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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, July 31, 2015
NYTimes Blows It Again: 'BradCast' 7/30/15
Eric Boehlert of Media Matters on the latest fiasco by the 'paper of record' (and how it always hurts Dems); Also: Medicare turns 50; Trump dominates GOP (loses to Dems)...
'Green News Report' 7/30/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Portland activists blocking Arctic drilling; Wildfires explode across West, getting much worse around world; PLUS: The killing of Cecil the Lion ignites a firestorm of controversy...
Previous GNRs: 7/28/15 - 7/21/15 - Archives...
Michael Mann on 'Bombshell' New Report on Sea Level Rise: 'BradCast' 7/29/15
'Uncertainty, it turns out, was reason to act even faster,' says the Nobel Prize winning climate scientist...
Trump, 'Spousal Rape',
and His Horrible Attorney:
'BradCast' 7/28/15
Plus: Hacks, election debates, pipelines, spying, GOP approval ratings and much more...
'Green News Report' 7/28/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hillary goes big on solar; Jeb wants to eliminate ALL energy subsidies; PLUS: New study suggests worst case sea level rise may happen much sooner than previously thought...
Previous GNRs: 7/21/15 - 7/23/15 - Archives...
Hillary's Climate Plan & the Awful Truth About It: 'BradCast' 7/27/15
Journalist David Roberts of Vox.com; Plus: Bernie beats all GOPers; Trump continues to surge; MUCH MORE...
U.S. House Passes Bill to Block 'Right to Know' About GMOs
Despite recent scientific findings on dangers of GMOs, failure of existing governmental testing standards, Repubs lead fight to keep you in the dark about what's in your food...
Sunday Toons: Guns Trump All
Also in this week's collection from 'PDiddie': Sandra Bland, Donald Trump, Iran, Climate Science and Planned Parenthood...
High Times for Pot Biz; Plus: More Shootings, More Trump: 'BradCast' 7/24/15
Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project joins us to discuss some encouraging news. Also: The Lafayette theater shooting; Perry's felonies; and Trump cracks the code...
Kansas SoS Kobach Defrauding Voters; FBI Whistleblower Coleen Rowley on 'Terrorism': 'BradCast' 7/23/15
A big show. But even bigger when our guest is a TIME Mag Person of the Year!...
'Green News Report' 7/23/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
OH's Kasich jumps into 2016 GOP race - we decipher his climate position; Dem candidate links global warming to ISIS - Fox goes nuts; PLUS: Two CA Guvs slam climate deniers...
Previous GNRs: 7/21/15 - 7/16/15 - Archives...
The Woman Who Led the #BlackLivesMatter Protest Against Sanders & O'Malley in AZ: 'BradCast' 7/22/15
Tia Oso on why she did it and reaction from progressives. Plus: Hillary in trouble? MORE...
Who the Hell is John Kasich and Why is He Running for Prez?: 'BradCast' 7/21/15
Journalist John Michael Spinelli of Ohio's PlunderBund; Plus: Trump soars in polls!...
'Green News Report' 7/21/15
Extreme weather whips CA - bridges collapse and cars burn; June 2015 hottest on record; PLUS: Record warming in Pacific kicks hurricane season off to record start...
America's Top Psychological Org Colluded w/ Bush on Torture: 'BradCast' 7/20/15
Dr. Yosef Brody of Psychologists for Social Responsibility; Plus: Progressive protesters disrupt Sanders; Trump disrupts himself...
Sunday Toons: Plutocracy is Not a Planet
Plus: 'Jade Helm'; Cosby; Iran; Greece and the rest of last week's messes in cartoon form, as curated by 'PDiddie'...
Mother of All GOP Voter Suppression Laws on Trial in NC: 'BradCast' 7/17/15
Nation's Ari Berman, at the trial this week, joins us. Plus: More on Walker/WI corruption & Maine's dumb Guv!...
Walker Wins & Democracy Loses (Again. Big Time.): 'BradCast' 7/16/15
We don't use the phrase 'death of democracy' lightly. But there's good reason to today. Brendan Fischer explains today's outrageous ruling by WI's corrupt Supreme Court...
'Green News Report' 7/16/15
Graham chides fellow GOPers on climate; Cap & trade nets big bucks for states; Dirty coal on the way out in U.S.; PLUS: Boy band joins climate movement...
Iran, Trump Rising & Confederate Monument Worth Keeping?: 'BradCast' 7/15
We cover a lot of ground today, plus listener calls and more (including Brad wrestling w/ tech probs, which is always amusing -- for you!)...
Chart of the Moment: You v. Donor Class
Wondering why you can't have nice things? This is why...
Not a Dime's Worth of Difference? Really?: 'BradCast' 7/14/15
Iran nuke deal; Then Constitutional law expert Ian Millhiser on what really separates the two major parties...
'Green News Report' 7/14/15
Scott Walker's in! Here's his climate position; Warmest June ever for the Western U.S.; Exxon knew about global warming in 1981; PLUS: Latest denialist scam debunked...
Debunking New 'Mini Ice Age' Scam; Man Who Punked Scott Walker: 'BradCast' 7/13/15
Guests: Physicist Joe Romm; Ian 'David Koch' Murphy...
#FeelTheBern
Sanders is drawing crowds far larger than any other candidate, Dem or Repub, in the race for the 2016 Presidential nomination...
Stories Behind the Stories: On Confederate Flag, Trump, Marriage: 'BradCast' 7/10/15
Facts behind the headlines you may not have heard! Also: More on nation's dumbest Guv; Listener complaint...
Good Election & Campaign Finance News!: 'BradCast' 7/9/15
Prof. David Schultz on new rulings and how campaign finance can be reformed right now!; Plus: SC, Trump...
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...


