 2010, Florida has disfranchised more than 1.5 million citizens due to a felony conviction – amounting to 10.42 percent of the state's voting age population and 23.3 percent of Florida's African-American voting age population.
The arbitrary nature of Florida's rights restoration process is best illustrated by how the change in the state's administration – from Gov. Charlie Crist to Gov. Rick Scott – resulted in a shift from 115,000 grants of rights restoration in 2007 to a shutdown in the process in 2011, with the current governor denying or rendering ineligible the overwhelming majority of applications.
Good thing they don't have close elections in Florida.
Picking up on The BRAD BLOG's exclusive statement from the imprisoned former Governor Don Siegelman (D-AL) in regard to the alleged $20 million money laundering conspiracy by the currently-acquitted Tom DeLay, former convict Jack Abramoff, fugitive from justice Karl Rove and others to take down Alabama's popular former Governor, I was joined by Siegelman's son Joseph on this week's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast.
Not familiar with the outrageous prosecution and conviction of Siegelman? Or of what appears to be his blatantly stolen 2002 election (on a Diebold paper ballot electronic tabulator?) This is great episode to listen to, as it also includes a lot of background and a few clips from my interview with the former Governor just days before he was ordered back to federal prison last year.
But before you get outraged all over again, we started off the show with a rarely heard good news segment to help soften everything else a bit. Yes, there have been a number of things to be happy and/or encouraged by, of late...though admittedly it's been very hard to notice.
Now, the last Democratic governor to serve Alabama is speaking up for himself, in a statement he's furnished to The BRAD BLOG from federal prison, slamming DeLay for what he describes as his part in a $20 million criminal conspiracy with convicted GOP uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Karl Rove, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and others to defeat him in his bid for re-election, and to ensure he never took office again.
Siegelman is currently serving a 6.5 year sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, Louisiana for something that 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general agree had never been regarded as a crime until Siegelman was convicted for it. (Watch 60 Minutes' 2008 story on Siegelman's outrageous prosecution here.)
In his statement, the former governor speaks out against "The Hammer" and hammers him hard for what he describes as collusion to "engineer a money laundering scheme to defeat me in my race for re-election as governor and to elect Karl Rove's and Tom DeLay's Republican colleague from the U.S. House, then Congressman Bob Riley."
"I know first-hand, personally --- what I'm about to tell you is not hearsay," Siegelman writes about the alleged scheme to remove him from office through a late night ballot tampering scheme. He explains how the conspiracy resulted in robbing him of his 2002 re-election after it had already been called in his favor by all the networks. Later, before Siegelman --- the only person to hold all four top statewide offices in Alabama history --- could run for Governor again, he says the same cabal worked to have him thrown in jail on what appear to be trumped up charges brought by a Bush Administration prosecutor who also happened to be married to Riley's Chief of Staff.
In the fiery, no-holds-barred statement (posted in full below), Siegelman cites Abramoff's own book, Capitol Punishment, in which he says the former GOP lobbyist "admits for the first time to money laundering to the tune of some $20,000,000 dollars 'to stop Siegelman.'"...
My OpEd News interview begins with this question from Brunwasser...
Republicans are notorious for trying to disenfranchise voters, mostly voters who tend to vote against their candidates. But in this case, as you point out, the ill-conceived legislation has Democratic backing, and is, in fact, Democrat-sponsored. What's that all about? Have public officials learned nothing since 2004?
Give the full interview a read to find out my answer to those questions, along with a number of other thoughts on Democratic science denial when it comes to unverifiable (and untested) election technology.
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If you've yet to give CA Governor Jerry Brown your opinion on whether he should sign or veto SB 360, you may do so right here. (Choose "SB00360" from the "Please choose your subject" dropdown box, and select Pro or Con on the next screen.) You may also call his office to leave your opinion at (916) 445-2841.
