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By Brad Friedman on 3/22/2012 6:33pm PT  

It's turns out that Republican Florida state Rep. Dennis Baxley is far more odious than we realized when, last December, we described him as, among other things, "reprehensible", "anti-American" and "democracy-hating".

It appears we were way too kind.

Baxley, it seems, was the chief, NRA-funded sponsor behind Florida's 2005 "Stand Your Ground" law --- better described as a "Right to Kill" law --- the first of many similar ALEC-templated bills to be passed by Republicans in states across the country, allowing for what opponents had warned at the time, would result in "racially motivated killings."

It was just such a racially motivated killing that appears to have resulted in the shooting death of unarmed 17-year old African-American Trayvon Martin, by George Zimmerman in a gated community in Sanford, FL late last month. Zimmerman, who has admitted to shooting Martin --- just minutes after he is heard on a 911 call whispering "fucking coons" and being told by the dispatcher to not follow Martin --- is still a free man today, and still in possession of his gun and [see CORRECTION note below] concealed weapon permit, thanks in no small part to Baxley's law.

What follows is brief coverage of Baxley from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night, including clips of his advocacy for the bill back in 2005, when he argued that "this is gonna be a safer state" and "this bill will stop crime in its tracks". Then, after that, we'll remind you why, and what, we had written about this despicable creep last December...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/3/2012 3:12pm PT  

Late on Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed an objection in Washington D.C. federal court to new laws limiting voting and voter registration rights in the state of Florida. TPM's Ryan Reilly broke the news just before midnight last night.

The DoJ is said to be calling for a trial in the D.C. court, where the state of Florida had previously filed suit in order to avoid the federal "preclearance" process under the Voting Rights Process for its new restrictive election laws. The new laws institute harsh penalties for third-party voter registration organizations and individuals who fail to turn in new voter registration forms to elections officials within 48 hours of them being completed. The statute would also cut early voting hours nearly in half.

The new voter registration restrictions, passed by Republicans in the state following the 2010 election, has led groups like the non-partisan Florida League of Women Voters, which had been registering new voters in the state for some 70 years, to cancel their registration program citing stiff new penalties which, they say, put the organization and its registration workers at great legal risk. Both the Florida LWV and Rock the Vote, which focuses on voter registration for young voters, have previously filed their own lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the new voter registration laws in the state of Florida.

Over the past several months, a number of high-school teachers, incredibly enough, have been charged under the new law for registering their own students to vote. Last November, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow covered the topic in an interview with the Supervisor of Elections of Volusia County, FL, who, though she is a Republican, said she felt "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in one of those teachers to law enforcement officials.

On Thursday night, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report ran a somewhat more amusing, if equally disturbing, take on the issue, focusing on one of the teacher's snagged by Florida law enforcement for "voter registration fraud" under the draconian new restrictions...

Section 5 the Voting Rights Act (VRA), requires certain jurisdictions, including parts or all of 16 different states with a history of racial discrimination, to receive "preclearance" from the DoJ for all new election-related laws, or otherwise receive approval for the new laws from the federal district court in D.C. During the DoJ preclearance process for Florida's new laws, the agency requested more information about them from the state, which includes five difference "covered" counties. Instead of responding, Florida decided to avoid DoJ judgment all together by taking their case directly to the D.C. court instead.

According to TPM's Reilly, the DoJ stated in their filing in that same court last night...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 2/27/2012 11:21am PT  

My full story on this is at Salon today. But, here's the skinny.

It looks like Indiana's now-former Republican Sec. of State, Charlie White, who was found guilty of three voter fraud felonies and three other felonies early this month, has now been sentenced.

And it also looks like the old adage --- It's Okay If You're a Republican (IOKIYAR) --- continues to ring true in the Hoosier State. Despite being the top election official in the very first state in the union to institute disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions, Charlie White has gotten off with a slap on the wrist, essentially, for three intentional voter fraud felonies, and the three others he was found guilty of as well.

His sentencing hearing was held last week. He pretended to be contrite before the judge (unlike when he appeared days earlier on Fox "News"), so it turns out he'll serve just one year in home detention for all of his crimes. The sentencing, naturally, has left him "elated."