By Brad Friedman on 8/7/2013 1:45pm PT  

I was watching a segment last night on Rachel Maddow's show with Desi Doyen, concerning the recent warnings issued to Americans and the evacuations at dozens of U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The actions were taken due, we are told, to "chatter" detected by intelligence services of the possibility of attacks by al-Qaeda (and/or "associated forces") to American interests in the region.

Maddow framed the actions being taken by the U.S. government in the context of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo --- "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" --- ignored by George W. Bush just one month before the 9/11 attacks. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that memo.

In her conversation with NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Maddow discussed the memory of that infamously ignored warning, and what effect it may have on the way the U.S. government now reacts to such detected threats. "In a post-9/11 world", the argument goes, President Obama and all future Presidents are likely to be very conscious of not underestimating such memos and "chatter," in the event that an attack does come about, for which they could later be held accountable for having ignored the "clear signs." (Not that George W. Bush or his administration was ever held accountable for such things, but that's a different matter.)

While watching the conversation about the dozens of closed diplomatic posts, I said to Desi, "I bet they're wildly over-reacting. It's not about post-9/11. It's about post-Benghazi."

In either an abundance or over-abundance of caution, U.S. embassies and consulates are being warned and shuttered and Americans are being air-lifted out of countries. It's not the memory of 9/11, at this point, that the government seems to be reacting to. It's as much the Republican reaction and/or over-reaction and/or political bludgeon made of the deaths of four U.S. personnel at our diplomatic outpost in Libya last year that seems to be leading to this reaction and/or over-reaction by the government.

Indeed, moments after I had uttered that thought to Desi, Mitchell said to Maddow: "I think, Rachel, that this is not just post-9/11, this is post-Benghazi."

The way our government now reacts to such events is not necessarily based on common sense, it seems to be as much based on fear. Not necessarily fear of being attacked, but fear of missing some important warning or another and then being held politically accountable for it later.

Since so much of this is kept secret --- except for stuff classified as "secret" and "top secret" that is routinely leaked by government officials who, unlike whistleblowers, are almost never held accountable for such leaks of classified information --- we are largely left to simply "trust" that the government is accurately portraying the threat, whether they are or not, and whether they are simply over-reacting out of caution and/or political ass-covering.

All of this, then, adds an interesting light to a curious story reported this week by Al-Jazeera English's Jason Leopold (formerly of Truthout) highlighting the government's seemingly bizarre claims that they have concerns that al-Qaeda may "attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo" or otherwise, somehow, "undermine security at the facility" if too much is known about what goes on there.

But that's not the most interesting aspect of the story...

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

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UPDATED: NSA domestic surveillance data used for IRS investigations...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2013 6:35am PT  

[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]

On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.

The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...

I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.

While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...

