Behind the radio mic for Ed, and joined by great, independent progressive journalists Ari Berman (on SCOTUS voting rights rulings), Marcy Wheeler (on NSA spying), David Dayen (on disaster mortgage scams); Plus rants, callers, news of the day and more!...
Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Here we go again: another "historic" storm... but it's not enough to end our historic drought; BP finally goes to trial for the oil disaster in the Gulf; China and Estonia move forward on renewable energy innovation; PLUS: CA Gov. Jerry Brown says fighting climate change is a boon, not a bust, for the economy... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Study: how Arctic sea ice loss impacts weather extremes; Horsemeat scandal 'an object lesson in food politics'; Drought closing U.S. feedlots, meatpackers; Dog food recall underscores toxic danger in drought; AEP agrees to close 3 coal plants; Heart-pounding ride on Navy's Great Green Fleet; DoD attacks climate change; Media and myth on doomsday messages on climate change; Cryosat-2 confirms stunning Arctic ice loss; UK farming, flood crisis ... PLUS: Tanks leaking radioactive waste in Washington State ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Baby, it's HOT outside: the hottest 12 months on record; "Corn growers in Hell," melting runways, and more impacts of extreme weather; Better late than never: More Americans believe in science again (But not ABC's George Will!); PLUS: ExxonMobil CEO admits climate change --- but, conveniently, he's not concerned about it ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Conservation groups sue over Arctic spill plans; BP Gulf Oil Spill has lasting impact; Building costs rise at US nuclear sites; Canada's scientists revolting; UK: Freak storms, flash floods, record rain; GA lawmakers overturn fracking veto by 1 accidental vote; Ocean acidity major threat to coral reefs; Copper pollution hurts salmon ... PLUS: What happens when we can't stop 10 degree warming? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[NOTE: I interviewed 90-year old Joyce Block from Pennsylvania, the woman discussed in the story below, today (Wed, 4/25) on my KPFK/Pacific Radio show, and she offered a bit of a "good news" update on her story. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
And now it's the voters in Pennsylvania who are beginning to lose their right to vote under new Republican voter suppression laws. The latest story of a citizen having their rights robbed by Big Government GOP disenfranchisement laws is that of Joyce Block, a 90-year old grandmother from Doylestown who has voted for 70 years without a problem --- until now.
We've been reporting for some time on legal voters who are being disenfranchised by Republican-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country. For example, in Indiana there were the 80- and 90-year old nuns who were turned away from the polls in 2008 after that state's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction had taken away the rights they'd freely and legally exercised for decades at their own monastery. (They were turned away that year by the poll worker, their fellow sister, who had been forced to follow the new voter suppression law.)
Of course, that same law in the Hoosier State didn't prevent their top election official, charged with overseeing the law, Republican Sec. of State Charlie White, from committing three voter fraud felonies himself. He was found guilty in February of this year and forced to leave office. But these laws aren't actually meant to stop voter fraud. Even proponents of such laws are unable to cite any cases of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possible be deterred by such laws --- which might have been prevented in their state by polling place Photo ID restrictions. These laws are meant solely to disenfranchise perfectly legal, usually Democratic-leaning voters who disproportionately lack the type of ID now needed to vote in states where these laws have been approved.
We told you about 87-year old Ruthelle Frank, an elected town official in Wisconsin who would have to come up with more than $200 for her "free" ID to vote under the GOP's new law there. And then there was 77-year old Bettye Jones for whom it would be strictly impossible to vote at all under WI's law which was, thankfully, recently found to be in violation of the state Constitution by two separate judges in two separate lawsuits in the Badger State.
Down in Tennessee, we told you about 96-year old Dorothy Cooper who was denied a "free" Photo ID, as now needed to vote there, even though she had her birth certificate to prove she was who she said she was. And we also highlighted 93-year old Thelma Mitchell, who used to clean the Governor's office in the statehouse, but was told that her ID was no longer good enough to cast a vote in the Volunteer State.
We could, of course, go on and on and on with such examples, even as we could detail the many high-profile Republicans who have committed voter fraud --- folks like Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter and many others, to name just a few --- who would not have been prevented from committing their crimes even under Photo ID restrictions, because that's not how voter fraud generally occurs and not the sort of voters these laws are meant to disenfranchise. It is, however, a swell way to keep hundreds of thousands, even millions, of perfectly legal --- largely elderly, minority and student (read: Democratic leaning) --- voters from being able to cast their legal vote.