NOTE: The space-aged touch-screen system being developed by L.A. County, is also being planned for sale to other jurisdictions across the country. The way CA tests and certifies its voting machines, or doesn't, is very likely to have a direct impact on voting systems used in your jurisdictions across the nation as well!
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Support truly independent media! Support The BRAD BLOG...
A few 'Tea Partiers' --- even in Georgia, of all places --- are finally beginning to discover how they've been had by the very corporate powers who helped create them in the first place. They're now joining forces with some of the folks, like the Sierra Club, who have been fighting for their best interests all along...
My only quibble with the otherwise not-horrible-at-all coverage by Fox "News" here, is their chyron on the bottom which reads: "Using Tea Party values to advance green energy". Well, perhaps we can forgive Fox needing to find some way to save face here, but wouldn't "Joining environmentalists to advance Tea Party values" have been equally as accurate, if not more so? Or "Tea Party joins environmentalist fight for free market competition", or some such?
[Hat-tip to too-infrequent BRAD BLOG contributor, D.R. Tucker.]
Following Thursday's 2-to-1 decision by a three-judge panel from an appellate court in Texas overturning the 2010 felony money laundering convictions of former U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay (R), the Travis County District Attorney announced her intention to seek a review of that decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
"We strongly disagree with the opinion of Judges Goodwin and Gaultney that the evidence was insufficient," Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg said in a statement. "We are concerned and disappointed that two judges substituted their assessment of the facts for that of 12 jurors who personally heard the testimony of over 40 witnesses over the course of several weeks and found that the evidence was sufficient and proved DeLay's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."
She said her office is "preparing a response to this opinion and will ask the full Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to review the ruling."
I've been poring over both the majority decision [PDF] by the three-judge panel's two Republicans, and the dissent [PDF] issued by the Democratic Chief Justice of that court. I'm no expert here, and I'm trying to learn more, but the majority's decision seems to invoke some fairly impressive tortured logic in order to overturn the 12 jurors finding that DeLay committed these crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.
Nonetheless, that logic, twisted or otherwise, may well work at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the court of last resort for criminal matters in the Lone Star State...
Ironically enough, I had the opportunity to speak for a few minutes with former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman in federal prison over the weekend. Siegelman, a Democrat, has so far served nearly two years for a "crime" that had never before been considered a crime before he was found guilty of it. He is likely to serve many more years in prison for the charges brought by Republicans, including a federal prosecutor whose husband was the Chief of Staff of Siegelman's gubernatorial rival Bob Riley, a team of folks, including the judge, who are all good friends of Karl Rove and who are said to have "coached, cajoled and threatened" the star witness in the case.
Today, in the meantime, Tom DeLay, the former Republican leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, who was convicted of money-laundering hundreds of thousands of corporate dollars in Texas to give them to candidates --- something which has been an actual crime for decades in the state --- was acquitted of all charges by a 2 to 1 decision of a Texas appeals court.
DeLay never served a day in prison. Siegelman, on the day he was convicted, before the appeals process could even begin, was literally shackled and carted away. The basis for Siegelman's conviction has subsequently been challenged in a letter signed by a group of 113 bi-partisan former state attorneys general.
For the record, when I spoke with Siegelman from his federal penitentiary in Oakdale, Louisiana over the weekend, he seemed to be in incredibly good spirits. At least that's the impression he offered during our very short chat. I can only imagine how dispiriting it must be today, however, for him to read the news about DeLay.
• My interview with Siegelman and his daughter Dana, from just over one year ago, after he had finally been released on appeal after serving nine months, and just one week prior to being ordered back to prison, can be heard right here.
UPDATE 9/21/13: DeLay is not entirely out of the woods yet. Here's a more detailed explanation of the court's decision in which the two partisan-elected Republican judges reversed the conviction, while the lone Democrat (the Chief Justice of the Third Court of Appeals in Texas) dissented. As I explain in that follow-up, the Travis County D.A. has now vowed to seek a review of the lower court's ruling at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, though she may run into partisan concerns at that higher court as well.