The fates of other, less Republican, less high-ranking folks however, such as those who were prosecuted with the full force of the federal government during the George W. Bush Administration's unprecedented, if failed attempt to ferret out "voter fraud" crimes, were not quite as lucky. Unfortunately, they were used as fodder to help Republicans push for those polling place Photo ID laws (which would have failed to deter either them or White from committing voter fraud) by Bush's wholly politicized Dept. of Justice.

For folks like Wisconsin's Kimberly Prude and Florida's Usman Ali, to name just two examples of those who were caught in that buzz-saw, and who each committed far less egregious --- far far far less egregious --- crimes than those intentionally committed by White, the legal system was not nearly as kind.

Prude, who tried to rescind her own absentee vote before the 2004 election, immediately after learning from her probation officer that she was not allowed to vote --- despite never having served time in jail and being on felony probation for having passed a bad check four years earlier --- was forced to serve more than a year in prison. Ali, who never even voted at all, had it even worse. He was deported to Pakistan where he hadn't live in more than 10 years, destroying his life in this country for not just himself, but for his American wife and daughter as well.

I tell the whole story --- of White's virtually scot-free sentencing, as compared to Prude's and Ali's --- in my story today at Salon. Please give it a read.

As you might expect, the moral, once again, is: IOKIYAR.

* * *
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By Brad Friedman on 1/20/2012 12:30pm PT  

The voting systems in use for the nation's first three all-important electoral contests in the 2012 primary --- from Iowa to New Hampshire to Saturday's South Carolina Primary --- go from pretty great to intolerably horrible. And then comes Florida, which deserves its very own special category, thereafter.

The "First-in-the-Nation" caucuses in Iowa allowed voters to vote on hand-marked paper ballots, counted by hand in front of the public at the caucus site, with results announced to everyone right then and there before being called in to GOP headquarters and before ballots were move anywhere. The wonderfully transparent system allowed for Republican voters by the Iowa GOP (which they hypocritically fight against allowing for everybody else in other states, and even in their own during general elections) is just about as close as we general get in this country to Democracy's Gold Standard. It's also what allowed reporting errors to be discovered and confirmed by the public after an election with some 122,000 votes counted transparently within an hour or so of polls closing, leading to almost nobody charging "fraud" even though just 34 votes are said to separate first and second place in the certified results of the impossibly, and historically, close election.

As of the "First-in-the-Nation" primary in New Hampshire, however, election transparency for voters and their ability to oversee their own elections began to disappear. While a lucky 10% of voters enjoyed hand-marked, publicly hand-counted paper ballots, the rest of the state's voters were allowed to vote on hand-marked paper ballots, but forced to tolerate secret tabulation on oft-failed, easily-manipulated Diebold optical-scan systems programmed by a company (LHS) with a history of criminal behavior and convictions. The results from those 90% of Granite State voters may have been tallied accurately by the Diebold op-scanners or, as seen in the disastrous 2008 Presidential Primary, not. Since NH doesn't bother to actually check to see if their machines tallied the hand-marked paper ballots correctly, we're unlikely to ever know if they did --- barring a recount request where, by then, the secure chain of custody of the paper ballots would be uncertain (to put it mildly.)

And now we come to the "First-in-the-South" Republican primary in South Carolina, where all evidence of how voters vote disappears entirely as the voters will be forced across the entire state to vote on easily-manipulated, oft-failed, 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems made by the nation's largest voting machine company, ES&S. When the machine-reported results are announced tomorrow night they will either be accurate or not. Either way, there will never be a way for anybody to know one way or the other as there will be nothing to prove how voters voted and nothing to "recount", even if anybody wanted to.

Appropriately enough, perhaps, Saturday's primary in the Palmetto State will offer 100% "faith-based" voting, since it will be scientifically impossible to prove that even a single vote for any candidate on the ballot has been recorded accurately by the ES&S iVotronic touch-screens as per any voter's intent. Known what we mean, Alvin Greene?...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2011 12:06pm PT  

I don't have time today to thoroughly debunk all the reprehensible, anti-democratic, anti-American horseshit hurled by this FL State Rep. Dennis Baxley --- the original sponsor of Florida's new voter suppression laws, limiting early voting hours and imposing new big government regulations and huge fines against voter registration workers --- as seen in the following interview on Al Sharpton's Politics Nation show on MSNBC this week.

