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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, December 20, 2014
'Green News Report' 12/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Nothin' but good news for a change! - NY bans fracking!; Obama protects AK's Bristol Bay!; PLUS: More indictments for 'Freedom Industries' in WV toxic chemical spill!...
Previous GNRs: 12/16/14 - 12/11/14 - Archives...
Brad on Hartmann Radio: Wrapping Up a Few More Election 2014 Races
Yes, some of us are still paying attention.
Plus: A BRAD BLOG 'Programming Note'...
'Green News Report' 12/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Congress wraps for year w/ GOP anti-enviro initiatives to be signed by Prez; UN summit wraps up in Peru - ALL nations are in for Paris; PLUS: Another Bush, another climate denier...
Previous GNRs: 12/11/14 - 12/9/14 - Archives...
Bloomberg Editors Refuse to Correct Inaccurate, Misleading Photo ID Editorial
Read the 'mind-boggling' responses to BRAD BLOG's emailed explanation of blatant errors and inaccuracies in Francis Barry's op-ed...
Proponents of Oregon GMO Measure 92 Concede Defeat
Adverse court ruling, barring inclusion of 4,600 rejected ballots, signals end of road (for now) of state's most expensive campaign, decided by just 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast...
'Green News Report' 12/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP anti-enviro wish list in "Cromnibus" bill; Crunch time at UN climate talks; Calls for an end to fossil fuels; Australia goaded into action; PLUS: CEO indicted for WV chemical spill...
Previous GNRs: 12/9/14 - 12/4/14 - Archives...
The Clint Curtis Story, Ten Years Later: A KPFK 'BradCast' Special Edition
It's been 10 years since we broke the whistleblower's claim about vote-rigging software, Rep. Tom Feeney (R) and more. So it seemed a good time to catch up with him...
SOLVED: Mystery that Flipped Maine Senate Election!
21 'phantom ballots' flipped the results of a Nov. 4th state Senate election from D to R. But a dramatic turn of events and hand-counted paper ballots have now resolved the mystery...
'Green News Report' 12/9/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Super Typhoon Hagupit blows 2014 into record books; Doesn't look good for KXL, if Obama on Colbert Report can be believed; PLUS: Rich v. Poor divisions stall UN climate talks...
Previous GNRs: 12/4/14 - 12/2/14 - Archives...
Bad News for Fox 'News' Viewers: 'Fox & Friends' Calls for Voter Literacy Tests
If they had to pass a test on American history and government, Fox 'News' viewers, as studies show, would be in big, big trouble...
Thousands of Ballots Excluded from Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure 'Recount'
Proponents charge interference by out-of-state corporate opponents, state's failure to count legal ballots due to 'signature problems'...
NC Repubs Trying to Run-Out Clock on Voter Suppression Lawsuit (Again)?
Plaintiffs charge state attempt to reschedule next summer's federal trial 'unsupportable', 'disingenuous'...
'Green News Report' 12/4/14
Biggest German utility spins off fossil fuel assets; Fossil fuel biz running scared? FL punishes homeowners for not polluting; PLUS: MSNBC's Big Coal infomercial...
House Judiciary Letter Suggests Impeachment for Wife-Beating Judge
Bi-partisan congressmen seek update from 11th Circuit Court, cite potential impeachment of Judge Mark Fuller...
'Green News Report' 12/2/14
New UN summit underway; Record rain, drought in CA; Global cost of falling oil prices; PLUS: Legacy of world's worst industrial disaster, 30 years later...
'Recount', Concerns in AZ U.S. House Race
Razor-thin computer-reported margin, failed paper-ballot tabulators, untallied provisionals, terrible 'recount' rules leave Barber-McSally contest in AZ-2 unsettled...
'KPFK' BradCast: Maine Mystery, Ferguson Fury and Thanks for Something
'My thanks to all of you this Thanksgiving which, as a few callers reminded me, isn't nearly as terrible as it seems'...
Mysterious Ballots Flip Maine Senate Recount Result From Democratic to Republican
21 'phantom' ballots appear out of nowhere in tiny Maine town, reverse results of very close state contest...
'Recount' for Oregon's GMO Ballot Measure
Fewer than 900 votes separate 'Yes' from 'No' on 'Right to Know' Measure 92, out of more than 1.5 million paper ballots tallied by computers statewide in Nov. 4 election...
'Green News Report' 11/25/14
Cuomo blames meteorologists for his Buffalo storm fail; Canada protests another tar sands pipeline, lead's world in deforestation; PLUS: World Bank's dire warning...
No Indictment in Ferguson Shooting
A few thoughts on the St. Louis County Prosecutor's extraordinary spectacle and miscarriage of justice in the killing of Michael Brown...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


