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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, December 20, 2014
'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
Previous GNRs: 12/9/14 - 12/4/14 - Archives...
The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
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...

GUEST: Robert Parry of Consortium News on how the MSM is getting it wrong on Iraq Syria Ukraine...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2014 10:04pm PT  

Ever since the situation in Ukraine began to blow up (again), I've been trying to figure out what's really been going on. It hasn't been easy. And the U.S. corporate media has not been particularly helpful (again).

My attempt to sort out fact from fiction after last weekend's '97.6%' referendum vote in Crimea is just one example of finding the facts running counter to the U.S. MSM narrative.

We pick up that thread on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast, as I was joined by investigative reporter Robert Parry of ConsortiumNews.com to try and sort much of it out. His must-read article, "Mainstream US Media Is Lost in Ukraine", tying together blatant media failures on Iraq and Syria and now in Ukraine, begins to crack the nut of what the U.S. media is failing to tell us about the entire fine mess, including some startling audio evidence that we play on the show suggesting that certain narratives --- for example, the one about now former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych's police gunning down protesters --- may be much less (or, at least, much different) than has been generally reported in this country.

Parry explains how "The U.S. mainstream news media is reaching a new professional low point as it covers the Ukraine crisis by brazenly touting Official Washington’s propaganda themes, blatantly ignoring contrary facts and leading the American public into another geopolitical blind alley."

You'll want to hear this conversation.

In the back half of the show...we cover The BRAD BLOG's exclusive this week on a great new gift for election hackers --- just in time for the 2014 mid-terms!; the one WI Republican state Senator willing to stand up against Gov. Scott Walker's voter suppression; Sen. Whitehouse's theory on Citizens United and climate change denial; and, of course, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report, as usual.

Buckle up!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

[Image: Mykhaylo Palinchak / Shutterstock.com]

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The nation's most ubiquitous unverifiable e-voting machine makes a perfect gift for the hacker who has it all!...
By Brad Friedman on 3/19/2014 6:35am PT  

Hey! Great news! Just in time to practice up your hacking skills before the 2014 mid-term elections, you can now buy your very own ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system from eBay!...

Yes, the very same voting systems that are so incredibly sensitive and vulnerable to tampering (and which have failed so often in so many states and in so many elections) that both election officials and Elections Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) have long attempted to keep them out of the hands of the public, can now be yours for just $499.99 or "Best Offer" via eBay! And that includes Free Shipping!

And, oh, look! One of them is already sold!...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2014 11:21pm PT  

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And what does it tell us about U.S. elections?...
By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2014 6:05am PT  

In a blog item on Monday, law professor Ilya Somin, of the Washington Post's right-leaning "Volokh Conspiracy" blog, declared the weekend's reported 96.7% vote in favor of Crimea joining Russia to be either fraudulent or the result of voter intimidation of some kind.

In the article, Somin called the results "dubious" and "highly improbable," declaring at least three times in his very short, 6-paragraph item that the referendum's results were "achieved" (his quotes) and/or "likely tainted by fraud or intimidation" --- the likelihood of which Somin describes as a "fact."

"It is highly improbable that 96.7% would have voted yes in a genuinely free vote, since the Crimean population includes large Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar minorities that are overwhelmingly opposed to a return to Russian rule," the George Mason University School of Law professor instructs. "Crimean officials are also reporting a high 83% turnout. If that figure is correct, it makes it unlikely that the 96.7% result is explicable by selective turnout. If, on the other hand, officials are lying about the turnout, they could be engaging deception about the vote margin as well."

Mainstream corporate media in the U.S. have a very difficult time reporting on real evidence of fraud in American elections, much less reporting it as "fact." But when it comes to elections overseas, particularly those which involve perceived geopolitical foes of the U.S., papers like the Washington Post seem to have little, if any, reluctance in offering exceedingly speculative arguments that all but declare elections held by others to be "fraudulent." (See this head-spinning irony, also involving Ukraine, just days after the very same disparity in Exit Polling, carried out by the same firm, resulted in questions about the legitimacy of results from Ukraine's November 2004 Presidential election, but not the still-disputed results of the 2004 Presidential elections in the U.S. just a week or two earlier.)

