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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Report Cites Armed Walker Supporters Plotting to Target Democratic Voters in WI
'We can get our agents to watch their polling location, identify the individual, and then follow them to their residence'...
Resignation or Impeachment Would Be a Gift for Wife- Beating Judge Mark Fuller
2012 documents suggest years of repeated domestic abuse, of two wives and children by federal judge with lifetime appointment...
ACLU Files Emergency Petition to Halt 'Electoral Chaos' in WI
Seeks full 7th Circuit hearing after remarkable three-GOP judge ruling reinstating Photo ID restrictions just weeks before election...
'Green News Report' 9/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
DiCaprio takes climate role at UN; Jindal plays dumbest role yet; Fracking confirmed (again) to contaminate; Black lung coal disease on rise; PLUS: Polluter front groups newest attack...
Previous GNRs: 9/16/14 - 9/11/14 - Archives...
Oil & Water: KPFK 'BradCast'
BRAD BLOG's Desi Doyen sits in for Brad with guests Matthew Heberger on water wars, David O. Atkins on CA's latest fracking fight, and Margot Paez on Mars!...
Audio of 911 Call from Judge Mark Fuller's Wife as She's Heard Repeatedly Struck
MSNBC's Chris Hayes plays horrifying audio from the wife-beating incident of Federal Judge Mark Fuller; ALSO: calls for accountability from two Alabama U.S. Congresswoman...
Bobby Jindal: Climate Denier, Boy Genius
Louisiana's governor and pretend 2016 GOP Presidential hopeful pulls the old 'I know you are, but what am I?' maneuver by calling the Obama Administration 'climate deniers'...
'Green News Report' 9/16/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Hottest year on record in CA, hottest Aug. on record for planet; Record hurricane hits Cabo San Lucas; Warm-water fish found in Alaska; PLUS: Burlington, VT now 100% renewable!...
Previous GNRs: 9/11/14 - 9/9/14 - Archives...
Wife-Beating Federal Judge Finally Mentioned on MSNBC
MSNBC contributor asks about lack of outrage, impeachment for federal judge Mark Fuller who beat his wife bloody in August...
Outrage Slowly Grows After Wife-Beating Federal Judge Avoids Prosecution
Fellow GOP District Court judge calls for accountability, says 'no one should trust Mark Fuller's judgment in a federal trial courtroom'...
GOP PHOTO ID RESTRICTION LAW RESTORED IN WI
Republican voter suppression laws getting huge boosts from GOP-appointed federal judges in NC, where 100s recently disenfranchised, and now in WI, in advance of critical mid-terms...
Not Taking the ISIS Bait
The media and the U.S. Government have decided to give the latest barbaric idiots to rise up in the Middle East all the publicity they crave, despite the 'exaggerated' threat posed to the U.S., or even in the region. We're not interested in playing along...
'Green News Report' 9/11/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Greenhouse gas emissions jump at record rate; Australia's emissions soar after carbon tax axed; Oceans acidifying at historic rate; PLUS: Some good news: Ozone Hole begone!...
Previous GNRs: 9/9/14 - 9/4/14 - Archives...
Accountability for Judge Fuller?; O, Mighty ISIS!:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Will Alabama's wife-beating U.S. District Court Judge face impeachment? Plus: Callers, lots of 'em, on what to do about ISIS...
Wife-Beaters: Rice Loses Job; Judge Fuller Continues Lifetime Appointment
America was outraged by the NFL superstar. So, what about Alabama's federal judge who beat his wife bloody and is now off scot-free?...
'Green News Report' 9/9/14
Floods: Catastrophic in Pakistan, Historic in Phoenix; Hillary on Global Warming; Rand Paul dismisses; PLUS: Lobster Boat Blockade wins!...
GA GOP State Senator: Too Many Black People Will Vote in DeKalb County!
Vows to close 'election loophole' allowing convenient Early Voting in area 'dominated by African Americans'; UPDATE: Says just wants 'more educated voters'...
GOP Allows 'Citizens United' Amendment to Move Forward, Will Vote Against
Koch Brothers' beneficiary Sen. Rand Paul wouldn't even allow that much...
NYT Public Editor Calls Out Paper for Phony 'Balance' on 'Voter Fraud', Global Warming
Margaret Sullivan's no weasel (unlike a predecessor). She's calling out the 'paper of record' again for misreporting on GOP myths...
Siegelman's Judge Strikes Deal to Avoid Trial After Beating Wife Bloody
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller to have record expunged following drug/alcohol evaluation, domestic abuse counseling...
ObamaCare 'Nightmare': 2015 Premiums Rates to DECLINE in Many Major Cities
This whole 'tyrannical government takeover of health care' thing is really a disaster...for Republicans...
Federal Judge Orders Restoration of Early Voting Hours in OH -- Again
'Ohio GOP keeps trying to cut early voting and federal courts keep striking the cuts down'...
'Green News Report' 9/4/14
Accountability for BP in Gulf Oil Spill Disaster and for PG&E in deadly pipeline explosion; CA bans plastic bags, regulates groundwater for first time in history...
The Corruption of U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman: KPFK 'BradCast'
GUEST: Attorney and BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest A. Canning...
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...


By Brad Friedman on 8/23/2014 2:34pm PT  

In response to concerns about the militarization of local police, which America has seen on shameful display in Ferguson, MO following the police killing of Michael Brown, President Obama indicated during a presser last Monday that there could be some change coming.

"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those line blurred," he said about the horses which long ago left the barn. "That would be contrary to our traditions."

He added: "I think that there will be some bi-partisan interest in re-examining some of those programs."