Former Massey Energy CEO and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Director could get 31 years for 2010's deadly West Virginia mine disaster...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/19/2014 6:05am PT  

On Friday, one day after the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a 43-page, four-count Criminal Indictment [PDF] against infamous, long-time West Virginia coal boss Donald L. Blankenship, U.S. District Court Judge Irene C. Berger issued a gag order in the case in an effort to secure a federal jury in West Virginia that could "be fair and impartial and whose verdict [will be] based only upon evidence presented during trial."

That will be no easy feat.

Blankenship, whom Rolling Stone described in 2010 as "the Dark Lord of Coal Country," is the former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Massey Energy Co. An extraordinarily rapacious capitalist, Blankenship is credited with transforming coal into an "aggressive, partisan industry" where the goal was to extract coal "as fast and as cheap as possible."

Blankenship is a principle force behind the environmentally destructive "mountaintop removal" --- a practice that "has destroyed 2,000 miles of streams and damaged more than a million acres of forest," according to Jeff Goodell at Rolling Stone. Under Blankenship's leadership, the magazine reports, Massey also "injected toxic coal slurry," a biproduct of washing coal before its used for burning, "near underground aquifers" resulting in contamination of drinking water. (Where, elsewhere in the U.S., heart disease is the top killer, in Appalachia cancer is the number one cause of death.)

Last week's federal indictment, however, relates to "the Dark Lord's" role in the massive April 5, 2010 explosion at the Massey-owned Upper Big Branch mine ("UBB") that resulted in the deaths of 29 Massey employees. It was the nation's worst mine disaster in the past 40 years.

The indictment alleges that "Blankenship...conspired to commit and cause routine violations of mandatory federal mine safety standards," including "ventilation" regulations designed to prevent explosions, in order to maximize profits; that he "conspired to defraud the United States by impeding the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration ("MSHA") in carrying out its duties at UBB," and that Blankenship made "materially false statements...to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission" essentially to protect the value of Massey stock.

If convicted, Blankenship could wind up serving 31 years in federal prison. If convicted. Therein lies the rub....

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2014 6:05am PT  

KPFK/Pacifica Radio is on fund drive of late, but with all the breaking election news this week, I couldn't stand to not do a fresh BradCast for my syndicated network affiliates who deserve better than a "Best Of" on a week like this one, as Election Day draws near.

So, since it appears this year's election is likely to be decided in the courts, before we even get to Election Day, here's our non-KPFK "Special Election Coverage Edition" for the affiliates and for you, as produced here at The BRAD BLOG World News Headquarters, rather than at the radio station as it is usually done.

No guests, no callers, just me, lots of information and rants, and an occasionally thought or question from my producer Desi Doyen. Given all of that, and the news this week and last (particularly from SCOTUS), the result may be somewhere between a radio broadcast and a primal scream. But many of my shows seem to amount to that these days.

We covered, among other things, the new GAO report confirming Photo ID voting restrictions depress turnout of African-American and younger voters; SCOTUS overturning appellate courts to allow GOP voter suppression laws in NC and in OH, with a decision on WI's voter suppression law not far behind (thanks to the federal judge who lied about it); Federal court striking down VA's gerrymandered Congressional map (for now); the GOP Attorney General candidate in AR caught committing voter fraud and, a lot of unusually good (and very welcome!) news in our latest Green News Report!

Buckle up, and enjoy! (And please consider donating below to our efforts! Your help is very much needed right now!)

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...

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(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)

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Dems use report to correctly cite need to fix part of Voting Rights Act broken by SCOTUS, but here's what they also aren't telling you...
By Brad Friedman on 10/8/2014 2:40pm PT  

A new 206-page report from by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office [PDF] finds that Republican-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in states such as Kansas and Tennessee resulted in lowered voter turnout among African-Americans as well as younger and recently-registered voters.

The study will likely serve as yet more important evidence to rebut the disingenuous, cherry-picked claims by Republicans over the years that Photo ID voting restrictions do not affect minority participation.

As The Hill reports today...

