Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
A United Nations shelter in northern Gaza was shelled on Thursday, causing "multiple deaths and injuries," according to a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency.
At least 15 people were killed and scores hurt when a school compound in Beit Hanoun, designated as a haven for the displaced, was bombarded by Israeli forces amid heavy fighting with Palestinian militants, a Gaza health official said.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N. Refugee and Works Agency, or UNRWA, tweeted that the precise coordinates of the shelter had been relayed to Israeli forces.
Israel's Defense Forces issued a statement Thursday saying that they had ordered the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the shelter in Belt Hanoun late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
"Evacuate" them to where exactly? A U.N. shelter or something?
The L.A. Times goes on to report that, "According to the IDF, Hamas militants prevented civilians from evacuating and continued firing rockets from the area around the shelter."
Who knows if that's true or not. Either way, of course, as "the Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpassed 720 in overnight and early-morning bombardment," it's clear that Israel's strategy of bombing children in U.N. shelters, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the Israeli people. What could possibly go wrong?
It also allowed me to rant a bit about connect a few dots between things like last weekend's aborted "recount" in the California Controller's primary election (which, as I reported earlier this week, helped draw a roadmap for how to steal an election in this state with little likelihood of being caught), and the more-than-decade-long fight for election integrity, including the continuing fight for actual citizen oversight of public elections, which both Ennis and I have waged in parallel journeys.
Moreover, it allowed me to connect some dots again between things like the infamous Citizen's United decision, which cut off much hope for election integrity at its knees in 2010, and the emergence of the mainstream Republican global warming denialist movement. Yes, the two issues are directly connected. (For more on that, which I didn't get time to fully cover on the show as hoped, see this.)
Finally, it also allowed me to talk about, and play some great clips from, three of my favorite election integrity documentaries (one of them Ennis' Free For All: One Dude's Quest to Save Democracy), which we made available as premiums for listeners pledging support for KPFK's fund drive. (And you are still welcome to call the number and offer your support as well, if you like!)
Officials administered the lethal drugs at 1:52 p.m. Wood's eyes closed.
About 10 minutes later, the gasping began.
Wood's jaw dropped, his chest expanded, and he let out a gasp. The gasps repeated every five to 12 seconds. They went on and on, hundreds of times. An administrator checked on him a half-dozen times. He could be heard snoring loudly when an administrator turned on a microphone to inform the gallery that Wood was still sedated, despite the audible sounds.
As the episode dragged on, Wood's lawyers frantically drew up an emergency legal appeal, asking federal and state courts to step in and stop the execution.
"He has been gasping for more than an hour," the lawyers pleaded in their filings. "He is still alive."
The Arizona Supreme Court convened an impromptu telephone hearing with a defense lawyer and attorney for the state to decide what to do.
Wood took his last breath at 3:37 p.m. Twelve minutes later, Arizona Department of Corrections Director Charles L. Ryan declared Wood dead. The state court was informed of the death while its hearing was underway.
It took one hour and 57 minutes for the execution to be completed, and Wood was gasping for more than an hour and a half of that time.
The spokesperson for the AZ Attorney General, however, was "surprised by how peaceful it was"...
In the weeks since its debut on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has slowly, if assuredly, evolved from being little more than a weekend knockoff of its progenitor The Daily Show, to finding its own unique voice and ability to take advantage of the more in-depth "coverage" afforded by the lack of self-censorship otherwise required for commercial television and longer segments due to the lack of on-the-clock commercial breaks necessary for its Comedy Central brethren.
That maturity and evolution revealed itself in full flower during last night's lengthy segment on America's horrific and insane --- and getting horrificker and insaner --- prison and incarceration policy.
Aside from being really really funny at times, the lengthy segment was one of the smartest, most complete, most accessible treatises I've seen on TV --- or anywhere really --- in a very long time, if ever.
