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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Leftover Turkey Toons
'PDiddie' warms up the oven to roast a few of the folks who deserve it in his latest collection of Thanksgiving week's best political toons...
The 'F' Word:
'BradCast' 11/27/15
Guest Host Nicole Sandler is joined by Howie Klein of Down with Tyranny and Blue America PAC on the rise of Trump, Grayson's endorsement of Clinton, and how marijuana helped him fight cancer...
Serve & Protect?:
'BradCast' 11/25/15
The Guardian's Steven W. Thrasher joins guest host Nicole Sandler to discuss two different and disturbing attacks on African Americans...
Alan Grayson Explains His Hillary Endorsement: 'BradCast' 11/24/15
Guest host Nicole Sandler's tough interview with the FL Congressman seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate...
'Green News Report' 11/24/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Carbon tax coming to Alberta tar sands; Obama: Paris conf must proceed; Senate Repubs to monkeywrench int'l agreement; PLUS: FDA okays GMO salmon for humans...
Previous GNRs: 11/19/15 - 11/17/15 - Archives...
Sunday 'This Means War' Toons
PDiddie's must-see collection of the past shameful week's best -- and most dead-on and occassionally horrifying -- toons...
ISIS Wins in US House; Plus: TPP, NAFTA and the Return of KXL?: 'BradCast' 11/19/15
With guest David Dayen of Salon, Fiscal Times, The Intercept, et al...
'Green News Report' 11/19/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
House GOP's war against climate scientists; October 2015 was hottest on record; Fossil fuel subsidies at $500B/year; UK phases out coal; PLUS: Canada kills another tar sands pipeline...
Previous GNRs: 11/17/15 - 11/12/15 - Archives...
Home of the Brave:
'BradCast' 11/18/15
GOP Governors and Presidential candidates help ISIS dreams come true by turning against refugees from war-torn Syria, as some Americans follow their lead by turning against fellow citizens after the Paris attacks...
How NOT to Respond to the Paris Terror Attacks: 'BradCast' 11/17/15
Anti-war author David Swanson on how we got here, how the media and politicians continue to make it worse, and what we must do instead...
'Green News Report' 11/17/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Climate gets short shrift in 2nd Dem Debate; Yes, climate change is a NatSec threat; Intn'l climate talks in Paris after attacks; PLUS: NY's Cuomo vetoes major NatGas project...
Previous GNRs: 11/12/15 - 11/10/15 - Archives...
A Word About Paris; Coverage of CBS' Dem Debate in Iowa: 'BradCast' 11/16/15
Salon's Heather Digby Parton and longtime GOPer Fred Karger on the debate the DNC didn't want you to watch...
Sunday Somewhat Horrible Toons
PDiddie's round-up of a number of smart toons in the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris...
'Very Similar, If Not Identical': DoJ's Big Tobacco Prosecutor on Case Against ExxonMobil: 'BradCast' 11/12/15
Attorney Sharon Eubanks on RICO, conspiracy and the big lies of Big Tobacco and Big Oil...
'Green News Report' 11/12/15
2016 Republican and Democratic Presidential candidates talk climate, energy, and the path forward in GOP Debate and Dem Forum...
Decoding and Debunking Fox Biz Channel's GOP Debate: 'BradCast' 11/11/15
Smartest post-debate analysis anywhere! With journalists Heather Digby Parton and David Dayen...
Impossible Results for OH Pot Measure?: 'BradCast' 11/10/15
Screenshots suggest disappearing 'Yes' votes; OH SoS offers us explanation. PLUS: Calls for KY hand-count...
'Green News Report' 11/10/15
Obama rejects KXL; Big Coal caught lying about climate change; ExxonMobil facing probe; PLUS: 2nd cyclone for Yemen & Sea World responds to critics...
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...
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...

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...

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...

The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

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...

The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

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...

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...

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 9/4/2013 8:13pm PT  

The bulk of today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio was focused on the mess that is Obama's Syria policy.

Aside from tons of callers (I'm tired of "experts" and "pundits", wanted to hear from actual people), and one of the most perfect "bloopers" ever (a brilliantly incorrect sound cue played, in the first part of the show, by the engineer who was in today instead of our usual one), we also spent a few minutes with anti-war activist and author (and occasional BRAD BLOG guest blogger) David Swanson on what he would recommend, in lieu of military strikes, for accountability for the use of chemical weapons. His main response to that question: Get thee to the Hague and file war crimes charges, if that's the case the U.S. is making against Syria!

