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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 30, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
Latest barometer of denialist desperation: The rightwing 'thought leader', as usual, is wrong on the facts and science, so he's just taking his ball and going home...
Video Captures GA Family Disowning, Assaulting 20-Year Old Gay Son
But there is a "happy" ending, of sorts, to this heartbreaking and disturbing story...
'Green News Report' 8/28/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP refinery explodes. Again.; UN report warns of 'irreversible' warming; Fines for oil, chem spills; 22% of world elec. is now green; PLUS: People's Climate March coming to NYC...
Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad interviews open records advocate Charlie Grapski on his evidence that Ferguson and St. Louis County police are illegally withholding evidence in the killing of Michael Brown; Plus MUCH more...
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
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...
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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
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CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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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
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EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
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GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 5/29/2013 4:01pm PT  

Despite another "no contest" plea to four charges of voter fraud today, Hamilton County (Cincinnati), OH's crackdown on voter fraud, has yet to produce a conviction for a crime that might have been stopped had GOP-supported polling place Photo ID restriction laws been in place.

Here's the latest, via Cincinnati's NPR affiliate WVXU:

Melowese Richardson, the Madisonville poll worker accused for voting illegally for herself and others over three elections, entered no contest pleas in court this morning to four of the eight charges against her.
...
The other four counts were dismissed.

The 58-year-old Richardson, a long-time poll worker at the Madisonville Recreation Center...voted twice for herself in the 2012 election; and in elections in 2012, 2011 and 2009, she cast ballots for a number of friends and family members - one of whom was in a coma at the time.

As usual, it was an election insider, in this case, a pollworker, who attempted to defraud the system. As a pollworker, she figured out how to cast ballots for folks she knew would not be showing up to vote in person themselves.

No polling place Photo ID restriction --- as favored by Republicans claiming to want to stop "voter fraud" (but, really, just hoping to stop legal, largely Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast a vote) --- would have deterred her insider efforts.

Out of the 421,997 votes cast in Hamilton County's 2012 November general election (and more in primaries last year) prosecutors have also been able to net two more convictions, both for absentee ballot fraud, which is also not affected in any way by the polling place Photo ID restrictions called for by Republicans...

Earlier this month, Russell Glossop, a 74-year-old Symmnes Township man, entered a guilty plea to a charge of illegal voting by casting an absentee ballot last fall for his dead wife.
...
The same is true of Sister Marguerite Kloos, a Sister of Charity who had cast a ballot for another nun who had died last fall before absentee ballots had been mailed out.

As The BRAD BLOG has reported for years, based on empirical study after empirical study to back up the case, in-person polling place impersonation, the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, is extraordinarily rare. Republican-enacted laws passed (theoretically) to deter it, stand to disenfranchise far more perfectly legal voters --- exponentially so --- than fraudulent votes that might ever be deterred by such laws.

Last August, for example, we reported on a new nationwide analysis by a non-partisan news consortium which examined every single election fraud case in the U.S. going back to 2000. Their findings? Out of thousands of cases of fraud, and hundreds of millions of legal votes cast in all 50 states for more than a decade, the study identified just ten (10!) cases of in-person voter fraud that might have been deterred by Republican polling place Photo ID restriction laws.

At the same time, partisan Republican groups such as "True the Vote" continue to fraudulently claim a massive "voter fraud" epidemic in support of GOP Photo ID restrictions. As we reported last December, their website had boasted of "voter fraud convictions in 46 states", but deceptively failed to point out that ZERO of the allegations and convictions cited would have been deterred by polling place Photo ID laws.

In the meantime, if you're looking for actual fraud, please see our article from last August, detailing election fraud allegations and convictions, for very high profile Republicans --- including Mitt Romney and even the former Sec. of State of Indiana (who was convicted of 3 felony voter fraud counts, even while he was the chief election official tasked with overseeing and enforcing the state's first-in-the-nation polling place Photo ID restriction law). None of the cases cited in the article, of those very high-profile GOPers, would have been deterred by the type of voting restriction laws favored by Republicans.