Voter ID laws helped contribute to lower voter turnout in Kansas and Tennessee in 2012, according a new study by the Government Accountability Office.

Congress's research arm blamed the two states' laws requiring that voters show identification on a dip in turnout in 2012 - about 2 percentage points in Kansas and between 2.2 and 3.2 percentage points in Tennessee. Those declines were greater among younger and African-American voters, when compared to turnout in other states.
...
"This new analysis from GAO reaffirms what many in Congress already know: Threats to the right to vote still exist," [Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT)] said in a statement. "That is why Congress must act to restore the fundamental protections of the Voting Rights Act that have been gutted by the Supreme Court."

The report, according to Leahy's full statement, "also found scant evidence of voter fraud that the new laws that ostensibly are designed to discourage."

I'm on a number of deadlines today, so haven't gotten to peruse the actual report yet, but let me note a quick point or two, based on The Hill's reporting on the GAO study, which was requested by Democratic Senators Leahy (VT), Durbin (IL), Schumer (NY), Nelson (FL) and independent Sanders (VT), all of whom are co-sponsoring legislation to fix the part of the Voting Rights Act that the U.S. Supreme Court gutted last year in its notorious 5-4 decision...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/3/2014 3:48pm PT  

Sari Horwitz and Al Kamen at WaPo suggest that Obama's current Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli, is at the top of the "short list" to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

"We're hearing that Solicitor General (the No. 4 slot at the Justice Department) Don Verrilli --- formerly deputy White House counsel --- may be atop the list," they report. "He's smart --- many say 'brilliant' --- well-liked by Obama and was confirmed by the Senate three years ago on a 72-16 vote. And one of those 'aye' votes, as our colleague Ruth Marcus pointed out, was from Majority-Leader-in-waiting Sen. Mitch McConnell. (R-Ky.)"

That's all well and good, and might help make Verrilli more confirmable in the U.S. Senate than other, better choices. Naturally, someone that Republicans can approve of should be one of the highest priorities in selecting Barack Obama's next Attorney General. (Sigh...)

But, that said, this might be a good time to point you back to our piece from early 2013, written by our legal analyst Ernie Canning, headined, "Donald Verrilli: Obama's Incompetent Solicitor General, Muddled Middle or Both?"

In the piece, Canning offers a fairly devastating analysis of Verrilli's dismal performance before the U.S. Supreme Court in two landmark marriage equality cases last year. As he wrote at the time, if the side that Verrilli was on in those cases eventually prevailed (they did, in both cases) it would "be despite the half-baked arguments presented by the Solicitor General, not because of them."

We'll also note that Verrilli's performance in the Voting Rights Act case was similarly nothing short of dismal. The other attorneys who also argued on the same side in the case (most notably, the NAACP's Debo Adegbile, whose later nomination to head the Civil Rights division of DoJ was shamefully torpedoed by Republicans and several Democrats) argued their case smartly and persuasively. Verrilli, by stark contrast, was horrible during oral argument, just as we found him to be in the marriage equality cases. The voting rights case was ultimately lost and SCOTUS infamously gutted the Voting Rights Act in the bargain.

Perhaps Verrilli is a better attorney and/or administrator than his skills as a litigator in oral argument before the Supreme Court revealed. But, if not, based on those cases last year, at least, it seems he'd be a disastrous choice as the next AG. Just thought we should mention that.

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Republican voter suppression laws getting huge boost from GOP jurists in WI and NC, where hundreds recently disenfranchised...
[Now UPDATED at bottom of article with additional info from the court order]
By Brad Friedman on 9/12/2014 3:51pm PT  

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

Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker notched a huge victory today at the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling could very well result in the controversial Governor's re-election this November --- at the expense of untold thousands of legally registered voters who may now not be able to vote at all this year.

This morning, a three-judge panel heard Walker's appeal to the federal ruling that previously struck down his Photo ID voting restriction law. By afternoon, almost immediately following the hearing, the three GOP-appointed federal judges (a Reagan appointee, and two George W. Bush appointees) restored the restrictive voting measure [PDF] in advance of the November general election.

As reported by the Journal Sentinel:

The move by the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for the state to implement the law for the Nov. 4 election, though it does not stop the ongoing appeal over whether the measure is unconstitutional.

"The state of Wisconsin may, if it wishes (and if it is appropriate under rules of state law), enforce the photo ID requirement in this November's elections," the unsigned two-page order reads.