And now, in Pennsylvania, the most recent state where Republicans have approved a polling place Photo ID restriction law --- and where the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett blatantly lied about it to the media --- we see the 90-year old grandmother-in-law of a local Borough Council president who looks as if she'll be forced to break her perfect 70-year voting record this November, as she too is unable to receive the supposedly "free" ID soon required to vote in the Keystone State...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama calls for crackdown on Wall St. oil speculators --- cue rightwing freakout in 3..2..1..; Taxpayers save lives in latest tornado outbreaks; New rules for frackers; PLUS: Good news for millions who depend on water from the Himalayas.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Surprise! Extra CO2 not good for plants after all; Solar energy breakthrough mimics photosynthesis to generate electricity; Los Angeles hailed as 'model of sustainaiblity'?; Grow your own biofuel from a cement kiln; No damage to bird populations from wind farms; Restoring Louisiana coast a national priority; Military conflict over Arctic resources?; Internal docs show dangers from new TX radioactive waste dump ... PLUS: Titanic director James Cameron: "We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can't turn" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"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.
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...
The smear is amplified by the propagandists at Fox "News." It reverberates throughout the right-wing echo chamber (which has usurped the majority of our public airwaves to bolster their agenda). The smear is then repeated by pliant mainstream corporate media, which will, at best, offer up a belated, chiseling, inaccurate "correction" --- too little and too late to undo the damage wrought by a Democratic "opposition" which timidly seeks to distance itself from the smeared as they scurry to hand the hard-right what it seeks (e.g., a bill stripping ACORN or NPR of public funds, or the forced resignation of the targeted individual).
There is no doubt but that some of the corporate media complicity derives from common financial interests. As Bill Moyers observed in Moyers on America, "media giants...exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic value...squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth."
But there is another issue, magnified by two recent events: (1) The matter-of-fact acceptance of the prompt resignation of two NPR officials over a secretly taped and deceptively-edited video hit piece in which two of convicted federal criminal and Republican con-man James O'Keefe's flunkies posed as members of a Muslim organization seeking to help fund NPR, and (2) The deafening corporate media silence over an outrageously racist remark by a right-wing Kansas state representative who compared "illegal immigrants" to "feral pigs"...
"Our campaign had an undeniable, unmistakable message," he told his supporters during his victory speech on Election Night, "and that message could be summed up in three words, three words which were on every one of our 4 billion highway signs: 'stop voter fraud.'"
"And now that clear message becomes transformed into a clear mandate," Kansas' Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach (R) told his fans that night, promising "significant reforms" to the state's election system. Answered with cheers in the Topeka ballroom Kobach promised: "We are gonna have Photo ID at the polls."
As he stated himself, Kobach's campaign was almost entirely built on the promise of putting a stop to the state's out-of-control (and also, non-existent, but ssshhh, don't tell anybody) "voter fraud" epidemic. But now that the election's over, he's having trouble identifying any actual instances of the horrible scourge he helped trick Republican voters into believing actually existed.
Talking Points Memo, who has done a bang-up job of keeping tabs on Kobach's duplicity over the past year, caught up with the SoS-elect yesterday after he spoke on a "civil rights" panel at the Federalist Society's National Lawyers Convention and asked him how the hunt is going.
He, um, had trouble actually citing any evidence of voter fraud since, as of now, he "hadn't heard of any." "There have been a few cases where I've heard allegations of voter fraud," he says, "but we're just a few weeks out from the election."
No doubt, the evidence will come rolling in soon. The only question is will it come in before or after Kobach and his anti-democracy GOP cronies enact disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place, as promised, despite the fact that such laws have been shown time and again to keep millions of legal minority, elderly, and student (read: Democratic-leaning) voters from being able to cast their ballots.
Here's TPM's short video interview with Kobach in which --- just in case you hadn't any doubt about the bankruptcy of his claims --- he also alludes to the long-discredited Rightwing scam-artist/"voter fraud" fraudster John Fund, whose book on "voter fraud" has, itself, been debunked as a fraud over and again...
In Kansas, only a gubernatorial veto stands between women's right to self-determination and being reported to the state for having abortions.
Why now? Foes of women's sovereignty over their own bodies have been working on abortion restrictions for decades. But after standing pat during the Bush years, perhaps thinking that sooner or later George W. Bush would give them the magic prize they've coveted for so long, all of a sudden state after state is passing abortion restrictions that make very clear the misogynistic leanings of these states' legislatures. Forcing women to have invasive vaginal ultrasounds? Forcing them to view images? Mental health evaluations?