* * *
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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/28/2013 4:00pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: WA bridge collapse another 'wake-up call' on the nation's infrastructure; CA Gov. Brown calls for immediate action on climate change; Global protest "March Against Monsanto" against GMOs; PLUS: CBO says carbon tax a good idea - but only if you care about future Americans (Oh, and dead rats are falling from the sky!)... 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): Wal-mart pleads guilty to toxic waste dumping [no jail time!]; Stunning report slams U.S. food inspection, safety; Electric car-maker Better Place: what went wrong?; Shocker: CBS' Face the Nation covers climate change & extreme weather; Majority of world population to face water shortages by 2050; Explainer: Utilities vs. renewables for dummies; NY pilot program to compost city food scraps; Russia's Arctic research station evacuated due to melting ice ... PLUS: Ending world hunger with a 3-D printer? NASA's newest project ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2013 3:15pm PT  

After he was interrupted, several times, by CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin during his foreign policy speech on Thursday, President Obama said: "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to."

I agree with that part of his response, which was met with applause in the room. I rather liked the questions that Benjamin shouted out before and as she was eventually led out of the room. She offered a pretty well constructed set of thoughts and questions, particularly under the circumstances. And I'd love to hear the President's answers to a few of her questions.

Here's what she said, as well as I was able to capture her remarks from the video...

It's not Congress. It's you, sir. There are 102 people on a hunger strike [in the Guantanamo Bay prison]. These are desperate people. 86 have been cleared for release. You are Commander-in-Chief. You can close Guantanamo today. You can release those 86 prisoners today.
...
How about Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American killed by drones. Is that the way we treat a 16-year-old American? Why was he killed? Can you tell us why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed?

Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer here at home.

I love my country! I love the rule of law! The drones are making us less safe. And keeping people in indefinite detention in Guantanamo is making us less safe. Abide by the rule of law. You're a Constitutional lawyer!

For the record, the President absolutely can release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release immediately, as Benjamin noted. He does not have to, as he likes to suggest, get approval from Congress to do that. He can release them immediately. He only needs Congressional approval to move prisoners (such as the ones who may actually face some sort of trial or military tribunal) to another prison on the U.S. mainland.

Despite his assertions to the contrary, as seen in the video below, Obama did not address the concerns of Benjamin. He did not explain why 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed. He did not answer whether drone strikes would be taken out of the hands of the unaccountable CIA and given to the slightly-more-accountable military. He did not respond to the question about compensation to the families of innocent victims killed in drone strikes. He did not speak to whether "signature strikes" with drones (attacks based on profiles of those believed to be gathered at a particular location, rather than a specific person believed to be in the group) would be ended. He should address all of those issues.

* * *

Video of the section of his speech during which the President was interrupted several times by Benjamin --- remarkably, she was not removed the first several times --- and his responses to her, follows below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2013 3:40pm PT  

Yesterday, we ran a very short piece arguing that "Fox 'News' and Republicans Were For Prosecuting Journalists Before They Were Against It".

In it, we briefly documented the Obama DoJ's attack on journalists and journalism, as most recently highlighted by the sweeping subpoena of AP reporters' phone records and the naming of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to subpoena his email and much more in the course of a national security leak investigation. We highlighted how these sorts of outrageous attacks on the media were something that the Right had very much approved of under Bush, and even under Obama, at least until it struck a bit too close to home for them, particularly with the latest news about Rosen. Now, of course, Fox and friends claim to be outraged! about it all.

In our report, we cited an excellent recent piece by Constitutional attorney turned UK Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. In that column, he smartly decried the aggressive actions of the Obama Administration. At the end of his piece, in an update, he dinged the Right for their hypocrisy in this matter. (It was the latter which we generally focused on in our own piece, though we also pointed out how Greenwald has been extraordinarily consistent over the years in his no-holds-barred critique of First Amendment erosions, whether they were carried out by the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration. For his championing of First Amendment rights he has received much partisan criticism over the years, first from Bush loyalists during the Bush Administration, and now from partisan Obama loyalists during the current administration.)