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

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Wisconsin Republican becomes unlikely champion of voting rights, in direct contrast with his own party's shameful leadership...
By Brad Friedman on 8/5/2013 2:51pm PT  

[This article cross-published by Salon...]

Full Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG has not been shy in calling out Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for some fairly outrageous stuff over the years.

Who can forget, for example, the time when, as Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2005, he shut down the microphones and lights in the middle of an oversight hearing on the PATRIOT Act when he did not approve of the testimony offered by witnesses called by Democrats?

It was outrageous, it was inappropriate, and we reported it as such at the time, just as we did in 2011 when, in a bit of déjà vu, he similarly shut down a town hall event in WI after protesters there expressed outrage over the Republicans' radical anti-union law recently adopted in the state.

So it is with much sincerity and great appreciation that we "call him out" today, not for outrageous behavior, but for his outspoken and unwavering support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the very heart of that landmark civil rights legislation has been violently carved out by a 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/4/2013 1:25pm PT  

In this hilarious segment of The Daily Show (broken into three different clips online, sorry!), John Oliver first presents the case in favor of livable wages for fast food workers...

Next, Fox "News" --- and, most embarrassingly, Neil Cavuto --- unabashedly offer the (extraordinarily flawed) case against it...

Finally, Tracy Burns, also of Fox "News", offers the most embarrassing argument of all...

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Mark Kessler's profanity-laced, automatic-weapons punctuated video-taped tirade against John Kerry, U.N. Arms Trade Treaty and 'libtards everywhere' earns small town genius a 30-day suspension...
By Brad Friedman on 8/2/2013 1:37pm PT  

This guy is quite a piece of work. It might be easy to laugh him off as just another disinformed NRA stooge, except for his status as the Police Chief --- and only member of the force --- in the small town of Gilberton, PA.

As seen in the first of the videos below, super genius Chief Mark Kessler calls Vietnam war hero, long-time U.S. Senator and now Sec. of State John Kerry a "piece of shit traitor" before continuing with a long string of expletives followed by a long burst from his very manly automatic weapon. But none of that is really the offensive part.

The offensive part is that a Police Chief (or, anyone, frankly) would be so duped by National Rifle Association (NRA) propaganda that they'd actually believe a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty designed to keep arms out of the hands of despotic regimes, human rights abusers, warlords, pirates and drug lords around the world, is designed for --- or would even allow for --- arms to be taken away from the American public or to specifically undermine the 2nd Amendment.

Here's Gilberton's genius Police Chief "informing" his followers. [NOT SAFE FOR WORK!]...

For NRA patsies like Kessler, much less a Police Chief, to be dumb enough, or incurious enough, to not have already learned this on their own, the UN treaty he references (which would still need to be ratified by the U.S. Senate, even if signed by either Kerry or the President of the United States, before it had the force of law), specifically exempts the internal domestic laws of countries that are parties to the treaty.

As clearly noted on the very first page of its preamble, the Arms Trade Treaty [PDF] reads:

The States Parties to this Treaty, Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations...Reaffirming the sovereign right of any State to regulate and control conventional arms exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system...

It all seems pretty clear, to those able to read, anyway. But that didn't stop the terrorist-enabling NRA's top spokeshole and con-man, Wayne LaPierre, from disinforming the public, his membership, and dupes like Kessler, by loudly proclaiming the treaty does precisely the opposite of what the treaty actually says...

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

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But what it is ain't exactly clear...
By Brad Friedman on 8/1/2013 6:05am PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I covered both the nation's most extreme voter suppression law in North Carolina (and the facts behind its passage) and the precedent setting verdict in the Bradley Manning case.

But at the heart of it all is something else --- a primal, patriot scream perhaps, as exemplified by the arrest of 83-year old Robert Plummer, Jr. at the state capitol in NC last week (Plummer is a Korean War hero who was also arrested on the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Martin Luther King on Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL during the 1965 march for voting rights, and by the arrests of 80- and 85-year old Joan and Tom Kemble for singing in the Wisconsin state capitol in the same dark week.

The Kembles joined me live on the show to talk about their arrests at the daily sing-along that has been going on every day since Gov. Scott Walker's radical anti-union bill was passed two years ago, and to sing a song or two before their next trip to the pokey for peacefully singing in protest to petition their government for redress of grievances. (Please help all of the WI arrestees pay their legal bills and fines at SolidaritySingAlong.org!)