Fortunately, most readers of The BRAD BLOG will be able to smell the bullshit of the smirking, democracy-hating Baxley a mile away even without my point-by-point rebuttal. So I'll just run the video here for now without much comment, as it needs to be seen to be believed.

Near the front of the interview, Baxley admits that there's been no voter fraud problem in FL, and by the end he's charging (without a stitch of evidence, naturally) that the non-partisan League of Women Voters, who have been registering voters in the Sunshine State for some 72 years --- but who have now canceled their registration program for 2012 thanks to the onerous new GOP restrictions and fines on registration workers --- is actually a partisan Democratic organization! Who knew?

My loathing towards those who knowingly undermine American democracy is difficult to contain. So consider my restraint today an undeserved favor to you this afternoon, Mr. Baxley.


Oh, and for good measure, here's some info on some Florida school teachers recently arrested and/or charged for registering students to vote in apparent violation of Baxley's new anti-voting laws!

One thing I'm happy to see this year at least: MSNBC has been covering the GOP War on Voting --- at least the front-end war, the part in which Republicans are trying to keep millions of legal voters from being able to cast their legal vote at all --- very well this cycle, on many of their shows. Hopefully they'll soon begin covering concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the vote count itself, at least the vote counts of those who find themselves able to cast a vote in 2012, in any case.

* * *

If you'd like more details on the above...Earlier on the same show, Deirdre Macnab, President of the non-partisan LWV Florida, explained to Sharpton why they've been forced to stop their registration program in Florida after 72 years. As they note on their web page where the interview is posted...

Under new laws, third parties who want to help register voters could face $5,000 fines, a third degree felony and up to 5 years in prison if they violate any of the broad provisions noted in the legal paperwork.

That much shorter interview follows below...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 11/6/2011 10:18am PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Those who have followed the body of my work know that I am no fan of campaign ads, which are usually democracy-destroying substitutes for in-depth discussion of matters of substance by those aspiring to public office.

But, every now and then, one comes along that is worth watching because it is both short and hilarious, like this clip of Bill Maher stating why he thinks Alan Grayson (D-FL) should again be in Congress...

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By Brad Friedman on 11/3/2011 3:40pm PT  

Meanwhile, the Republican War on Democracy continues apace.

Happily, Rachel Maddow brings us up to date on the latest in the GOP's out-and-out assault on voting and voting rights in states all over the country. The new laws passed by GOP-controlled legislatures in the wake of their 2010 electoral victories, are expected to have a wildly disproportionate disenfranchising affect on voters who tend to vote Democratic, and are likely to make voting much more difficult for some 5 million Americans, according to a new study from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.

Apparently, Republicans must be convinced, for some reason, that they can't win elections in a fair fight. Wonder why.

Maddow's latest maddening update includes an interview with the Republican Supervisor of Elections in Volusia County, FL who was "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in a high school teacher to law enforcement for registering students to vote now that Florida has criminalized such activities. And, no, we're not exaggerating. That is the same new FL GOP law which has led the non-partisan League of Women Voters to cancel all voter registration in the state of Florida, after doing so for the past 72 years, because the potential penalties for doing so have simply become too onerous....


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ALSO: For benefit of Venango County's still-in-denial neighbors in Erie County, a brief history of ES&S' epic failures...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/3/2011 10:05am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

"What is a vote worth?" Venango County, PA's Election Board Chairman Craig Adams, a Republican, asked last week. "If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."

"After months of legal wrangling," Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County's landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way.

Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the heavily Republican-leaning county having experienced "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary." Some candidates on the ballots even were reported by the voting machines to have received zero votes...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/26/2011 12:02pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Since taking power in statehouses across the nation in 2010, Republicans have been feverishly implementing new restrictions on democracy in advance of the 2012 Presidential election. A number of those laws, clearly --- and often deceptively --- designed to carve out blatant partisan advantage for the GOP next year, were examined during a recent hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The video of the hearing on "New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot" can be viewed here.

This is the second of our two-part analysis of the hearing.

In Part 1, we covered the subcommittee's examination of new polling place photo ID restrictions designed to make it more difficult for lawfully registered (and disproportionately Democratic-leaning) voters to cast their ballots at the precincts on Election Day. That issue --- which included some devastating cross-examination of long-time GOP "voter fraud" front-man Hans Von Spakovsky by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) --- was the first of three categories, as defined by committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) of new state voting laws covered in the hearings. All of the new voter suppression laws have been recently rammed through Republican-majority statehouses across the country.