Lots of interesting perspectives on today's show, almost all of which vary tremendously from the nonsense we're hearing from the Congress and the Administration and the establishment media this week. I'd welcome your feedback as well.

We also quickly hit on a few voting issues, such as our good news today on the TX GOP's most-likely-doomed Photo ID law and well as a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report as usual! Enjoy!

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

By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2013 6:05am PT  

With Brad Friedman

Greg Abbott, the Lone Star State's Attorney General, made a fool out of himself recently when he issued his public response to a U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit challenging the Texas Republicans' new polling place Photo ID law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and of the U.S. Constitution.

The "facts" he publicly offered in the law's defense were wholly misleading and, worse, plainly inaccurate. But if Abbott thought that was embarrassing, he may have no idea what he's in store for when he actually shows up in a court of law, seeking to defend the Photo ID law which Texas Republicans enacted in 2011 as part of a desperate attempt to cling to power.

Rapidly shifting voter demographics are quickly working against the Lone Star Republican Party. The numbers are leading them into a panic over an ever-increasing minority population and rising voting rates to go with it. So they have been, since 2005, attempting to squelch the inevitable by trying to tamp down minority turnout any way possible. But Texas Republicans are not only in a battle with demographics. The key facts about the Lone Star State's Photo ID restrictions --- as already determined in a court of law --- are not on their side either.

In both United States v. Texas, the DoJ's newly filed legal challenge to the Texas Photo ID restriction law, and in Veasey v. Perry, a separate federal lawsuit filed by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) and later joined by Dallas County, the plaintiffs not only set forth allegations but facts already found to be true last year by a unanimous three-judge U.S. District Court panel.

Those already established facts reveal that the state's Photo ID law (SB 14) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it imposes unreasonable, and often impossible, burdens upon the right of the poor to vote that would likely result in disenfranchisement. The three judge panel further found, via "undisputed record evidence", as they described it, that a disproportionate percentage of poor Texans who would be subject to such disenfranchisement are Hispanic and African-American.

At the time, however, despite establishing those uncontested facts, those Constitutional concerns were not the basis of the case in front of the federal court in question. But they are now.

Given the Lone Star State's acknowledgment during the previous litigation that it could not contest the facts already on record, the Texas Republicans' gambit to try and turn back time at the polls, or, at least, slow it down as the demographic clock continues to tick against them, is exceedingly unlikely to work. Here's why...

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

President says 'all of us should be accountable' for military action against Syria; Places ball in Congress' court...for now...
By Brad Friedman on 8/31/2013 1:06pm PT  

That headline shouldn't have to be ALL CAPS, since it's the rule of law and all, barring a "national emergency", which clearly this is not. But it's a reflection of how much Executive Power has changed over the past several decades, particularly over the last one.

It's also a reflection of how much many "experts" and pundits had expected an announcement that military action was about to happen, or had already had. That's not what the President's remarks today turned out to be about.

In a statement from the Rose Garden --- with the chanting of anti-war protesters heard in the distance --- President Obama announced that "after careful deliberation," he has "decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets," in the wake of their alleged August 21 chemical weapons attack against more than 1,400 citizens in a Damascus suburb.

Charging the attack "presents a serious danger to our national security," Obama said military action against the regime "would be designed to be limited in duration and scope," and meant to "hold the Assad regime accountable for their use of chemical weapons, deter this kind of behavior, and degrade their capacity to carry it out."

He explained that while the military is prepared "to strike whenever we choose...our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now. And I’m prepared to give that order."

And then, here was the most newsworthy portion (even if it shouldn't be so):

But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests, I’m also mindful that I’m the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. And that’s why I’ve made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.

Over the last several days, we’ve heard from members of Congress who want their voices to be heard. I absolutely agree. So this morning, I spoke with all four congressional leaders, and they’ve agreed to schedule a debate and then a vote as soon as Congress comes back into session.

"All of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote," he explained, dropping the ball squarely back into Congress' court --- for now.

He also stated that while "the country will be stronger...and our actions will be even more effective" with a Congressional debate and vote to back action, he says he believes he has "the authority to carry out this military action without specific Congressional authorization." He did not state what that "authority" is, however, nor if he will exercise it should Congress vote against authorization, as the British Parliament surprisingly did earlier this week.

The President further offered his argument as to why the United States must take action in this case. [The complete text and video of Obama's remarks are posted at the bottom of this article.]