In response to our piece, BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" went off on a tear against Greenwald, charging that "he has been lying incessantly about the James Rosen story"; that he "has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting"; that he is "an opponent of Barack Obama [who] won't let the truth get in the way of that opposition"; and, perhaps most sharply, that he "is now in the same business as [Republican Congressman and U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman] Darrell Issa."

Setting the invective aside, the main of Billy's critique of Greenwald seems to be that Rosen's original 2009 article at Fox --- the one which resulted in the DoJ naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator and the indictment of Rosen's alleged State Department leak source Steven Jin-Woo Kim --- led to the dangerous exposure of U.S. intelligence gathering operations and assets in North Korea.

Rosen's report on North Korea "presumably made it very easy for them to eliminate the operation," Billy argued, in apparent support of the Obama DoJ's actions. "At worst, this publication may have cost American intelligence sources their lives."

"But Glenn Greenwald, who has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting, described Kim's leak to Rosen as a case of communicating 'innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington.' Clearly it was not," fumed Billy.

[Read "Billy's" initial comment here and scroll down for my own responses to him thereafter.]

We asked Greenwald whether he had yet to reply to the charge that he had "lied" about the Rosen case when describing the reported leaks as "innocuous" and, if not, if he'd like to. He sent us a response to that allegation, which he asked that we publish in full. Happy to. The complete response from Greenwald follows below...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/23/2013 3:11pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: House GOP votes again to expedite Keystone XL pipeline; New Energy Secretary Moniz declares climate change science 'not debatable'; Oklahoma tornado the 2nd costliest in U.S. history; New rules for fracking on public lands; PLUS: California teen invents a battery that could charge your cell phone in 20 seconds ... 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): How Memorial Day gas price hikes enrich oil companies; The truth about the anti-wind movement (tiny, paranoid, disinformed, Koch-funded); Top 10 cities to be screwed by climate change (sorry, Phoenix); CBO: Carbon tax an option to avoid 'catastrophic' outcomes; China to launch carbon emissions market; Print solar panels at home ... PLUS: Crazy Time: Alex Jones explains how "the government" caused deadly Oklahoma tornado ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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...And before one of their own got caught in Obama's buzz-saw...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2013 4:26pm PT  

If you haven't already, you should read Glenn Greenwald's full take, published earlier this week, on the Obama DoJ's astonishing invasion of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen's work as a journalist by naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to access his email, phone records and more in the course of the Obama Administration's criminal investigation into an alleged leak of classified material by State Department official Steven Jin-Woo Kim.

(For a somewhat different take on the matter, Jack Shafer's column at Reuters "What was James Rosen thinking?" is smart and worth reading, even as I find it uncomfortably close to flat out blaming the victim.)

To his credit, Greenwald's consistent stance over the years on this issue --- from his documentation of outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Bush Administration, to outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Obama Administration (much of which he references in his report linked above) --- earn him a lot of cred here. It has also earned him scorn from both the Right and supporters of the Obama Administration.

What has made all of this additionally amusing/maddening over the past week, however, has been the hypocritical turn by the Right and Fox "News" --- now that one of its own has been caught in the buzz-saw. Suddenly, they are outraged --- outraged! --- over the chill on journalism and journalistic freedom and the assault on the First Amendment now that it's the Obama Administration that is doing it and, I should add, now that it's being done to them. Recall, they didn't much care --- supported it, in fact --- when there were similar attacks on journalists at New York Times and Washington Post by the Bush Administration. Or, more recently, under Obama, against journalists like Julian Assange at WikiLeaks just a year or two ago. As discussed during my 2010 interview with legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, then Fox "News" contributor Sarah Palin, for example, called for Assange to be hunted down like a terrorist "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders".

True, the Obama Administration has taken the Bush War on Journalism to a whole new and disturbing level, but essentially he's simply continuing --- arguably, fulfilling --- the long-stated, long-supported-by-the-Right positions of the previous Administration. And they are the exact same positions they supported even just a year or two ago when calling for the prosecution of Assange!