But 96.7% is, indeed, an outrageously high number for any election result. So how much legitimacy should be given to the results of the voting announced from the weekend referendum in Crimea, given what we know about the balloting and what we don't? And can the U.S. learn anything --- for better or worse --- about the way votes were cast and counted in Crimea?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2014 11:56am PT  

I'm told I handled this morning's 6:30am earthquake very well. I remember it, if just barely. Half dream, half decisive action!...Or so I'm told. Then, back to dreaming until waking up later and confirming that it wasn't actually a dream.

Some of the local TV news anchors here, who were on air and on camera during the moment that the 4.4 magnitude temblor struck, handled it better than others.

Here's our local CBS affiliate in action as "disaster" struck...

Contrast the CBS-LA team's fairly calm response with that of the two anchors who were live on Tribune-owned CW affiliate KTLA at the time, particular the award-winningly hilarious reaction of Chris Schauble on the right, caught on tape for all of posterity...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Koch Bros. 'enormous money' in 'elections between Republicans and Republicans' responsible for new GOP 'silence' on climate...
By Brad Friedman on 3/14/2014 3:11pm PT  

During last Tuesday's Green News Report, we briefly discussed the U.S. Senate "all nighter" on climate change, where 28 Democrats and 1 Republican (Inhofe, the GOP's "Denier-in-Chief" who stuck around long enough to mock the effort) stayed up all night making speeches calling for climate change action in hopes of drawing attention to the issue.

We mocked it ourselves a bit, suggesting that Democrats might have carried out such a stunt during the day, instead of in the middle of the night when most people were asleep, if they really wanted folks to notice. In the meantime, our friend Kenny Pick of Turn Up the Night has been slogging through CSPAN's 17-hour video posting of the session and sends us a clip that caught his eye.

In it, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), co-sponsor along with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of the Senate #Up4Climate event, focuses a laser light on the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 Citizens United decision as a turning point --- a very bad one --- for climate change denialism, specifically on the flip-flopping by Republicans on an issue they actually did once appear to care about...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2014 6:50pm PT  

Meanwhile...Back up in Wisconsin, where two different courts have already found the Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law to be in violation of the state constitution, a decision on an appeal waits at the state Supreme Court.

But, no worries, if that Court also agrees that it's unconstitutional to deny WI voters their right to vote, Gov. Scott Walker is ready to call the state legislature back into an emergency session to try to pass another such law, according to the Journal Sentinel...

Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he would call a special legislative session if courts this spring do not uphold the state's voter ID law, which has been blocked since soon after it was enacted.

Shortly after taking over all of state government in 2011, Republicans passed a law requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls. In 2012, two Dane County judges blocked the measure.

Those cases are now before the state Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by June. Separately, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman is considering two other cases that argue the voter ID law violates the U.S. Constitution and federal Voting Rights Act.

Despite the fact that an expert on voter fraud testified during one of the trials last year that there was only one single case of voter impersonation in WI that might have been deterred by such a law over the past 10 years, the Wisconsin State Journal reports that Walker sees this issue as very very urgent --- the only one, in fact, that is urgent enough that he would find it necessary to call for a special session of the legislature, for some reason...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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GUEST: Marcy Wheeler of Emptywheel, The Intercept...
By Brad Friedman on 3/13/2014 6:05am PT  

If you didn't happen to see what happened Tuesday on the U.S. Senate floor [full video/transcript here] when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) unleashed a stunning 38-minute speech excoriating the CIA for spying on U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence staffers' work on a 6,300-page report detailing torture by the Bush-era CIA, you'll want to listen to this week's BradCast.

Even if you did see what happened on Tuesday, you should tune in to this week's show, as I suspect you'll get details on the various plots, cover-ups and related schemes that you haven't yet heard. I was joined to discuss the mess with our old friend Marcy Wheeler, the encyclopedic national security expert from Emptywheel.net and now Senior Policy Adviser at The Intercept.

She's been tracking this since at least 2009, and we went through the remarkable timeline beginning with Bush's "Enhanced Interrogation" torture program just after 9/11, through the CIA's attempted cover-up, shredding of videotapes and removal of documents from the Senate staffer's computers, on up to yesterday's explosive comments from DiFi and the implausible denials from CIA Chief John Brennan (and the calls for criminal charges by both parties) which Wheeler and others are now describing as a bona fide "Constitutional Crisis".

This is an extraordinary story. It's Spy v. Overseer; CIA v. U.S. Senate; Executive Branch v. Legislative Branch; DiFi v. Brennan; Hypocrisy v. Reality; Torture & Cover-ups v. Rule of Law & Constitution. And it all could, as Mother Jones' David Corn argues, very well "undermine the basis for secret government" itself.