Even before the ruling came down, reports from the courtroom earlier today had suggested that it wasn't looking good for those fighting for voting rights there, and that the judges might even order the previously struck-down law to be implemented before this year's mid-term elections, where Walker faces a neck-and-neck re-election contest with his Democratic opponent, Mary Burke.

Instituting the law at this late date, the plaintiffs argued, would cause extraordinary confusion. "I think it would be extremely irresponsible for a court to do something that would so change the landscape not only for the (state Division of Motor Vehicles) but for election officials," Larry Dupuis, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin told the Journal Sentinel after today's hearing.

UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen noted the same earlier today, before the ruling had come down, explaining why it would be "a very bad idea" to implement this law "just before the election."

Making matters worse, and more confusing for voters and elections officials, the WI GOP's Photo ID voting restriction covers absentee ballots as well as polling place voting, unlike most similar laws enacted by Republicans in other states, where only in-person voting is effected. But, according to the Journal-Sentinel (in a report now replaced online by an updated version on the court's late ruling), the fact that thousands of absentee ballots have already gone out to voters this year without an explanation on them that Photo ID needs to be supplied when they are returned, could result in even more disenfranchisement in the Badger State...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2014 5:42pm PT  

[Hat-tip @GGreenwald...]

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Daughter of AL's now-jailed Democratic Governor calls arrest of controversial Republican judge 'shocking', but offers sympathy...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2014 4:22pm PT  

The federal judge who oversaw the political prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman was arrested over the weekend after allegedly beating his wife in a posh hotel room in Atlanta...

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller was charged with misdemeanor battery and taken to the Fulton County jail around 2:30 Sunday morning.

Fuller, 55, is a judge in the Middle District of Alabama and presided over the 2006 bribery trial of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy.
...
Police responded to the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at 181 Peachtree Street at 10:47 p.m. According to Atlanta police spokeswoman Kim Jones, officers spoke to Fuller's wife, "who stated she was assaulted by her husband." Fuller's wife, who was not named by police, was treated by paramedics but refused treatment at a hospital.

According to Dan Whistenhunt of Decaturish.com, the Atlanta Police report says "The wife explained that she accused Fuller of having an affair with his law clerk. She said Fuller pulled her hair, threw her to the ground and kicked her. She told police that Fuller dragged her around the room and struck her in the mouth several times with his hands."

"Fuller said his wife threw a glass at him. Fuller said he grabbed his wife's hair 'to defend himself," Whistenhunt reports. "'When asked about the lacerations on her mouth, Mr. Fuller stated that he just threw her to the ground and that was it,' the report says."

"Police later discovered blood in the bathroom on the tub. Fuller did not have any marks or bruises, the officer noted. After medical personnel arrived, they noted additional bruises on his wife's legs."

"Fuller has faced allegations of domestic abuse before," Whistenhunt goes on to report. "The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press reported in 2012 that a Montgomery circuit judge sealed Fuller's divorce records. The divorce file is, 'wrought with accusations of domestic violence, drug abuse and the judge's alleged affair with his court bailiff,' according to the Reporters Committee."

When asked for comment this afternoon, Siegelman's daughter Dana described the news as "shocking" and "disturbing", but said the matter "seems to fall in line with the Buddhist philosophy of karma."

The BRAD BLOG has covered the Siegelman case in great detail over the years. The former governor, who is now serving time in a federal correctional institution in Louisiana for what 113 bi-partisan former Attorneys General agree had never been a crime before his promising political career was derailed by it, has long alleged that Fuller, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, had deep conflicts of interest on the case, and should have recused himself. Siegelman was found guilty on charges of bribery, though he insists, and the evidence shows, he never received any personal enrichment. (See 60 Minutes' 2008 coverage of the outrageous Siegelman prosecution right here.)

There has been a great deal of criticism of Fuller's refusal to recuse himself from the case against Siegelman, who has been described by supporters as "America's political prisoner". His work on the trial has been characterized as a "grudge match" by an extremely partisan judge with deep ties to GOP strategist Karl Rove against a very popular Democrat whose appointee had once investigated him.

Yet, even as efforts to free her father continue, and as Fuller was released from jail late today after posting a $5,000 bond, Dana Siegelman went on to offer a note of sympathy to Fuller's wife, family, and even Fuller himself...