As usual, there was much more, including Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report, in between. I hope you'll give it a listen. I think you'll enjoy it.

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Two year old daily sing-along protest abruptly halted by ambitious Gov. Scott Walker's Capitol police...
By Brad Friedman on 7/29/2013 5:23pm PT  

It's not only North Carolina which is passing extreme Rightwing laws and then slapping the cuffs on those meddlesome octogenarian war hero delinquents displaying the temerity to exercise their 1st Amendment rights in protest against them.

In Wisconsin, where demonstrators against far Right Republican Governor Scott Walker have been holding a protest sing-along in the state capitol building every single day, without incident, for over two years since the passage of a radical anti-union bill, police have begun to use a similar tactic.

Below is video of Tom and Joan Kemble, the 85- and 80-year old parents of journalist Rebecca Kemble of The Progressive, being hauled away for singing peacefully in the state Capitol last week. Read Kemble's full story here where she notes: "It was awkward to be part of the swarm of journalists crowding around my own parents as the police were closing in on them."

"When Mom was surrounded by cops who were handcuffing the woman next to her and Mom looked her in the eye singing the verse of We Shall Overcome that says, 'We are not afraid,' I burst into tears," writes Kemble. I must admit, so did I when watching the video.

"The courage, care for her friend and incredibly centered and peaceful defiance she showed in the face of the overblown police action was deeply moving," Kemble continued. "And when Mom and Dad were handcuffed and led downstairs singing the words, 'Walker won’t be governor, Walker won’t be governor, Walker won’t be governor someday,' my daughter’s heart swelled with pride."

"So far, seventy-nine Wisconsinites have been arrested and ticketed," at the "Solidarity Sing Along", reports WI native John Nichols at The Nation today, "from 85-year-olds to young moms with kids."

Seriously, what the hell have we come to in this country?!...

[Hat-tip Nicole Desautels Schulte at Facebook.]

* * *

UPDATE 8/1/2013: Joan and Tom Kemble were my guests on this week's BradCast. And they even sang for us! Listen here...

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Files papers seeking requirement of federal preclearance for voting laws in TX, promises similarly aggressive action elsewhere...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/29/2013 1:47pm PT  

The Department of Justice (DoJ) will not idly remain on the sidelines as the GOP seeks to illegally game the electoral system in the wake of what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to as the "deeply disappointing and flawed" Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

That decision, which carved out the very heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by finding unconstitutional the formula used to determine which jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination are required to "pre-clear" new election laws with the federal government before they can be enacted, has been a dramatic "setback", as Holder described it, to the voting rights movement, and has even proven to be a great leap forward for vote suppressors.

But, in a speech last week to the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, Holder signaled his intentions to fight back against the activist Court:

I have already directed the Department’s Civil Rights Division to shift resources to the enforcement of a number of federal voting laws not affected by the Supreme Court’s decision --- including the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act [VRA], prohibiting voting discrimination based on race, color, or language.

And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.

The DoJ then promptly filed a July 25, 2013 "Statement of Interest" in Perez v. Texas, a federal court case challenging the imposition of new Congressional redistricting maps in the wake of the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, despite the fact that both the DoJ and a panel of federal judges nixed the same map last year after it was found to have been purposefully discriminatory just last year.

The DoJ argued in its filing last week that, because the evidence presented both in Perez and in Texas v. United States, revealed intentional violations of the 14th and 15th amendments in the redistricting schemes at issue, the court should impose a ten year preclearance requirement upon the State of Texas as an equitable remedy available pursuant to Section 3(c) of the VRA.

In short, while SCOTUS gutted the VRA's existing Section 4 formula for determining jurisdictions to be covered by Section 5 pre-clearance requirements, it left Section 3, which allows for jurisdictions to be added or "bailed in" to the list of those subject to preclearance intact. The DoJ now wants Texas added to the list of such jurisdictions.

It is of critical importance to note, however, that Holder's Urban League speech made clear that his intentions of pushing back were neither limited to Texas nor to Section 3.

"This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last," Holder vowed.

He then stated (emphasis added): "My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found."