It's a pretty clever win-win scam by the Right, in truth. Slam Obama as being "soft on national security!", and then yell and scream about it (justifiably so, in this case) when he takes action to prevent leaks "in the name of national security".

In an update to his full story, Greenwald added the following thoughts along with a short Meet the Press video from 2006 that you need to see. While watching it, please note how favorite Rightwing/Bush Administration son Bill Bennett was pushing for everything that the Right and Fox "News" now claim to be outraged about today. (They really should be outraged about it today, by the way. But they should have been equally outraged about it back when they and Bennett were actually arguing in support of heading straight down the slippery slope we are now gliding down at breakneck speed)...

Meanwhile, to convey just how warped this all is: it really is true that this very behavior of trying to criminalize national security reporting was a driving force of the worst elements on the Right during the Bush years; back then, I wrote constantly about the dangers to press freedoms such threats, by themselves, posed. Please just watch this 4-minute segment from a 2006 Meet the Press episode where the Washington Post's Dana Priest explains to Bill Bennett, who had called for her imprisonment, exactly what press freedoms and the law actually provide; Bill Bennett is who - and what - the Obama DOJ and its defenders are channeling today:

* * *

UPDATE 5/24/2013: BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" has made a serious charge that Greenwald was "lying" in his column cited above. I've asked Greenwald for a response to that charge and have now posted it here.

Moreover, this additionally disturbing information about the Rosen case has just been reported today...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
SPECIAL REPORT: Disaster in Moore, OK
By Desi Doyen on 5/21/2013 3:56pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: A Green News Special Report: Devastation as another record tornado hits Moore, OK - The city wakes up to the day after, questions about resilience and the influence of climate change ... 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): Midwest drought: Wells dry, fertile plains turn to dust; Utilities vs. rooftop solar: What the fight is about; Native chiefs walk out of Keystone XL negotiations; US hits 100k plug-in vehicles; Feds again delay restarting San Onofre nuke plant; Remember when IRS targeted environmental groups?; US approves natural gas export terminal; After 30 years, Camp Lejeune coming clean on toxic water ... PLUS: We Have Met the Unknown Unknowns --- and They are Us ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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PLUS: OK Senators favor federal disaster relief aid for constituents, even after voting against it following Superstorm Sandy...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2013 1:26pm PT  

Yesterday's horrific, tragic and enormous tornado in Moore, OK has been described as "the biggest, most destructive tornado in the history of the world."

In its wake, many are questioning the relationship between such monster storms and climate change. Here's a statement from Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in response to that question, as obtained via email today by Peter Sinclair (he, of the geat Climate Denial Crock of the Week website):

Of course tornadoes are very much a weather phenomenon. They come from certain thunderstorms, usually super-cell thunderstorms that are in a wind shear environment that promotes rotation. The main climate change connection is via the basic instability of the low level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place.

Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air.

The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10% effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 32% effect in terms of damage.

(It is highly nonlinear).

So there is a chain of events and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a super-cell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.

So, in short, Trenberth seems to suggest that while one cannot directly "blame" climate change itself for any particular storm, the altered weather patterns, thanks to global warming and the increased moisture in the air, increase, fairly radically, the probability of such storms and, in turn, their size and destructive power.

Or, if you prefer, you can listen to leading climate science denier Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma who has said many times in the past that concerns about man-made climate change are nothing more than "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and nothing to worry about.

While we haven't heard him say as much today yet, for some odd reason, he has explained that he --- like his fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, will support federal disaster relief funding for his state, unlike their vote against federal disaster relief funding for the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy last year. Why? Because, as Inhofe explained today, the money for his state won't simply be a "slush fund", as he described the relief for the millions of East Coasters affected by Hurricane Sandy. "That won't happen in Oklahoma," he said.

Meanwhile, Coburn (who is also a climate change denier), after also voting against relief for Hurricane Sandy while tens of thousands were left homeless on the East Coast in the middle of winter, slammed those who charged hypocrisy in his promise of federal relief "without delay" for his own OK constituents.