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio we spoke first with Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) about whether the MSM --- despite recent hand-wringing over failures in the run-up to Iraq 10 years ago --- repeated the same behavior in the run-up to the almost-war in Syria.
California State Sen. Alex Padilla continues to mislead the public about SB 360, his radical election reform bill passed recently by the state legislature along partisan lines, and now waiting for a signature, or veto, from Gov. Jerry Brown.
The bill, as we explained in our detailed exposé last week, would end all federal testing of new e-voting systems in the state of California. The use of only federally-approved voting systems had long been a requirement in the state. Moreover, the measure would grant unprecedented sweeping executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new voting and tabulation systems for use in real elections without any certification testing at all, even by state auditors.
Last week, we explained how Padilla has been cynically selling this bill for many months as necessary in order for jurisdictions like Los Angeles County to own their own non-proprietary voting systems. Who, after all, other than private voting machine companies (and/or folks who'd like to use such systems to game elections), would be against the idea that voting systems should be publicly owned by the jurisdictions which use them to run their own public elections? But that explanation doesn't really tell the full story.
L.A. has been in the process of developing a new, publicly-owned, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system for some time. (See a new video of their design concepts, all quite troubling for those of us familiar with new, touch-screen e-voting systems, right here or at the bottom of this article.) The county has said they hope to sell their new system to other counties in the state and across the country. But, what Padilla doesn't mention to lawmakers or to the public while pitching his legislation, is that L.A. already owns their own current voting system and has for many years.
"I've introduced a piece of legislation that doesn't mandate, but allows, at the county level, county governments to own their voting systems," Padilla misleadingly announced on KSRO the day before the bill was finally approved by both chambers of the state legislature earlier this month. He cited L.A. County's development as the reason that counties should be able to own their own voting systems...which, he didn't mention, L.A. already does.
You can listen to Padilla's brief, 9/5/2013 interview on KSRO here [appx 4.5 mins]:
Since SB 360's introduction back in February, Padilla has been quoted similarly, and misleadingly, in every press release we've seen issued by his office, touting that "Allowing counties to develop, own and operate voting systems will increase voter confidence in the integrity of our elections."
The next, even more misleading part of the oft-used Padilla quote, has been modified only slightly in his press releases since the bill's introduction last February...
The thing about climate change deniers is that, not only will no amount of thoroughly peer-reviewed and independently verifiable science --- even mountains of it, corroborated over and again over decades --- convince them they are fools, they also seem to take delight in simply ignoring how their specious assertions continue to be debunked time and time again with that same science.
Case in point, last week we highlighted how the dupes, stooges, patsies, pawns, chumps, rubes and suckers of the Climate Change Denial Industry had fallen hard for David Rose's completely inaccurate, misleading and/or fabricated claims in the British tabloid Mail on Sunday, which falsely asserted that the predictable variability evidenced by an increase in Arctic ice surface extent this summer signified that "global COOLING!" (the Mail's ALL-CAPS) is now under way!
The chumps who fell for Rose's silly claims forgot, or were too incurious to learn, that the increase over last year was an increase over the Arctic's record low minimum ice extent last year, falling squarely into decades of predictable variability along a very clear decades-long trend line of an alarming decrease in Arctic ice. Like the article, the same patsies also failed to note the difference between this year's temporary extent (area) and the longer-term, harder to measure volume (thickness) of ice that also continues to decline along the same disturbing, demonstrable and predicted trend lines.
Unfazed by being roundly and verifiably debunked, disputed and scoffed at by virtually every scientific corner of the globe (if not by the Fossil Fuel-funded Denial Industry and its lazy dupes who trumpeted the false report), Rose and the Mail unleashed yet another pile of demonstrably false, easily debunked nonsense Climate Change Denier Link Bait on Sunday, featuring this wholly deceptive --- okay, just plain inaccurate --- headline...