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

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GUEST: Ari Berman, live from North Carolina...
By Brad Friedman on 7/9/2014 10:44pm PT  

We had a very enlightening conversation with The Nation's Ari Berman, straight out of the courtroom in North Carolina, on today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast.

Ari is in NC covering this week's hearings in federal court challenging what we've described as "the nation's most restrictive voter suppression law", as enacted by state Republicans just days after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act last summer.

This case --- and NC's law --- are really amazing. Most importantly, the results of this challenge, and the way the VRA must now be used to fight to protect voters from discriminatory laws, will be very important to similar challenges now pending across the country. In other words, this fight is important to NC, but it's arguably even more important to the entire nation.

Next up, we discussed the Rightwing stooge "reporter" Matthew Boyle, responsible for the fake 2012 story about a U.S. Senator and Dominican prostitutes, and my run-in with that same fake journalist back in 2011.

Then, Desi Doyen joins us for a few thoughts on Kentucky's genius climate change denying state Senator Brandon Smith and, as usual, for the latest Green News Report.

As a listener noted on Facebook tonight: "What a heavy duty broadcast today's was!", before adding: "It. Was. Awesome. And scary." Well, thanks! And you're welcome!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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State GOP's voter suppression law working as designed; Why has DoJ not challenged it yet?...
By Brad Friedman on 6/4/2014 12:41pm PT  

Yesterday we covered the story of 93-year old Willie Mims, the African-American man who was turned away from the polling place in Alabama for lack of a Photo ID, after having voted successfully in nearly every election since WWII.

Mims had a drivers license, but it had expired. So, according to the polling place Photo ID restriction law enacted by state Republicans, even though Mims would have had his photo on it and even an address that matched his voter registration, he was not allowed to cast his vote during yesterday's primary election.

But Mims was hardly the only one who was kept from voting yesterday, under the first official statewide run of the AL GOP's polling place Photo ID law. (The law was passed in 2011, but didn't take effect until now, since the state was waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to knock down the section of the Voting Rights Act that would likely have blocked the racially discriminatory statute from taking effect.)

Kay Campbell of AL.com shared this story yesterday of another long time voter who lost her right to vote thanks to the same law...

A Huntsville woman, 92, who has lived in the same house in Huntsville for 57 years and voted in every election since she was eligible, was turned away from the polls today because her driver's license expired nine months ago.

The voter, a great-grandmother to five, was deeply embarrassed by the whole incident and declined to talk directly with AL.com, but she gave her go-ahead for her neighbor, who took her to the polls, to relay the incident, with the provision that her name not be used.
...
The license had expired in August 2013. She had not renewed it because her eyesight is failing and she has made the tough decision to quit driving. But she thought since it was so recent, it would work. She uses it to cash checks and in other rare incidences when she is asked for an ID.

As we also noted yesterday, via MSNBC's Zachary Roth, Alabama has a loophole built into the law, which the NAACP Legal Defense fund describes [PDF] as "an illegal relic of the Jim Crow South". It allows a voter without the very specific state-issued Photo ID now required to cast a ballot, to vote anyway so long as two poll workers at the precinct can vouch for them.

Campbell reports that Libba Nicholson, the neighbor who drove the elderly woman to the polling place, "said that the woman in charge of the Help Desk asked the other poll workers if any of them recognized her - just one more verification would have done it, Nicholson said, but no one did."

And then there was this...

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

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State Republicans' voter suppression law hitting its target
UPDATED: Media coverage finally results in voting ID for Ruby Barber...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2014 6:03am PT  

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

Here is just one more of the hundreds of thousands of reasons that have led the U.S. Dept. of Justice to file suit against Texas Republicans' polling place Photo ID restriction law.

The same law had been previously blocked by the DoJ and again by a federal court under the federal Voting Rights Act, after the state's own data showed the law discriminated against racial minorities and others, while failing to deter actual voter fraud in the state.

But, literally minutes after SCOTUS gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act last Summer, the section which was used to strike down the law previously, Texas Republicans announced their intention to re-enact the law which, of course, they knew to be discriminatory.

As the Waco Tribune reports, 92-year old Ruby Barber has tried, but has so far failed, to obtain one of those so-called "free" Photo IDs from the Texas Dept. of Public Safety (DPS), now that one is required for her to cast her legal vote this year, as she had for decades, until now, without a problem.