Congress is not currently scheduled to reconvene from their summer break until September 9. The President did not call them back into session earlier, and, as we pointed out several days ago, while many members have signaled they are willing to come back, if called upon by the President to do so, few if any have actually called on Congressional leaders to summon members back to Washington on their own.

That the President is appearing, for now, to follow the rule of law and the Constitution, and hand back some power to Congress that has, for so long, been usurped by the Executive Branch, left many on Twitter both pleased and agog today. Here's a sampling...

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

U.S. releases intel assessment of evidence on purported use of chemical weapons by Syria --- So now what?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/30/2013 1:39pm PT  

Late last night we flagged the New York Times report claiming that "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow," following the UK Parliament's stunning vote to reject military intervention there, after Prime Minister David Cameron's government released a fairly thin intelligence assessment and a less-than-persuasive legal theory for taking such action.

Today, the U.S. released its own unclassified intelligence community assessment of what they describe as "high confidence" that the Syrian regime --- at least someone within it --- launched a large chemical weapons attack on neighborhoods near Damascus on August 21.

The attack, the assessment says, resulted in the death of 1,429 people, "including at least 426 children". According to the document, the "high confidence" assessment is "the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation."

Along with the release of that assessment, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry offered a very straightforward statement (worth reading in full). Please note, however, that the intel assessment, as well as Kerry's statement, did not include the actual first-hand evidence from which the intelligence community is making their assessment, only their evaluation and summary of that evidence. The Administration says they are sharing more of the actual, still-classified assessment and/or evidence with members of Congress.

Kerry noted during his remarks that the intelligence community has been "more than mindful of the Iraq experience," and promised, "We will not repeat that moment." He also added: "the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility."

For his part, the President, in a statement made just before a White House meeting this afternoon, announced that he has made no final decision on action in Syria, but is currently considering a "limited narrow act" which, he says, "in no way involves boots on the ground" or a "long term campaign."

While both Kerry's remarks and Obama's brief comments referenced "consultation" with Congress, neither noted either the legal or Constitutional requirement to receive authorization from them, as we called for earlier, before launching a military intervention, "limited", "narrow" or otherwise, other than in a case of "national emergency".

Both men did, however, offer the case that we must demonstrate the world means what it says about the use of chemical weapons, as banned by the Geneva Convention after WWI and again in various treaties in the nearly 100 years since then.

With all of that in mind --- and, for now, taking the U.S. intelligence assessment at face value for the purposes of this article --- the central point here seems to be that, while killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people with conventional weapons is, apparently, tolerable, using chemical weapons to kill some of them is a war crime. And war crimes, we are told, are a bridge too far.


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

By Brad Friedman on 8/29/2013 10:30pm PT  

In a fairly remarkable defeat to the UK Conservative Party's Prime Minister David Cameron, the British Parliament voted against intervention in Syria in a preliminary vote today. That could change in a subsequent vote, but, hey, at least they met, debated and voted! And that was after Cameron's government actually, publicly offered their legal basis for such intervention and an intelligence assessment [PDF] they claim supports it.

Meanwhile, back in these United States, John Nichols details the several bi-partisan --- and surprisingly robust --- Congressional letters calling on President Obama to seek Congressional approval before taking military action against Syria. So far, over 150 members of Congress have signed on to those efforts.

In all, the New York Times concluded this morning (even before the vote in Parliament): "momentum for Western military strikes against Syria appeared to slow."

While a healthy portion of the U.S. Congress members speaking up are progressive Democrats, interestingly (though, perhaps, not surprisingly?), there are far more Republicans, this time around, joining the effort to call on the President to wait for an Article 1, Section 8 declaration of war from Congress --- or, at least, some form of authorization from the Legislative branch --- as clearly envisioned (an actual conservative would say "required") by the U.S. Constitution.

It's nice to see Congress, this time around --- at least more than 150 of its members --- calling on the President to do the right thing. On the other hand, Congress has its own responsibility here...

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

PLUS: EFF's Trevor Timm on FISA Court and the U.S. Secrecy State...
By Brad Friedman on 8/28/2013 8:20pm PT  

What was the one, most important takeaway from today and Saturday's 50th Anniversary commemoration of MLK's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"? The one issue that seemed to make it into the remarks of just about everyone who spoke?

That's what we discussed during the first part of today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast, along with sound clip highlights from some of the most notable speakers. (Hint: If you didn't hear the fiery remarks of Rep. John Lewis --- the youngest speaker at the original 1963 remarks --- on Saturday, you'll now get to hear them in full.)