In this concluding piece, we will cover the two additional categories examined: laws erecting barriers to the ability of individuals and non-partisan, non-governmental organizations to offer convenient registration for new voters and laws imposing significant reductions on early voting periods. Both are likely to restrict the number of voters able to cast their lawful vote in 2012 and, again, each is likely to disproportionately affect Democratic-leaning voters.

Finally, We'll also touch upon the status of legal challenges to these new laws by democracy proponents and challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself by operatives on the Right. Moreover, it's impossible to look at any of these issues without drawing inferences about what the combination of new laws in all three categories means, particularly in light of the fact that the models for these new laws were drafted by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/17/2011 7:52am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Yesterday, The Post & Courier of Charleston, South Carolina reported that a local "Council of Governments [COG] approved a resolution...asking for the state to audit how its voting machines are working."

The "machines" are the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.

The Post & Courier not only mentions the fact that state election officials insist that the "iVotronic machines reliably tally votes," but buys into the canard that "increased skepticism" is based upon [emphasis added] "human errors made during last year's elections." It adds that the COG resolution expressed "a concern [that the] voting machines...do not incorporate a 'paper trail' that could facilitate unequivocal confirmation of election results."

If there is any state in the nation that should realize that casting a vote on the ES&S iVotronic amounts to an exercise in blind-faith, with or without a so-called "Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT), it would be South Carolina...

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

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(Unless you don't read The BRAD BLOG)
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/15/2011 7:00am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Neither the recent claim made by anonymous hacker, Abhaxas, that he/she had hacked into Florida's e-voting database nor the efforts by FL election officials to minimize the breach of its system comes as a surprise to The BRAD BLOG.

In fact, minimization of the vulnerability following the reported hack calls to mind what Roger G. Johnston, Ph.D of the Argonne National Laboratory describes as the Arrogance Maxim:

The ease of defeating a security device or system is proportional to how confident/arrogant the designer, manufacturer, or user is about it, and to how often they use words like "impossible" or "tamper-proof".

One would think that Abhaxas had Johnson's Arrogance Maxim in mind. As reported by Doug Chapin of the University of MN, the anonymous hacktivist responded to the official denials by hacking into the FL voting system a second time; posting "a directory listing of the Florida database with the (sarcastic) observation 'Glad you cleaned up, pretty secure now guys'."

As an encore, Abhaxas then hacked into Montana's government website, where he/she exposed 16 databases.

While Chapin acknowledges the vulnerability exposed by the hack, once again, as is his habit over the years, Chapin draws the entirely wrong lessons in pointing to the need for better training and security procedures...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
Brad's Birthday Edition!
By Desi Doyen on 7/19/2011 1:47pm PT  


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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another record heatwave for the Midwest (now with crop failure!); "Carmageddon" becomes "Cartopia"; Australia launches nationwide carbon tax --- World doesn't end; PLUS: Dim bulbs (and Fox "News") fight to build a bridge to the 19th century ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): $485B a yr: What extreme weather costs US; Sea levels could rise for centuries to come; Lufthansa begins world's first regular biofuel passenger flights; Phosphate: A resource critical to farming, now starting to run low; U.S. Could Drop Screening For Deadly Strain of E. Coli; GOP Denies Global Warming as Polar Bear Cubs Die in Melting Arctic Ice; Study: Changes to ocean expected to damage shellfish around world; Europe Opens First Electric Car Battery Switching Station; Heatstroke deaths quadruple in Japan; Analysis: A severe EV battery oversupply on the horizon; Volvo, Jaguar testing flywheels as potential substitute for batteries in EVs; New Climate Study Models Potential for Rapid Onset of Catastrophic Climate Changes ... PLUS: More Americans now employed in "green" jobs than oil or gas jobs ...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 5/23/2011 6:43pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

"I don’t want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the billionaire-funded Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, said while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980. "[O]ur leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added after he denigrated those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation as people who suffer from the "goo goo syndrome."

Voter suppression has long been a staple of American politics, but the tsunami of new restrictions on the polling place now being rammed through by newly-elected Republican majorities in state after state is unprecedented, certainly since the era of Jim Crow was supposed to have been ended by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

While most Americans may think of the poll tax and literacy tests as forms of voter suppression associated the Jim Crow South, the confirmation hearings of the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renquist included sworn testimony from former U.S. Attorney James Brosnahan and others reflecting that, as an early 60's GOP activist, Renquist intimidated African-American and Hispanic voters in AZ by challenging their ability to read.