Barber's story is heartbreaking and maddening but, unfortunately, probably not entirely rare. The DoJ estimated, based on the state's supplied data when the federal agency blocked the law in 2012, "the total number of registered voters [in Texas] who lack a driver's license or personal identification card issued by DPS could range from 603,892 to 795,955."

Barber's driver's license expired in 2010 and she's now having difficulty locating "her nearly century-old birth certificate that she'd need to obtain a voter ID under a new state law." As the New York Daily News reports, the details of Barber's story and her fight to try and cast her vote are simply absurd...

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

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Finds Republican restrictions on voting violate both the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act...
By Brad Friedman on 4/29/2014 6:43pm PT  

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

Very big news out of a federal court in Wisconsin today, where the state's polling place Photo ID law (Act 23) has now been struck down as both a violation of the federal Constitutional as well as under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

While similar laws, all enacted by Republicans, have been struck down by state courts before --- indeed, Wisconsin's, was already found in violation of the state constitution in state court --- and in federal courts under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, today's ruling is the first to strike down such a law under Section 2 of the VRA.

The landmark ruling will almost certainly have national implications for federal challenges in other states against similar restrictions recently enacted by Republicans.

Last summer, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the VRA by making Section 5 unenforceable until Congress passes new legislation to determine which jurisdictions must pre-clear new elections laws with the U.S. Dept. of Justice before they are put into effect, due to a history of racial discrimination in elections in those jurisdictions. Section 2, however, bars discrimination in all 50 states, even though, unlike Section 5, it cannot be applied until after the new law in question goes into effect.

Judge Lynn Adelman's ruling [PDF] today, finding WI's version of the law discriminatory and in violation of both Section 2 and the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution, is likely to have an impact on federal challenges to similar laws in states such as Texas and North Carolina, where federal cases are pending to block similarly discriminatory polling place restrictions.

Moreover, the judge placed the racial and class discrimination and disenfranchisement that would be caused by this law in stark terms, in regard to how many otherwise legal voters in Wisconsin might lose their right to vote, and how such a law might have directly affected the results of the state's 2010 election, had it been place at the time...

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Time to prosecute those accountable to fullest extent of the law...
By Brad Friedman on 4/11/2014 7:03pm PT  

The leaked release [PDF] of the conclusions from the long-researched and much-debated U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's still-unreleased 6,600-page report on the CIA's Bush-era secret detention and enhanced interrogation torture program reveals illegalities by the agency that include lying to Congress (and potentially the White House), the leaking of classified material and the misleading of federal investigators at both the CIA Inspector General's office as well as the Dept. of Justice.

The conclusions allege that the conditions for imprisonment and the torture that often accompanied it were "brutal and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers." But that's not all.

The report finds the CIA was incompetent in their handling of the program, endangered national security in the process, and appears to have committed international war crimes. There is also the small fact that the interrogation techniques used by the CIA failed to reveal any actual intelligence and, as the report concludes, "damaged the United States' global reputation, and came with heavy costs, both monetary and non­-monetary."

Other than that, the program worked great!

It's little wonder then that the CIA has gone to such lengths --- including spying on and attempting to sabotage the work being done by the Senate committee itself since 2008 --- to try and cover it all up. It's also little wonder that one of the program's most ardent supporters, Dick Cheney, has been working so hard to lie about it all for so many years. If you were likely a war criminal, wouldn't you do the same thing?

What may be considered more of an outstanding question is why the Obama Administration decided that it was okay to not prosecute the perpetrators of the blatant and broad swath of U.S. and international crimes detailed in the report as having been allegedly carried out by the CIA, its agents, its contractors, and any number of other high-ranking federal officials who knew about some or all of it.

The Senate Intel Committee has voted to release about 500 pages of the report, though those pages must be first redacted and then released by the White House (which may have its own complicity in a number of the crimes detailed.) The Senators have argued that the release is necessary to avoid this country ever going down this path again. But, in truth, only actual prosecution will deter that eventuality. As long as those who committed such vile and abhorrent crimes are not actually held accountable, all of this will almost certainly be repeated in the future.

Furthermore, if we fail to prosecute, we will also have little ground to hold other rogue countries accountable for the same crimes in the future.

The report should be released in full, even if it must be leaked to the media, and the perpetrators of the crimes detailed within should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If the U.S. won't do that, other countries are obligated to try and do so themselves under treaties that both they and we are a party to.