As observed by University of California Irvine Law Prof. Rick Hasen, Holder's pledge to have the DoJ "use whatever tools it has remaining in its arsenal to protect minority voting rights" is "a big deal."

It's a "big deal" not just because of the creative use of Section 3 in Perez, but also because the DoJ is joining a case originally brought "under Section 2 of the [VRA] to enforce the guarantees of the [14th & 15th] Amendments against racial discrimination in voting." The DoJ's actions here suggests that they are finally prepared to add the power and resources of the federal government to legal efforts to protect the right to vote that had been primarily made during the last election cycle by privately-funded, public interest groups like the ACLU and League of Women Voters...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2013 5:19pm PT  

Earlier this week, Joe Conason, Editor-in-Chief of The National Memo, tweeted out word that he would be interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). He was seeking questions for the Senator who has been a member of the Select Intelligence Committee since 2001, and among the most outspoken in his attempts to inform the public of the massive, out-of-control U.S. surveillance state. Wyden offered a detailed speech on this topic earlier this week, as Ernie Canning reported here and as I discussed on this week's BradCast.)

[DISCLOSURE: I contribute articles, from time to time, at National Memo.]

I sent a couple of questions to Conason via Twitter (here and here), and I'm happy to see that, during the course of his interview with Wyden on the surveillance issues, he asked those questions, almost verbatim --- particularly the first one, the answer to which became the basis for National Memo's headline to the interview: "Wyden: How We Forced the NSA to Curtail Email Spying Programs".

The news central to Wyden's answer --- at least it was news to me, since I missed this item if it has otherwise been reported before this --- is that, according to the Senator, "the Obama administration a few weeks ago said that they had closed the [email surveillance] program down for what they called operational reasons."

That would be very good news, if so, and along with this week's debate in the U.S. House, yet another apparent positive outcome to the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Here are my two specific questions and Conason's use of them in the interview, along with the answers provided by Wyden...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2013 6:35am PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, we spent zero time on the royal baby or Anthony Weiner! You're welcome!

Instead, economic policy reporter/muckraker David Dayen joined me for a quick discussion about Obama's "big" economic speech at Knox College in IL on Wednesday afternoon; Then it was on to Sen. Ron Wyden's Tuesday warning about NSA "secret" surveillance laws (and we took a bunch of great listener phone calls along with it); We spent some time on the high-ranking Kentucky election official fraudsters convicted of 156 years but now ordered by an appellate court to receive a new trial and the massive voter suppression legislation moving its way through the North Carolina statehouse; and more!

It was a very lively show! Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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First surveillance-related floor vote since Snowden disclosures opposed by White House, secretly lobbied against by NSA head, supported by majority of Democrats and some Republicans
UPDATED: Congressional opponents of unlimited domestic surveillance vow to fight on...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 7:22pm PT  

A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.

The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.

Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."

* * *

UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 11:10am PT  

"If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we are all going to live to regret it," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned during a lengthy but powerful speech before the Center for American Progress on Tuesday.

In his remarks, Wyden, who has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, left no room for anyone to doubt the liberating impact of the recent revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For years, Wyden said, he had wanted to expose the extent to which the Executive Branch of our government and the leaders of the "intelligence community" had deceived the public about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, but, due to Senate's rules in regard to classified material, he was "not even allowed to tap the truth out in Morse code."

That roadblock has been removed. "The disclosures by an NSA contractor lit the surveillance world on fire," Wyden told the assembled students, journalists and policy wonks yesterday. "Several provisions of secret law that were secret were no longer secret, and the American people were finally able to see some of the things we [he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)] had been raising the alarm about for years."

That alarm centered not only on the unprecedented extent of the NSA's still-expanding, domestic surveillance capabilities but also, as he explained, on the unnecessary and dangerous, post-9/11 development of a secret system of laws that threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

These provisions, he warned, allow "the Executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, non-adversarial court and occasional secret Congressional hearings"...

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Massive weekly protests reclaiming the moral high ground and confounding the 'Tea Party' in the once-moderate Tar Heel State...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2013 1:39pm PT  

I've always wondered why non-Rightwing Christians have allowed Rightwingers to take "God" and "Jesus" as their own, particularly since progressive principles are far more in line with those said to be the teachings of Jesus.