In the second part of the show, we were joined by Trevor Timm of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the Freedom of the Press Foundation to discuss the release of the secret FISA Court's 2011 decision finding the government had misled the court multiple times, and collected the emails of tens of thousands of Americans not involved in terrorism in any way; and about the massive secrecy state we discussed in The BRAD BLOG's special investigative report this week.

Also, Desi Doyen joined us as usual with the latest Green News Report, the one with one of my favorite all-time endings! Enjoy!

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

By Brad Friedman on 8/27/2013 7:26pm PT  

Warren Rojas at Roll Call reported some encouraging news yesterday.

Jason Thigpen, a rookie Republican candidate for the U.S. House in North Carolina, is swimming against the GOP tide. He is describing the state's new voter suppression law --- passed on party lines by a super-majority Republican legislature and signed by the state's new Republican Governor --- for what it is: a "turd" meant to keep legal voters (certain ones, the ones who tend to vote for Democrats) from casting their legal vote.

He's also been able to see through the GOP/Fox "News" smokescreen about the facts in regard to in-person impersonation polling place voter fraud, namely, that it is virtually non-existent.

We've called NC's new law the worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era. But Thigpen, described as a "political newcomer looking to unseat Rep. Walter B. Jones (R-NC)" in next year's primary, was even far more direct than that...

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

Some redactions in the document, they tell The BRAD BLOG, appear solely to protect government, not national security...
By Brad Friedman on 8/26/2013 11:53am PT  

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are, as a people, inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings," President John F. Kennedy declared to the American Newspaper Publishers Association at New York's Waldorf-Astoria in 1961.

"No official of my Administration," he continued, "whether his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know."

But, that was then.

The U.S. government's legal requests for secret surveillance are, themselves, filed in secret at the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and the FISC's rulings on those secret requests are themselves a secret as well.

Last week, however, after more than a year of legal wrangling and lawsuits, the non-partisan Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) was finally successful in gaining the public release of one of those secret rulings, an October 2011 decision by the Court finding that the government had, on several occasions, offered the Court "a substantial misrepresentation regarding the scope of a major collection program ... buttressed by repeated inaccurate statements."

At the very same time, as they were about to be compelled by a court to release the decision EFF sought, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, "in the interest of increased transparency," released two other redacted court decisions as well. In all, they revealed the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional collection of the emails of tens of thousands U.S. citizens who had nothing to do with terrorism investigations. The documents were all posted on a new Tumblr website created, Clapper said in a statement posted to the site, "to provide the public with direct access to factual information related to the lawful foreign surveillance activities carried out by the Intelligence Community."

As expected, some sections of the October 2011 FISC decision were heavily redacted. Other parts, while redacted, were revelatory nonetheless about the nature of our government's secret surveillance programs. And still other portions seem to be redacted for no legitimate national security reason at all. As a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates, security veterans and whistleblowers describe to The BRAD BLOG, the reason for some of the redactions appears to be little more than an attempt to keep the government from embarrassing itself --- or even from revealing evidence of its own crimes.

Here's one of the more disturbing revelations, from a footnote, in the previously secret October 2011 FISC decision...

Here's one of the more heavily redacted portions of the previously secret 85-page ruling that rejected a secret surveillance request by the government, after determining that the government had repeatedly misled the Court in its secret filings...

But here is one snippet about which we specifically requested comment from a number of national security journalists, FOIA advocates (including the EFF) and former national security agency veterans and whistleblowers. Note, just for now, the one sentence highlighted in yellow...

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

50 years later, the message remains...And so does this man's sign!...
By Brad Friedman on 8/24/2013 2:42pm PT  

By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2013 6:05am PT  

Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint was filed in hopes of blocking the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law, newly re-enacted by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the very heart of the VRA (the Section 4 formula used to determine jurisdictions covered by its Section 5 preclearance requirements for new voting laws) last June.

How did the TX AG respond to the DoJ suit?

Here is the very first line of Abbott's embarrassing website response to it posted yesterday...

AUSTIN --- “Just days after the U.S. Department of Justice arrested a Texas woman for illegally voting five times in the same election, the Obama administration is suing to stop Texas’ commonsense voter ID law. The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes, but do help prevent illegal votes. Voter IDs have nothing to do with race and they are free to anyone who needs one.

Ya know what else "Voter IDs have nothing to do with"? The absentee ballot fraud committed by the woman cited by Greg Abbott above in the very first line of his response to the DoJ!

Here (courtesy of Ryan Reilly) is the very first page of the indictment against the woman cited by Abbott as a reason why the state needs their polling place Photo ID restriction law. [Red circle added for TX AGs who may have trouble reading their own legal filings]...

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

Offer new opportunity for AG Holder to make good on promise to use 'every tool' at his disposal to fight discriminatory voting laws...
UPDATE: DoJ filed suit today, seeking to block TX Photo ID Law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2013 12:54pm PT  

Last week, civil rights groups filed two lawsuits in a North Carolina U.S. District Court, seeking to block what Brad Friedman aptly described as "the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era."

The Tar Heel State has a sordid history of official discrimination, a history that includes 30 successful challenges to discriminatory voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) over the past 30 years. Until the recent Republican takeover of the state, NC had become somewhat more progressive in the area of election law, even allowing for same day registration and voting which is lacking in even most of the more progressive states in the union.

Then, everything changed. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a sweeping new election "reform" bill. The breadth the new law is unprecedented. It targets "nearly every aspect of the voting process," according to one of the new lawsuits. Both complaints allege that the newly minted Voter Information Verification Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) reflects nothing less than a deliberate, racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

The two federal lawsuits are NAACP v. McCrory [PDF] and League of Women Voters v. North Carolina [PDF].

The League also filed a separate legal challenge in state court, Currie v. North Carolina [PDF]. The state case alleges that VIVA’s polling place Photo ID restrictions violate the NC Constitution, which treats voting as a "fundamental right." (A legal analysis of the state challenge will be covered in a subsequent article).

Earlier this Summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court carved out the very heart of the federal Voting Right Act with their 5 to 4 Shelby County v. Holder decision, they acknowledged that their ruling "in no way affects the permanent nationwide ban on racial discrimination." The controversial decision rejected the formula established by Congress in the VRA's Section 4, used to identify jurisdictions to be covered by the Act's Section 5 requirement for those covered jurisdictions to receive preclearance from the DoJ or a U.S. District Court before enacting any new election-related laws. The SCOTUS decision did not, however, eliminate the right of individuals, civil rights organizations, or the DoJ to file lawsuits seeking to block discriminatory laws under the VRA's Section 2, which bars discrimination in all 50 states.

Therefore, the new federal lawsuits filed in NC do not, and need not, challenge the Shelby County decision. Their factual allegations, however, suggest that Chief Justice John Roberts was in grave error when asserting, on behalf of the Court's right-wing majority, that "the conditions that originally justified [Section 5 preclearance] no longer characterize voting in covered jurisdictions"...

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

In a nation already at war with itself...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2013 1:57pm PT  

By now, you've certainly heard of the outrageous 9-hour detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport under Great Britain's supposed "Terrorism Act" over the weekend. As Rachel Maddow amazingly, but justifiably, found it necessary to point out loudly last night, "journalism is not terrorism", and both the British government and U.S. government (which has admitted receiving a "heads-up" about the planned detention by British authorities in advance, but didn't stop it from happening) should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable for the outrage.

Many have opined, since the detention of Miranda, what an outrage something like that would have been had a similar harassment and the seizure of personal property of, say, a New York Times journalist doing his or her job, occurred in this country or by a country so closely allied with the U.S.

Well, before we took our short break last week, I had been covering some of the increasing citizen protests in several states around the U.S. in reaction to the extreme and radical Republican policies being put in place by states where the GOP has recently taken control of state government. I covered the ensuing arrests of an 83-year old Korean War vet peacefully demonstrating for voting rights in NC (as he did with MLK in Selma, AL in 1965) and of an 80- and 85-year old couple in WI arrested in a crackdown by Republican Gov. Scott Walker's Capitol Police for participating in a daily protest sing along in the state capitol building.

While I was gone, it seems, things have gotten worse in Wisconsin, as an elected official was also arrested for singing along, and even the editor of a progressive news magazine was arrested for having attempted to record it...

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

An inside-the-courtroom account of what was --- and wasn't --- said during the U.S. Army whistleblower's sentencing phase...
By David Swanson on 8/19/2013 8:05am PT  

I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion. I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down. Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.

I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy. He's on trial in a system rigged against him. The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago. He's been convicted. The judge has been offered a promotion. The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor. Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence? Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong. But --- wow --- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom...

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

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!... ---

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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