It concludes with a laugh-out-loud Sesame Street-style song on the broken state of America's prison policy, after covering obscenities along the way such as the explosive growth in our prison population; the failed "War on Drugs"; racial disparities in sentencing; our grotesque cultural fetish with "hysterical" prison rape humor; some fairly jaw-dropping Congressional testimony (courtesy of Sen. Al Franken); to the privatization and profiteering of the national Prison Industrial Complex which has culminated, as a judge described in 2012, in "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts".
This smart piece is well worth watching in full for too many reasons to list here...
[Note: For a somewhat less amusing, if no less important take on one related issue not mentioned by Oliver during his otherwise surprisingly complete overview, see the second part of Ernie Canning's three-part 2012 BRAD BLOG essay on the so-called "War on Drugs", which discusses how legalization might well disrupt the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex and its increasingly relied-upon pool of slave --- yes, slave --- laborers.]
CORRECTION: Our original article had the name of HBO's show wrong, as well as the quote from a federal judge about the privatized prison system in Mississippi. Both have been corrected above, thanks to commenter "Niemand" pointing out the errors below.
The measure not only calls upon Congress to "propose an amendment...to the United States Constitution" to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and its progeny, but "to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only."
A constitutional amendment that eliminated "corporate personhood" would not only invalidate Citizens United but would overturn the newly minted right to "corporate religious liberty" established in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. (2014).
Unfortunately, the language Lieu included in the measure stops short of "money is not speech." Instead, the measure simply provides for "full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another."
While the ballot proposition is not binding, and has produced critics who describe the measure as little more than a political stunt, if adopted by an overwhelming majority of California voters this fall, it could very well help to ignite a nationwide groundswell of opposition to a series of decisions by an oligarchic Supreme Court that have threatened the very survival of our constitutional representative democracy...
CLEGG: Regardless of what side you are on in this ancient, bloody conflict, no one can feel indifferent to the spectacle of this overcrowded, desperate sliver of land, Gaza, where so many thousands of people are suffering.
I will always defend --- I've done it on this program before - Israel's right to respond and to defend itself in the face of violence that is designed to terrorize Israeli citizens. I have spoken out repeatedly about Israel's very legitimate demands that Hamas and others recognize Israel's right to exist, and to exist peacefully within its own borders and provide security to its own citizens.
I have to say, though, I really do think now the Israeli response is --- appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza which is just unacceptable. And I really would now call on the Israeli government to stop.
Interviewer: [crosstalk] Hamas would continue, though, Deputy Prime Minister...
CLEGG: Well, no, Israel of course retains the right to react, but I'm just saying you cannot see the humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, without concluding that --- and the very many numbers of deaths in Gaza --- without concluding that there is not much more going to be served in Israel's own interests.
And this is a point I keep wanting to make, because every time of course any politician speaks out, I guarantee I'll get lots of people kind of getting --- I quite understand to be quite passionate about this --- all I would say is, as someone who is a long-standing defender of Israel's right to defend itself, of Israel's right to defend its values and its own citizens, it is not in the long run in Israel's own interests to see this festering humanitarian crisis get ever worse in Gaza. Because all it does, of course, in the long run, is act as a kind of, almost as an incubation, if you will --- it incubates the next generation of violent extremists who want to do harm to Israel, so...
Interviewer: They might argue, though, that Hamas will just carry on shelling, Deputy Prime Minister.
CLEGG: Well, if Hamas does that then of course Israel reserves the right to respond. All I'm saying is today, we have the glimmer of hope that a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire has been entered into by both sides. And my plea today, to both sides, is please build on that. Because further deaths, more violence begetting more violence, is not in anybody's interests. And it's not going to help deliver the only way, the only way, in which Israelis will be able to live in security and peace in the long run. Which is a negotiated two-state peace settlement. It is the only way. And there's just no --- I know it's very easy as an outsider to pronounce on these things, but I really do think that the level of humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, the number of deaths, and the disproportionate --- the apparently, almost deliberate use of disproportionate response --- now needs to come to an end.