The folks in North Carolina --- who are now under siege by Republican control of both congressional houses and the governorship for the first time in 150 years --- have been going about reclaiming the moral high ground with a series of massive (and growing larger) "Moral Monday" protests at the state house, so far resulting in about 900 arrests for civil disobedience as of this week's twelfth consecutive Monday protest.

The protests are being held by a wide coalition of groups in response to the radical Republican legislation --- much of it written out of state by the Koch-funded corporatist lobby, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) --- meant to see the state government shut down women's health clinics, cut education funding and, of particular note, suppress voters by truncating early voting, ending Sunday voting, banning NC's successful Election Day registration program, instituting tax penalties to parents whose children vote at their college residences, and by putting in place draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions. (See Ari Berman today at The Nation for more on the NC Republican's attempt to institute all of these "extreme voter suppression measures".)

At Salon, Kristin Rawls explains that the "Moral Monday" protests in NC, "that include support for LGBT and abortion rights", seem to be "confounding to the Tea Party", but not to the many groups of faith (as well as "atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths in attendance every week") who are finally taking back the moral high ground from the Rightwing hypocrites who have claimed it, but never earned it, for so much of the past decade.

It's an interesting read, and an interesting phenomenon that, Rawls notes, "is supported by a 150-organization coalition spearheaded by the NC-NAACP that includes everything from Occupy Raleigh to Planned Parenthood-NC to the NC Association of Educators."

Her point about why the voter suppression laws Republicans are now trying to pass are so important for the NC GOP radicals, is explained in this key passage...

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By Brad Friedman on 7/17/2013 8:12pm PT  

On today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, we covered the facts concerning the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman verdict and the protests here in L.A. big time.

In particular, we detailed the lies told by L.A.'s NBC4 and the LAPD about the weekend's peaceful protests, as well as the laudatory behavior of at least one very good cop on the force (LAPD's Capt. Cory Palka, in case you're wondering) who deserves a big-time promotion, in my opinion.

We also had time for a lot of calls from around L.A., South Central, Crenshaw District and beyond as folks (including myself) had plenty to say about it all. We tossed in a bit of NSA, James Comey and the horrendous Glenn Beck to boot. So, enjoy!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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'I, like you, have difficulties with what happened 3,000 miles away,' Capt. Cory Palka tells peaceful demonstrators in Hollywood
'We will continue to protect and honor your Constitutional rights to march in protest'...
By Brad Friedman on 7/16/2013 3:35pm PT  

Last night we detailed irresponsible behavior and reporting by the LAPD and Los Angeles' NBC affiliate in regard to false reports of "$15,000 worth of damage" said caused by Trayvon Martin protesters who, the reporter claimed, had "stormed" a hotel in Hollywood on Sunday night.

As we reported exclusively last night, two spokespersons from the hotel in question disputed the LAPD/NBC4 reports to The BRAD BLOG, describing them as "false." Moreover, video --- even the video shown by NBC4 --- available from a day of largely peaceful protests the day after the George Zimmerman "not guilty" verdict was announced in Florida, seems to have revealed violence that day only by baton-wielding police, who also fired rubber bullets at demonstrators at various points throughout the day.

While the behavior of corporate media and police in the instances described last night was reprehensible and dangerous, at the same time it's also worth highlighting some of the responsible behavior by the LAPD that night, particularly after a very long day of protests which cropped up throughout the day and night at various locations across the city.

One such moment very much worth highlighting occurred at the height of Sunday's protests in Hollywood, not long after midnight, just in front of the CNN building on Sunset Blvd. NBC4's NewsChopper4 reporter Megan Reyes (who, as we discussed in the previous article, had falsely reported "rowdy behavior" by protesters "breaking glass" at the W Hotel in Hollywood, among other misinformation), described this particular group of 50 or so protesters in Hollywood as "the largest pocket of protesters in the city" at that point.

What she could not report on from several thousand feet in the air, however, was what was actually going on on the ground, as captured by video web-streamer "PMbeers". The live, on-the-ground reporting by the live web-streamer revealed not only peaceful, organized discussion of planning for next steps by demonstrators and their hopes of meeting with public officials in coming days, but an absolutely fascinating moment captured on video (see below) when LAPD Captain Cory Palka addressed the group of protesters directly, respectfully and peacefully...

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