But is it just about misogyny? Or does it have something to do with the pee-in-the-pants terror of the teabag movement at the inevitable end of white majority that's coming in this country?
After just 37 minutes of deliberation, a jury in Kansas found Scott Roeder, the murderer of Dr. George Tiller guilty on all counts. The 51-year-old airport shuttle driver faces a mandatory life sentence with the possibility of parole in 25 years, though prosecutors have expressed they hope to get a "Hard 50" for him --- meaning he'd not be eligible for parole unless he lived to be 101.
Though during the trial the domestic terrorist Roeder told the court he'd decided as long ago as 1993 to try and kill Tiller, it wasn't until after months of increasing demonization by the rightwing media that Roeder finally found the courage to shoot Tiller in the head during a Sunday church service in Wichita last year.
Before his murder, Tiller, who for years had performed perfectly legal abortion procedures, had been villainized in an ongoing media campaign, led most notably by Bill O'Reilly of Fox "News." O'Reilly, who, despite his own false claims to the contrary had described him on air, time and again, as "Tiller the Baby Killer" and repeatedly told viewers on the most popular program on cable "news" that "This guy will kill your baby for $5,000, any reason. Any reason."
Roeder testified during the trial that he "did what I thought was needed to be done to protect the children. ... If I didn’t do it, the babies were going to die the next day."
Other related statements, for which O'Reilly has never been held accountable, include:
"In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000."
"For $5,000, 'Tiller the Baby Killer' --- as some call him --- will perform a late-term abortion for just about any reason."
"Tiller has killed thousands, thousands of late-term fetuses without explanation."
"No question, Dr. Tiller has blood on his hands."
" 'Tiller the Baby Killer' out in Kansas, acquitted, acquitted today of murdering babies."
"This guy will kill your baby for $5,000, any reason. Any reason."
"If we allow Dr. George Tiller and his acolytes to continue, we can no longer pass judgment on any behavior by anybody."
"If we allow this, America will no longer be a noble nation."
He "destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000."
He's guilty of "Nazi stuff,"
a moral equivalent to NAMBLA and al-Qaida
"This is the kind of stuff that happened in Mao's China, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Soviet Union"
"operating a death mill"
"has blood on his hands"
"executing babies about to be born"
...Among many other similar statements.
While legal abortion providers have been forced to further defend themselves against continuing terror threats such as that carried out by Roeder, O'Reilly, who arguably helped foment the rage expressed by the murder of Tiller, remains on Rupert Murdoch's cable channel where he continues to "report" in similarly irresponsible fashion to millions of Americans each night.
VelvetRevolution.us has called on the U.S. Dept. of Justice to take the threat of domestic rightwing terrorism such as Roeder's, and the use of public and government-subsidized broadcast media to help foment it, seriously, via its StopDomesticTerror.com campaign. Please sign on to that campaign in you haven't already. [Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VR.]
[Updated at end of article with videos of responses to O'Reilly response from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.]
After years of demonizing Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated in his Wichita church on Sunday, Fox "News" host Bill O'Reilly toned back his inflammatory rhetoric on his first show back since yesterday's murder. (See video at end of article.)
Where he had previously, and repeatedly, described Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer," equated him with Nazis and al-Qaeda, described him repeatedly as "executing babies" and "operating a death mill," tonight O'Reilly characterized himself as the victim of a "left-wing" cabal of "Fox News haters" trying to "exploit" the tragedy to "shut guys like me down." Notably, however, he did not use the same strident rhetoric that had characterized his "reportage" of Tiller in the past...
Update 6/1/09: Thanks to Jed Lewison at DailyKosTV for the following short compilation of clips from among 29 segments of O'Reilly's show, in which he persisently demonized Tiller. "As you can see from these video clip samplings of O’Reilly’s holy war," Lewison writes, "you don’t have to actually pull the trigger to help sponsor terrorism:"
Tiller was better known to Fox "News" viewers as "Tiller the Baby Killer," as he's long been described by Bill O'Reilly, who has spent years targeting Tiller on the most-watched show in cable news. O'Reilly has long demonized him with allegations of performing illegal late-term abortions, characterized as murder by O'Reilly and his guests.