"It is crass," his office said in a statement to reporters, "for critics to play disaster aid politics when first responders are pulling victims from the rubble."

By Coburn's reckoning, apparently, the time to "play disaster aid politics" is a few days or months later, as he did with Sandy aid, when victims were freezing and without power or homes.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 5/21/2013 7:04am PT  

In a white paper issued in March, the California Federation of Labor (CFL) called for reforms to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, a California GOP-sponsored workers' compensation "reform" bill that was touted by AP in April 2004 as “one of the biggest victories of [then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's] new political career".

The celluloid action hero insisted the "reform" was necessary to curtail the spiraling costs of workers' compensation insurance for California employers.

As the CFL white paper correctly notes, the rationale behind Schwarzenegger's workers' compensation "reform" legislation was largely a scam. Like so many other investment schemes, the source of spiraling workers' compensation costs can be found in the 1993 deregulation of the insurance industry and a subsequent burst of a workers' compensation insurance investment bubble. Yet, Schwarzenegger refused to include limits on the rates insurance companies could charge employers as part of his "reform" package.

Despite an initial drop in the cost of workers' compensation insurance in California, costs have again climbed --- so much so that, according to a May 15 article that appeared in the Ventura County Star, "the Port of Hueneme is preparing to pay 120 percent more for workers' compensation insurance" in the coming year.

Contrary to the philandering actor-turned-Governor's claims that the savings would not be extracted from the backs of injured workers, SB 899 contained drastic reductions in benefits --- so drastic that, in a 2004 letter published by Los Angeles Times, after pointing out that I had represented litigants in workers' compensation proceedings since 1979 and was regarded by my peers as an exceptionally effective litigator, I warned California employees that if they were injured on the job, God help them because I was not sure I could.

Whatever efforts are now made to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, they will come too late for my client, Charles Romano. Thanks to the law's massive reduction in prohibitive penalties that could have been assessed for bad faith refusals to furnish vital, life-sustaining medical treatment --- the new penalties are a drop-in-the-bucket compared to what it had cost to keep him alive --- Charles is no longer with us...

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

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Racing to jump on the 'scandal' bandwagon, top-tier network newsmen each get the stories wrong, fail to correct record...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2013 12:38pm PT  

Despite completely misreporting on Administration emails related to the pretend Benghazi "scandal", after they were misquoted (and/or fabricated) to him by a reportedly Republican source, ABC News and their White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl still refuse to properly correct and apologize for having lied about "obtaining" those emails.

Had Karl's error --- compounded by his "cover-up" even more than his original "crime" --- contained news that falsely appeared good for Democrats instead of for Republicans, he would have been hammered and forever discredited by the Right until finally fired by ABC News. But, alas, his completely false report on Benghazi benefited Republicans rather than Democrats, so no biggie, it seems. He gets to keep his career!

ABC's Karl, however, wasn't the only top-tier network newsman who blew it big time, further tarnishing the profession over the past week, not by a long shot.

Here's how NBC's Brian Williams opened --- opened! --- NBC Nightly News last Tuesday, the same day that the Treasury Department's Inspector General report was released, offering zero evidence of White House involvement in the so-called IRS "scandal"...

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

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But Obama (and media) fall for it again...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2013 4:20pm PT  

"Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups --- and political intimidation --- in this administration," declared the opportunistic Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee during a hearing today on the "scandal" related to the IRS use of Rightwing words such as "Tea Party" to help identify groups applying for tax-exempt status which might be operating in violation of the tax code.

The key phrase there is: "Listening to the nightly news..."

Rep. David Camp (R-MI) was correct in at least that part of his statement. If you listened to the way this supposed "scandal" is being reported by the bulk of the corporate media, you'd think the poorly chosen criteria used by low-level IRS officials in trying to identify taxpayer-subsidized organizations that might be carrying out political operations in violation of the law, was part of a "culture of cover-up" and "political intimidation" on par with Richard Nixon ordering his Dept. of Justice to target political enemies.