The twenty bullet point findings from the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's report, as leaked to McClatchy, which released them on Friday, follow in full below...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/7/2014 6:35am PT  

Just over a week ago, it was North Carolina legislators ordered by the court to cough up documentation relating to passage of new, draconian restrictions on voting rights in their state. Now, legislators in Texas are facing much the same thing, as that state's extreme polling place Photo ID restrictions also face legal and Constitutional challenge.

By way of an eight-page Order [PDF] issued late last week, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos has directed the State of Texas to serve upon the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) documents that relate to the question of whether "state legislators, contrary to their public pronouncements, acted with discriminatory intent in enacting SB 14," the Lone Star State's polling place Photo ID restriction law.

That law had previously been found to be discriminatory against minority voters in TX, and thus rejected by both the DoJ and a federal court panel as a violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). It was then re-enacted by the state of Texas almost immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a central provision of the VRA in the summer of 2013.

As reported by The BRAD BLOG last September, the DoJ, and Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX), filed separate federal lawsuits (now consolidated into a single case, Veasey v. Perry) in which they allege that the Photo ID law enacted by the Texas legislature (SB 14) violates another section of the VRA, Section 2, as well as the U.S. Constitution.

The documents in question, created by Republican officials and lawmakers, which must now be turned over to the court, may shed light on the actual intent of those officials in enacting the restrictive voting law...

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Emails may show attempted discrimination, tie effort to GOP/ALEC's nationwide vote suppression tactics...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/31/2014 6:35am PT  

A U.S. District judge has ruled that Republican legislators in North Carolina must provide documents revealing their work in passing and implementing a radical election reform bill which, when it was passed last year, was described by opponents as the "worse-than-anyone-would-have-ever-imagined voter suppression bill."

Late last week, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake issued an Order [PDF] in which she rejected a blanket refusal by NC Republican state legislators to provide any documents that relate to the question of whether the sweeping legislation known as the Voter Information Reform Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) amounted to nothing less than a racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutional right to vote.

As we observed when the law was hastily enacted last year, among the law's myriad ways of making registration and voting much more difficult, VIVA includes "draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite the absence of any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program."

VIVA was quickly passed last year on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial, 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The decision resulted in the gutting of a central provision of the federal Voting Rights Act. Before that, most of the measures in VIVA could not have taken effect unless they received advance approval from either the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) or a federal court. Such approval could have been obtained only if NC established that VIVA was neither intended to nor would have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or being the member of a language minority.

The new ruling may help plaintiffs establish violations of both the still-standing elements of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, the order to compel documentation concerning the law's genesis in NC, if upheld, could also have a broader national significance...

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Heavy metals said discharged directly into rivers, streams by Alpha Natural Resources Inc.
$27.5m fine, $200m to be paid to 'reduce illegal toxic discharges'...
By Brad Friedman on 3/5/2014 11:38am PT  

Big news on the Big 'Clean Coal' front today, just breaking from AP's Dina Cappiello [emphasis added]...

One of the nation's largest coal producers will pay a $27.5 million fine and is set to spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into waterways across five Appalachian states.

The proposed settlement is the largest ever of its kind.

The Associated Press obtained details before the settlement involving Alpha Natural Resources Inc. was filed in court in West Virginia.

The government says the company and its subsidiaries violated water pollution limits in state-issued permits more than 6,000 times between 2006 and 2013.

The government says they discharged heavy metals harmful to fish and other wildlife directly into rivers and streams.

The companies agreed to take measures to reduce discharges from 79 active coal mines and 25 processing plants in Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In January of 2011, Alpha Natural Resources, then the third largest coal producer in the U.S., purchased Massey Energy Co. for $7.1 billion to become what Bloomberg News described as "the world’s third-largest metallurgical coal producer" and "the second-largest U.S. coal company by sales, with almost 14,000 employees."

The acquisition happened just months after the horrific April 5th, 2010 explosion at Massey's Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, West Virginia. 29 people were killed in the explosion, described as "the worst U.S. coal mining disaster in 40 years."

The tragedy at the Upper Big Branch mine would be upstaged just 15 days later, on April 20th, when BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and dumping some 5 million barrels of crude oil into the water over the next 87 days.

As coal and oil families mourned in WV and elsewhere, and as the country watched the unprecedented and unstoppable toxic discharge in the Gulf, it seems that Alpha was quietly poisoning rivers and streams in at least five states and fighting, along with fellow supporters of Big Fossil Fuel, to block the nation's transition to clean, renewable energy.

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