According to the UK's Evening Standard, before Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza on Friday: "More than 220 Palestinians have died in nine days of fighting and Hamas rockets have killed one Israeli."
For his part, UK Prime Minister Cameron reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that he "strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians," and he "reiterated the UK's staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel's right to defend itself from them."
However, Cameron also is said to have signed on to an EU statement [PDF] on Wednesday, which "condemns the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians," but adds that the European Council "deeply deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli military operations".
The Washington Post recently reported that more "than 100 current and former [Kansas] Republican officials [have] endorsed Democratic state Rep. Paul Davis [in his] bid to unseat Gov. Sam Brownback (R)."
The website of the group that refers to itself as the "Republicans for Kansas Values," reveals that the source of their revolt can be found in what the LA Times' Michael Hiltzik described as Brownback's draconian "Tea Party tax cuts," enacted in the name of economic "freedom" that have, he says, benefited only the wealthy and have turned the Sunflower State "into a smoking ruin."
Here's a perfect example of why people watch cable news --- and, also, why they don't.
As TPM's Josh Marshall describes it: "Rick Santelli, famously in 2009, by one measure launched the 'Tea Party' with an epic rant about how big government was crushing capitalism while it was actually in the midst of saving it. Since then he's been wrong about every economic question worth being asked. One of the CNBCers got tired of his nonsense today and this happened."
Or, as Vox.com's Ezra Klein tweeted it (with a pretty perfect allusion for old school Real World fans): "What happens when CNBC hosts stop being polite and start getting real"...
Matthew Yglesias describes Santelli, in citing the video above, as a "big time inflation fearmonger" and adds that fellow CNBCer "Steve Liesman absolutely took him to school pointing out that anyone who'd listened to his inflationista advice over the years would have lost a ton of money."
I'm not nearly expert enough in monetary policy to appreciate who's actually right and who's actually wrong in this made-for-cable pissing match. While I'd happily bet against the yutz Santelli on just about anything, the rest of his network has also been notoriously wrong in just about every bit of corporate log-rolling and back-slapping they've engaged in over the last decade or more. In any event, if you want a bit more of an explainer on what the hell these people are actually yelling about, Time's Pat Regnier offers this one.
Funny thing. For some reason, professional, weapons-grade Rightwing troll Ann Coulter doesn't think her fellow Republicans should waste their time looking into issues of vote fraud. We wonder why.
Coulter, writing an op-ed in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger yesterday, is hoping to urge Republican "Tea Party" Senate candidate Chris McDaniel to not challenge the results of his very close, June 24th primary runoff election against six-term incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, warning that doing so is a "primrose path to political oblivion."
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Debunking Neil Cavuto of Fox 'News' and the 1970's 'global cooling' myth; Anti-science nuttery alive and well in Kentucky...and Mars; BP oil still contaminating fish in the Gulf; Canada's tar sands linked to cancer spike in First Nations tribes; PLUS: Popular pesticide may be killing off the birds and the bees ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Federal government still spending billions to subsidize fossil fuels; Global warming at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood; Helsinki's ambitious plan will make cars obsolete; Most Americans say they'll vote against climate change deniers; Carbon pollution standards reduce electricity rates; Greenpeace tells Lego 'everything is not awesome'; Fossil fuels are the new subprime investments; Australia climate politics stranger than fiction ... PLUS: Even if coal were free, it couldn’t compete with solar ... and much, MUCH more! ...
If the race for Sec. of State in Ohio is any indication, we may have still more evidence now to suggest that the decade-long Republican effort to enact disenfranchising poling place Photo ID restrictions, under the guise of fighting "voter fraud", may be turning a corner toward its final end as a viable GOP voter suppression strategy.
In May we wrote an article titled "Peak GOP 'Voter Fraud' Fraud?", offering several disparate clues to suggest that the well-funded, well-organized, initally under-the-radar national effort by Republicans to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters by requiring state-issued Photo ID they knew that many of them did not have, was headed towards a slow, but inevitable death.