Then again, if you listened only to the corporate media, you --- like the Obama Administration --- also probably thought that the phony, trumped-up "scandals" that led to the inappropriate firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, the cowardly firing of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and the outrageous federal defunding of ACORN were also the unhappy result of an endemic culture of corruption by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party and its insidious political apparatchiks.

Those fake scandals, however, all three of them, were shams. They were eventually identified as such, though only after a great deal of harm to Sherrod, Jones and ACORN had already been done by the Democrats who fell for them and acted out of knee-jerk and cowardly fear to try and contain the perception of "scandal" which was, naturally, helped along by the very loud misreporting of "the nightly news".

The supposed IRS "scandal", as we detailed yesterday both here at The BRAD BLOG and at Salon --- after having bothered to actually read the full Treasury Department Inspector General's report [PDF] before reporting on it (didn't anybody else?!) --- appears almost as phony as those other three "scandals", despite the "outrage" over seemingly non-existent "misconduct", as Obama described it, by IRS employees.

Our general assessment --- based on the IG's findings --- that this "scandal" appears to be an enormous over-reaction to poorly thought out procedures and lousy management by low-level IRS officials, has been shored up since publishing our article yesterday, both by today's House hearings and by scattered media coverage elsewhere.

As usual, with these things, the Republicans cry "COVER-UP!", "OUTRAGE!", "SCANDAL!"; the corporate media credulously, unskeptically and dutifully reports it as such; the Obama Administration knee-jerks out of fear and starts firing people (like the Acting Commissioner of the IRS who wasn't even at the agency during the period in question) in hopes of showing how they are on top of things and will not tolerate such "outrages!"; and Republicans opportunistically use the entire matter to create a phony sense of partisanship, incompetence and tyranny (seemingly opposite notions, but never mind that) on the part of the Administration.

It works every time, it seems, since the very top-tier corporate media, as well as the Obama Administration, keep falling for it over and over and over again...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

During remarks at the White House yesterday evening, President Obama offered his opinions on the Treasury Department Inspector General's report [PDF] finding that the IRS used "inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status," in order to review those groups "for indications of significant political campaign intervention."

He described "the misconduct that is uncovered" in the report as "inexcusable". He said that "Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," adding that he "will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

Obama then announced that his Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, had requested and accepted the resignation of the Acting Commissioner of the IRS --- the man who wasn't even in that role during the period in question at the IRS --- "because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward."

That all sounds very tough and decisive(!), but after having slogged through the full IG's report, I'm not sure what "misconduct" the President is actually referring to. That word would seem to imply that someone at the IRS was purposely or criminally misbehaving. They may have been, and further investigation may uncover such behavior, but if there was purposeful or criminal misconduct by anyone in the office, the IG's report doesn't seem to offer any actual evidence of it.

The IG's report offers evidence of much confusion, poor training, unclear directives and what seems to be pretty lousy, or, at least, extremely ineffective management at the department of the IRS tasked with approving or rejecting tax-exempt status for 501(c)(3) "charitable groups" and 501(c)(4) "social welfare organizations". Members of Congress, as well as government watchdog groups have long argued that many of those tax-payer subsidized organizations have abused the privilege and violated the legal restrictions on political activity by such groups. The abuse has been particularly widespread, they argue, in the wake of the Citizens United decision and the flood of largely unrestricted, often completely anonymous money funneled to those types of groups for often purely-political purposes.

Further investigation, including a criminal investigation promised by the Dept. of Justice, may uncover the type of "misconduct" the President claims to be outraged by, but the evidence for it is not found in the IG's report, no matter how much Republicans are currently suggesting the opposite.

Also NOT found in the IG's report:

  • Any evidence that "Tea Party" related groups were identified during this process for nefarious reasons;
  • Any type of identification, political or otherwise, for the groups whose applications were similarly flagged and delayed ("Tea Party" related groups made up only a minority, approximately 1/3 of the groups whose applications were delayed and held for further examination);
  • Any indication or evidence whatsoever that the White House, or anybody outside of the IRS units handling these cases, had anything to do with what happened;
  • Any response to the other question the IG's office was tasked by Congress to investigate, namely: "whether existing social welfare organizations are improperly engaged in a substantial, or even predominant, amount of campaign activity."

Allow me to offer some quick details in support of each of the bullet points above...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2013 4:26pm PT  

Apparently, we were wrong last March, when we interpreted Attorney General Eric Holder's Congressional testimony to mean that the big banks were just "too big to jail".

"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large," Holder testified at the time.

"It has an inhibiting influence --- impact --- on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate," he continued. "So, the concern that you raise is actually one that I share."

That's what he said in March. But apparently, despite that, he now says, banks are not too big to jail. That's what Holder "very, very, very" much wants us now to believe, according to his testimony in Congress today...

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But Obama's IRS and DoJ/AP scandals didn't happen in a vacuum...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2013 6:05am PT  

Government officials and employees responsible for the allegedly inappropriate scrutiny of Rightwing groups applying for non-profit, tax-exempt status as "social welfare organizations" (tax-payer subsidized, supposedly non-partisan 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) groups) should be investigated and, if appropriate, disciplined, fired and/or charged under criminal statutes.

Government officials and employees responsible for secretly subpoenaing the phone records of AP reporters ought to similarly be investigated and, if appropriate, disciplined, fired and/or charged under criminal statutes --- though it is likely that the government has already given itself legal dispensation to carry out that sort of invasive, seemingly extra-Constitutional, certainly un-American intimidation of whistleblowers and journalists alike.

That said, it's been predictably amusing over the past 24 hours or so, witnessing the outrage --- outrage! --- of Rightwingers over the very things that they not only didn't give a rat's ass about when the same, and often much worse, was carried out by the Bush Administration, but that they actively supported at the time.

"They say two wrongs don’t make a right, but ignoring one of those wrongs while vilifying the other is intellectually dishonest and violently hypocritical, among other things," writes Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter, noting that "Democrats have almost universally condemned the actions of the IRS, as they’ve done when the congressional Republicans and, naturally, the Bush administration used the nearly unlimited might of the government to engage in similar investigations — or worse."

"Republicans," he writes, "spent eight years defending, applauding and enabling Bush abuses on this front, while subsequently cheerleading the congressional Republicans as they carry forward the politics of intimidation and government overreach into the Obama era."

Cesca goes on to list "10 Examples of Bush and the Republicans Using Government Power to Target Critics", beginning with the Republican-supported Big Government assaults on Planned Parenthood, ACORN (which succeeded in putting a four-decade old community organization out of business), and on even the ability of perfectly legal American voters to simply cast a vote in their own elections. He also reminds us of the abuse of the Bush Dept. of Justice which, specifically, targeted Democrats for prosecution, and for the firing of U.S. Attorneys without cause, other than they were not partisan enough for the tastes of the Bush White House.

But while the Obama Administration deserves appropriate scrutiny and investigation and accountability for whatever its part in both the developing IRS and DoJ/AP scandals, let us not forget some of these certainly-as-bad, arguably-worse scandals related to both the IRS and the DoJ --- from during the Bush Administration --- that Republicans not only didn't give a damn about, but often applauded for most of the past decade...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/14/2013 3:33pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Sequester budget cuts hit federal firefighting response during an early wildfire season; More good news for Tesla Motors, bad news for loser Mitt Romney; Scientists accidentally discover new way to make cleaner steel; Another city votes for solar on all new construction; PLUS: Sec. of State John Kerry bluntly criticizes the US for climate change inaction ... 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): Idiocracy: WSJ's 'CO2 Is What Plants Crave'; Chile offers to export fresh water to Qatar; US shale oil supply shock shifts global power balance; Oil companies turn to shipping by rail; Supreme Court rules for Monsanto; Plans to export U.S. natural gas stir debate; Turning CO2 emissions into algae, fuel & animal feed; Panasonic to give away 100k solar lanterns to developing countries; Cutting down rain forests mean less hydropower for developing nations: study ... PLUS: America's first climate refugees: Newtok, Alaska is losing ground to the sea at a dangerous rate and for its residents, exile is inevitable ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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