Of course, it's no more O'Reilly's fault when a lunatic takes action to murder someone the Fox host has targeted for years on his popular television show than it was when another lunatic gunned down church-goers in Tennessee last year, claiming in his pre-murder "manifesto" that it was "a symbolic killing," and that he had "wanted to kill...every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book." Goldberg is a regular featured guest on O'Reilly's show, and the author of 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And Al Franken is #37).
Jim David Adkisson, the Knoxville, TN, murderer, also advocated the murder of "liberals" in his manifesto, echoing comments frequently made by O'Reilly that "The Major News outlets have become the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. Liberals are evil, they embrace the tenets of Karl Marx, they're Marxist, socialist, communists."
Those are all merely coincidences, of course. Nobody, other than the murderers themselves, should feel it necessary to take any personal responsibility whatsoever when such events occur.
In March of this year, after Tiller had been acquitted of charges alleging that he'd performed late-term abortions in violation of Kansas state law, O'Reilly continued his series of programs focusing on the Kansas physician, charging him with "operating a death mill" (video here), and alleging that he was "executing babies" (video here).
O'Reilly had previously been highly critical of the state's Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, charging, during his Talking Points commentary in 2007, that she was "allowing [Tiller] to continue the slaughter."
Now, O'Reilly won't have to worry about that anymore.
FURTHER UPDATE: A quick read of the far right website FreeRepublic (O'Reilly's base), reveals hundreds of comments on a number of threads, applauding and even celebrating the death of Tiller. We've reposted many of them below. (Hat-tip Charles at Little Green Footballs.)
Note to O'Reilly, who has proven not to understand the difference when he repeatedly highlights a selected anonymous user comment from what he describes as "liberal hate-sites," such as Huffington Post and Daily Kos, while comparing them to the Ku Klux Klan: The following are comments by readers at the site, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of those who run Free Republic. Nor is there any guarantee that such posters are not purposely posting these comments in hopes of reflecting poorly on the site in question. Though, in this case, there are so many of them, most posted by users with a long posting history on the site, that we'll leave it to your judgement as to whether you believe these comments are for real or not...
Today we have reports that ES&S software actually flipped votes in three races at one polling place in Crawford Co., Kansas. We also have reports that ES&S software incorrectly reported results in one race in Polk Co., North Carolina.
The long count of votes in Hillsborough Co., Florida, seems to be over with the blame for problems being put, where else, on “human error.” It seems that Premier/Diebold had warned Florida users of their high-speed OSX voting machines that those machines could not take a high-volume of ballots without bogging down and causing problems. Hillsborough ignored that warning. However, why would a vendor put out a system for use in elections that cannot be used in a high-volume of ballots. King Co., Washington, wanted badly to use that system. If they had it would have been a disaster....
"To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!" brags Kansas GOP chairman Kris Kobach in his end-of-year letter.
Blue Tide Rising has the scoop, along with details on what "vote caging" is, for those who don't know by now. We should note, however, it's not immediately clear from Kobach's letter what exactly he means by his use of the term, and if he's referring to the illegal type of caging or not.
In any case, it's clear that the undemocratic (small "d") practice of working to keep Democratic (large "D") voters off the rolls, through any means necessary, in order to keep them from voting, through any means necessary, has been mainlined as perhaps the top strategy for the GOP in 2008. Even Bush's Dept. of Justice, under the hand of John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, has now been officially mobilized to direct such practices on behalf of the Republican States of America.
For more, see PBS's long-overdue video report from last summer, on the GOP's sordid history of vote caging and the corporate American mainstream media's failure to cover it when it might have mattered.
Plus, Crooks & Liars has details on the piece of work that is this Kris Kobach, a former counsel to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
A commenter over at DU asked which states used the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen voting system found vulnerable to an undetectable countywide vote-flipping virus which can be implanted by a single person, as we reported this morning.
Based on our quick review of a county-by-county database of voting systems, sorted by state, as made available by Common Cause (EXCEL spreadsheet downloadable here) just prior to the November 2006 elections, it looks like the answer is 16 states in total.
Since the EAC refuses, as our report detailed, to do their job in notifying Elections Officials about this incredibly serious vulnerability, it looks like it's up to you to notify your state's Secretary of State and/or county Election Officials! Details on the vulnerability and mitigating steps that may be taken are detailed in this brief report at VotersUnite.org as written by a computer scientist and voting system expert well familiar with the newly discovered flaw. Please refer your voting officials to both our original article, and that scientific report for more details at the following URLs: