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Latest Featured Reports | Friday, April 18, 2014
More Good 'Obamacare' News for Terrified Dems
Will Democrats continue to run scared, or will they embrace the unrelenting string of encouraging Affordable Care Act successes as we head into the 2014 mid-terms?...
'Green News Report' 4/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
One year since West, TX disaster; New 'habitable' planet!; Air pollution in poor areas; Record warm March; PLUS: 'Bombshell' study: CA drought caused by global warming...
Previous GNRs: 4/15/14 - 4/10/14 - Archives...
The Climate Is Invading the Earth! To Battle Stations!
If only the climate was a person that could be defeated with guns -- the world might finally take the threat that climate change now poses with the seriousness it deserves....
'Green News Report' 4/15/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: The UN Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change Report on Mitigation: costs, risks, and opportunities. Is it too late avoid climate catastrophe?...
Previous GNRs: 4/10/14 - 4/8/14 - Archives...
'Conservative' RW 'Legal' Blogger Defends Freeloading Nevada Rancher
PowerLine's hyper-partisan John Hinderaker admits Cliven Bundy 'doesn't have a [legal] leg to stand on', but digs deep to find a reason - any reason - to defend the scofflaw anyway...
Sunday News Shows Fail to Mention U.S. Senate CIA Torture & Detention Report
Despite U.S. and international crimes outlined in the findings, based on first-hand CIA docs, not a single Sunday show even brought it up...
NSA Knew About, Exploited Internet Open Source Bug for Years
What part of "national security' does the National Security Agency not understand?!...
Destroying America: 'Obamacare' Kills Another Business
Free medical clinic in rural Arkansas to close doors after health insurance reform law leads to lack of customers...
'Green News Report' 4/10/14
RW Heartland Institute says 'climate change will be good for you!'; Russia threatens natural gas supplies to Ukraine, Europe; PLUS: Attack of the Tumbleweeds! (No, really!)...
'Green News Report' 4/8/14
Study: CNN, Fox 'News' FAIL on climate; CNN looks for plane, finds ocean of garbage; PLUS: Energy co. receives record fine for 85 years of toxic waste (& couldn't be happier about it)...
Christie's E-Cig 'Sin Tax' Due to 'Public Health' Concerns?
After slashing anti-smoking programs, 'conservative' Christie admin offers absurd reason for massive new tax, but NJ Star-Ledger ain't buyin' it. And neither are we...
Judge to TX Repubs: Turn Over the Docs!
Courts rules TX legislators must provide email related to passage of polling place Photo ID restrictions which may prove discriminatory intent of the GOP law...
'A New Kind of Liberty' for the Kochs and Anyone Else Who Can Afford to Buy It
Have the rightwing judicial activists on the Supreme Court made you feel freer yet?...
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...


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]...

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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!... ---

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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!... ---

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

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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!... ---

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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!... ---

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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!... ---

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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!... ---

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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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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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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...

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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"...

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