That article followed on the heels of a seemingly devastating blow to Wisconsin's Photo ID restriction law by a federal judge who struck it down, finding in his landmark ruling that the statute was in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act, and that it was "absolutely clear" that the GOP-enacted law in the Badger State would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes."
Our legal analyst Ernie Canning analyzed the WI ruling along side the other federal challenges against similar laws that are still pending in states like Texas, North Carolina and Arkansas, to suggest the WI decision "does not bode well for Republicans who have been attempting to advance such electoral schemes in recent years, as based on misleading 'facts', wild claims and dishonest interpretations of case law and court precedent." His legal analysis attempts to explain why the WI case "would likely mark the beginning of the end for Republican-enacted, polling place Photo ID restrictions."
We'll see if we're right in the months ahead, but the race for Secretary of State currently under way in Iowa to replace the incumbent Republican SoS --- one who had been embarrassed to find next to no "voter fraud" after running in 2010 on the notion of stamping it out --- suggests that even Republicans are moving on to other ideas...
We've long regarded Maine's Republican Gov. Paul LePage as giving Arizona's Republican Gov. Jan Brewer a run for her money as the dumbest Governor in the nation, if not the dumbest in history.
But it appears that LePage has been making a real run for that latter title all along.
As early as 2011, we took notice just after LePage took office and immediately ordered the removal of a mural from the state's Dept. of Labor because it was too pro-uniony, or something. That and other "Tea Party"-ish behavior by the then new Governor resulted in a bunch of state Senators from his own party asking him, publicly, to tone it down a bit. "Were these isolated incidents, we would bite our collective tongues," the Republican lawmakers wrote in an op-ed at the time. "But, unfortunately, they are not isolated but frequent. Therefore, we feel we must speak out."
But that was just a taste for what was to come and what's been revealed about him this week...
Of course, when ALL CAPS you know it's serious! This love letter comes from someone named Alan Rockman at Facebook. For some reason, I was not allowed to reply to him there and I could not find his profile listed publicly. So I'll have to reply to him here instead. Either he's set himself to remain completely private, or he's been booted from Facebook. Given this unsolicited, if very thoughtful note he sent me recently, I wouldn't be surprised by either...
This amazing story reveals that the billion-dollar private security contracting firm Blackwater, hired by the George W. Bush Administration for all manner of things in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, was apparently even running rough-shod over the U.S. government itself. An investigation into allegations of their corrupt activities in 2007 --- well before their employees are said to have opened random automatic-weapon fire on a crowd in Iraq's Nisour Square (leading to deaths of 17 civilians, including a 9-year old boy) and the enormous blowback against U.S. troops and other interests that subsequently came with it --- was reportedly shut down by the Administration at the time after the firm's "top manager" in Iraq threatened the U.S. State Department's investigator looking into Blackwater's unbridled abuse of power and contract corruption.
According to documents buried by the U.S. government until now, Blackwater's chief in Iraq, Daniel Carroll warned State Dept. investigator Jean C. Richter to his face "that he could kill me at that very moment and no one could or would do anything about it as we were in Iraq".
The government's investigation of Blackwater went away almost immediately thereafter...
The case against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), charging that he ran a "criminal scheme" by coordinating his 2012 recall election campaign with about a dozen "outside" groups, is about much more than just Walker and his corruption.
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I spoke with Brendan Fischer, general counsel at the Center for Media and Democracy about what could be the very last piece of campaign finance law to fall in the wake of 2010's Citizens United and 2014's McCutcheon rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court. Depending on how the challenge against the case against Walker goes, there may be nothing left that keeps candidate campaigns from putting unlimited, undisclosed millions to work in buying our elections. In short, as I discussed with Fischer, democracy could well become even more hosed than it already is in this country. Who knew that was even possible, at this point?