1965's Voting Rights Act outlawed both the poll tax and literacy tests. In more recent times, pursuant to a 1987 federal court consent decree, and a subsequent provision of the National Voting Rights Act of 1993, another GOP suppression tactic, "caging lists," was banned, though as documented by the BBC's Greg Palast, the Bush administration-led Plutocrats didn't let a little matter like illegality get in the way of their use.

21st Century voter suppression operates under cover. Or it had, until the new wave of legislation being passed by GOP legislatures across the country began hitting its stride. Until FL's then-governor Charlie Crist overturned it, for example, the state banned convicted felons from voting even years after they'd been released from prison. In Armed Madhouse, Palast asserts that prior to the 2000 Presidential election, FL's then Sec. of State Katherine Harris, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of candidate George W. Bush, purged 94,000 "felons" from the state's computerized voter rolls, though the only "crime" at least 91,000 were guilty of was "being Black, Democrat or both."

Over much of the past decade, voter suppression efforts have been bolstered by bogus "voter fraud" claims leveled at groups like ACORN, who aided in the registration of those who might be likely to vote against the GOP (minorities and the working class); "non-partisan" GOP astroturf groups like the phony American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) created after the 2004 election solely to create and spread false propaganda about a Democratic "voter fraud" epidemic; laws meant to increase the legal risk to real non-partisan organizations for assisting in registration; draconian polling place "photo ID" restriction laws, and in a reduction of opportunities for early voting.

With the tide of GOP victories at the ballot box last November, those efforts have now been ramped up and are now front and center in some 30 state legislatures across the country...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/10/2011 1:25pm PT  


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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How to profit from the coming eco-pocalypse; Green energy can wean off subsidies; Right-Wing media freak out over nonexistent mileage tax; Study: climate change impacts on SF; Arctic meltdown accelerates; Ambitious renewable energy goals and war-zone realities; US Military: global dominance through solar panels; Republican claims credit for oil price tumble; the Truth about rising gasoline prices; Obama: Clean energy delivers the ‘jobs of the future’; Robot sorts trash for recycling; Self-cleaning, smog-eating buildings; Greening America’s schools ... PLUS: Scaling UP: Renewables Could Meet Most of Energy Needs by 2050 ...

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Also: Quick WI Supreme Court election 'recount' update...
By Brad Friedman on 4/27/2011 6:38pm PT  

On my KPFK show (L.A.'s Pacifica Radio affiliate) today, I was joined by RadioOrNot.com's Nicole Sandler, fresh after her release from the Broward County, FL, Jail earlier today. She was asked to leave the meeting after asking questions about the GOP's attempts to end welfare as we know it.

Nicole, who hosts her own progressive talk radio show and is the regular fill-in guest host for Randi Rhodes, was held overnight (several hours of it in solitary confinement, during which she was maced by guards), after her arrest at a Fort Lauderdale town hall event held last night by freshman "Tea Party" Republican Rep. Allen West (FL-22). Though she is a constituent of the insane Congressman, she was not allowed to ask questions, as West decided last night that he would take only pre-selected written questions. That, after town hall events have been turning into embarrassments for the GOP over the past week as they've faced questions from constituents angry about their recent vote to make drastic changes to Medicare by replacing the popular single-payer health care system with a voucher program.

We covered the whole sordid affair earlier this morning in detail, including videos of the arrest, etc., as Nicole, my friend and colleague, was unreachable (still in jail) and her whereabouts were still unknown.

In the time since our article concluded with a statement from her after she'd been released and I was finally able to speak to her by phone, and prior to my live KPFK interview with her, RAW STORY obtained and published the probable cause document filed by police along with her arrest.

In the report, the arresting officer claims Nicole became "physically aggressive with this ofc., pushing me several times." The video footage we posted earlier today reveals no such physical aggression or pushing. During our interview, Nicole denied any such aggressiveness on her part, either during the arrest or in jail prior to her being maced by a Broward County jail guard.

The show also includes a quick update at the top on the WI Supreme Court election "recount" which finally got under way across the Badger State earlier today.

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 28 mins]...

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