In the second part of the show, we covered several much more encouraging news items from the past several days, as well as the latest Green News Report. Buckle up and enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2014 8:04pm PT  

Whatever your feelings about the Affordable Care Act (ACA or 'ObamaCare'), one of its main objectives was to lower the number of Americans without health insurance. According to new data out today from Gallup, the health care insurance law seems to be having precisely that effect...

WASHINGTON (AP) --- With just three weeks left to sign up under President Barack Obama's health care law, a major survey tracking the rollout finds that the uninsured rate keeps going down.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, released Monday, found that 15.9 percent of U.S. adults are uninsured thus far in 2014, down from 17.1 percent for the last three months --- or calendar quarter--- of 2013.

That translates roughly to 3 million to 4 million people [who previously did not have health insurance, now] getting coverage.

Gallup said the share of Americans who lack coverage is on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level it measured since 2008, before Obama took office.

The survey found that almost every major demographic group made progress getting health insurance, although Hispanics lagged.
...
The Gallup poll is considered authoritative because it combines the scope and depth found in government surveys with the timeliness of media sampling. Pollsters interview 500 people a day, 350 days a year. The latest health care results were based on more than 28,000 interviews, or about 28 times as many as in a standard national poll.

The survey can be an early indicator of broad shifts in society. Gallup saw a modest decline in the uninsured rate in January, and now two full months of data indicate a trend is taking shape.

Gallup said the drop coincides with the start of coverage under the health care law on Jan. 1.

While The BRAD BLOG has been no particular fan of ObamaCare, and has long advocated for a "Medicare for All" type single-payer system, (we've long been loud supporters of a much better and more moral system than that offered by "ObamaCare", and still are) the facts about ACA are the facts.

In addition to the continuing fall in the number of uninsured Americans, we also noted last November that the rise in the cost of health care has been the flattest in U.S. history during the three years since the passage of the law. And, on a personal note, last December I detailed the ObamaCare "nightmare" I suffered by spending less than an hour on the CA state exchange website to sign up for a new plan with the same health care provider I had previously, and saved $300/month ($3,600/year) in the process.

Yes, if I was a Republican I'd want to pretend "ObamaCare" was a disaster and do everything possible to repeal it as well.

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By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2014 6:11pm PT  

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By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2014 12:33pm PT  

Some encouraging news to begin your week, along with apologies to Ian Millhiser for running his short and sweet piece in full, but I'm off the grid for much of today and would like to flag his main point here...

By a massive 46 point margin, Iowans believe that it is more important that "every eligible, registered voter has the opportunity to vote" than it is to make sure that "no person ineligible to vote slips through the cracks and casts a vote." 71 percent of respondents to a Des Moines Register poll preferred the first option, just 25 percent preferred the later.

The poll is the second blow in just one week to Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz (R), who campaigned in 2010 on his support for voter ID, a common voter suppression law. Last Wednesday, an Iowa judge permanently struck down Schultz's attempt to purge voters from the voter rolls on suspicion that they could be non-citizens.

Although voter ID's supporters typically claim that they are necessary to prevent ineligible voters from showing up at the polls, the truth is that this kind of voter fraud is exceedingly rare - one study found that just 0.0023 percent of votes are the product of such fraud. What voter ID laws do accomplish, however, is that they disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters, low-income voters and students - all of whom are groups that tend to prefer Democrats over Republicans.

The Des Moines Register poll suggests that voters will oppose such an effort once they understand the real impact of voter ID. Indeed, this is exactly what happened in Minnesota in 2012, where support for a voter ID ballot initiative collapsed as voters learned more about it.

Millhiser may be more bullish on the American people "getting it" than I am. The Rightwing "voter fraud" propaganda has run long and deep, and (unlike The BRAD BLOG) both Democrats and progressives in general took way too long to begin responding to the insidious and very well organized voter suppression strategy by Republicans. Still, I hope he's right and I'm wrong, and that, like so many other issues, the American people will get it right once they truly understand the facts of the long-running and effective GOP scam.

The data points Millhiser cites are encouraging, however, and are in line with a general anecdotal assessment I offered in January, as based on responses from Reddit commenters to the Pennsylvania court that nixed the Keystone State's disenfranchising and unconstitutional polling place Photo ID restriction law passed into law by Republicans there last year.

And, one more point, since the piece above discusses Iowa: A reminder that when the GOP in the Hawkeye State were able to run any type of election they wanted (without having to worry about running afoul of state or federal law or Constitutional issues) in their own 2012 GOP Iowa Caucuses, they chose to not require their own voters present Photo ID before participating, despite working very hard in the year prior to require such restrictions for all voters in the general election.

(In a related point, the Iowa GOP also chose to use hand-counted paper ballots, rather than optical-scan or touch-screen computers in their Presidential caucuses that year as well. Thanks only to that public oversight of the balloting the real winner of the 2012 Iowa GOP Caucus was eventually determined. Without those publicly-counted paper ballots, the man who didn't win, Mitt Romney, who was unofficially declared to be the "winner" on election night in Iowa, would have almost certainly have gone on to become the official "winner" as well, despite receiving fewer votes than Rick Santorum.)

* * *
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2014 2:58pm PT  

The pioneering blogger and indefatigable, uncompromising and unapologetic critic of all things Rightwing, Terry Coppage, better known to the world as "BartCop", has passed away.

He will be sorely missed --- at least by many of us. "BartCop" has been raising hell, taking names and using the Internet to call out the bad guys longer than the word "blog" even existed, much less became known to the world. He also helped established the concept of political "snark" --- of the most viciously biting kind --- before that word existed either.

Fellow pseudonymous blogger "Digby" of Hullabaloo emails today to say: "Many of us early bloggers 'met' at Bartcop, including Atrios, Avedon and me. He's one of the creators of the liberal blogosphere."

In his "Last Word", published today at his site, Coppage asks readers to help "Mrs. Bart" live on...

RIP, Terry. Thank you for everything. :-(

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By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2014 1:27pm PT  

Occasionally --- almost as frequently, if not more so, than actual corporate mainstream news outlets --- The Daily Show produces real journalism.

One such example (among many) was Aasif Mandvi's stinging 2010 report on Nevada's United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union paying temporary non-union workers minimum wage and no benefits to protest Walmart's low wages, lack of benefits and blocking of unions.

Last night on The Daily Show, Mandvi did it again, this time offering a scathing, must-see report on "third-world" health care conditions in...Knoxville, Tennessee...and some stunning Rightwing hypocrisy about it...

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GUEST: L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz on why he voted to ban 'vaping', even while admitting it's 'much safer than smoking'
UPDATED: Former CEO of American Lung Association calls L.A. ban 'misguided', 'step in wrong direction'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2014 5:58pm PT  

On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.

Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".

But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.

My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.

ALSO ON THIS WEEK'S SHOW: A few rants on the Ukraine/Russia hysteria; new fines for 'Big Coal'; Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report and more. Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

[Image: Shutterstock/Gianluca Rasile]

* * *

UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."

Holmes also cites Charles D. Connor, former president and CEO of the American Lung Association, who says, in response to L.A.'s plan to ban e-cig use as if they are tobacco products:

[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.

As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.

E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
...
Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
...
E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.

As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.

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Heavy metals said discharged directly into rivers, streams by Alpha Natural Resources Inc.
$27.5m fine, $200m to be paid to 'reduce illegal toxic discharges'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2014 11:38am PT  

Big news on the Big 'Clean Coal' front today, just breaking from AP's Dina Cappiello [emphasis added]...

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.

The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.

The Associated Press obtained details before the settlement involving Alpha Natural Resources Inc. was filed in court in West Virginia.

The government says the company and its subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times between 2006 and 2013.

The government says they discharged heavy metals harmful to fish and other wildlife directly into rivers and streams.

The companies agreed to take measures to reduce discharges from 79 active coal mines and 25 processing plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In January of 2011, Alpha Natural Resources, then the third largest coal producer in the U.S., purchased Massey Energy Co. for $7.1 billion to become what Bloomberg News described as "the world’s third-largest metallurgical coal producer" and "the second-largest U.S. coal company by sales, with almost 14,000 employees."

The acquisition happened just months after the horrific April 5th, 2010 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, West Virginia. 29 people were killed in the explosion, described as "the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years."

The tragedy at the Upper Big Branch mine would be upstaged just 15 days later, on April 20th, when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and dumping some 5 million barrels of crude oil into the water over the next 87 days.

As coal and oil families mourned in WV and elsewhere, and as the country watched the unprecedented and unstoppable toxic discharge in the Gulf, it seems that Alpha was quietly poisoning rivers and streams in at least five states and fighting, along with fellow supporters of Big Fossil Fuel, to block the nation's transition to clean, renewable energy.

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