On Saturday, Obama announced an official review of the Pentagon's "1033 Program" which, since 1990, has transferred, for free, some $4 billion worth of surplus military equipment, such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, armored Humvees, high-caliber weapons, aircraft, armed drones and silencers, to local law enforcement agencies around the country. As CNN has just reported:

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of programs allowing for state and local enforcement to buy military equipment, a senior administration official said Saturday.

The decision follows public criticism of the use of such assets recently in Ferguson, Missouri.

The review will touch on several points, including

-- Whether such programs and funding are appropriate;

-- Whether state and local enforcement agencies have the necessary training and guidance after getting such equipment;

-- Whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding.

White House staff --- including members of the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget --- will lead the review in coordination with Congress, according to the official.

Reuters adds that "relevant U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury," will also participate in the review.

Last week, we reported on the small, but seemingly growing bi-partisan support for re-thinking the federal militarization of local law enforcement agencies. The rightwing New American, citing some of our coverage, has more on the bi-partisan calls for reform, noting that the "SWAT Lobby" (yes, apparently there's a "SWAT Lobby") is now working to defend the program.

On this week's BradCast we interviewed Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), a proponent of blocking the transfer of this kind of militarized equipment and for including accountability measures for the billions of dollars worth of equipment which has already been given to local agencies.

"My main hope is to stop the flow of this military grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies throughout America," Johnson told us during the interview on KPFK/Pacifica Radio. "We've been flooding the streets with this surplus military weaponry, and I think the situation in Ferguson exemplifies what happens when you have too much powerful equipment in the hands of folks who don't have the judgment or the training to utilize it properly." (Full interview here.)

The latest version of Johnson's "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act" [PDF] is here. The Congressman had begun work on the legislation long before Ferguson erupted, but is finally receiving recognition for that effort. Now, it seems, he and other proponents may have some support from the White House. But, we'll see. These "reviews" have a way of disappearing into the ether. Legislation like Johnson's, on the other hand, is what is needed to really make a difference in this shameful practice, which has, in truth, become little more than a way around the long-standing Posse Comitatus Act (1878) which expressly limited the use of federal military personnel to enforce local and state laws.

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By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2014 11:09pm PT  

I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), to discuss his "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act" [PDF] which he plans to introduce when the U.S. House returns from their endless recess in September.

He's been at work on the bill long before the local "RoboCops" hit the streets when Ferguson, Missouri blew up recently after the police killing of Michael Brown. As Johnson described the legislation in his March 2014 USA Today op-ed, presciently headlined "Small town American shouldn't resemble a war zone", the bill would "ban MRAPs, other armored personnel carriers, drones, assault weapons and aircraft" from being transferred to local police departments under the Pentagon's "1033 Program" and "ensure that the Department of Defense undertakes an annual accounting of what's been transferred, by whom and to whom to prevent military items from being auctioned on eBay or sold to friends."

"My main hope is to stop the flow of this military grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies throughout America," Johnson told me during our interview today. "We've been flooding the streets with this surplus military weaponry, and I think the situation in Ferguson exemplifies what happens when you have too much powerful equipment in the hands of folks who don't have the judgment or the training to utilize it properly."

But has the horse already left the barn on this issue? And does the Congressman stand a chance of getting his bill through our broken U.S. Congress, even with some apparent bi-partisan support for curbing police militarization from folks like Republican 2016 Presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, who recently called for the same in a Time magazine op-ed? You'll have to listen below to hear Johnson's thoughts on those questions.

After the Congressman left, I discussed a few other related items, such as the voter registration drive now taking place in Ferguson, and took a bunch of calls on all of the above, including at least one amazing one, in which the caller named "Al" insisted that "minorities are in worse shape than they've ever been" in this country. He says that "since 1965 we have been going down hill as a nation." Hmm... I wonder what might have happened during that year to make him feel that way?

I hope you'll enjoy this week's program...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2014 6:51pm PT  

[An updated version of this article has now been published by Salon. Updates to the version posted here, following the weekend's developments in Ferguson, are posted at the end of the article.]

On Wednesday night, I had snarked on Twitter about the lack of so-called "Tea Party" "patriots" --- like those brave boys and girls who, earlier this year, pointed their big assault-rifles at federal officials to protect the "right" of a scofflaw rancher in Nevada to illegally graze his cattle for free on land that he did not own --- failing to show up to protect the actual rights and freedoms of so many being denied them by actual Big Government Tyranny in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

Some Rightwingers, like libertarian Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com shot back at me (figuratively) on Twitter, arguing that "The Bundy patriots didn't take BS from the cops. They stood and fought," adding that the Ferguson protesters were facing the "same fight" and, had those protesters only brought guns with them, the police would have backed down. Or something.

"Would the cops be murdering blacks in #Ferguson if the people were armed? No," Raimondo told me, as if he just arrived in the U.S. from some other planet. "Armed resistance tends to discourage aggression," he insisted, between some silly ad hominem bluster in which he charged me with "worship[ing]" the government, and "lov[ing] the state that murders blacks" (also of being a "loser" with a "fat ass" or some such, but that's even easier to laugh at).

And then something changed on the streets of Ferguson Thursday night, which made Raimondo's comments seem even more transparently silly.

After the fully-militarized police were pulled away, ordered by the Missouri Governor to be replaced by grown-ups who marched with the protesters, calm and even jubilance returned to the previously tear gas-filled streets of Ferguson, MO. The contrast on Thursday night from the days prior couldn't have been more stark, according to virtually everyone on the ground there. It was the police, not the protesters, who had exacerbated roiling racial tensions, arrested reporters and needlessly filled the streets with panic and tear gas in the days prior, just as assuredly as it was a Ferguson cop who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen who was supposedly stopped for nothing more than alleged "Jay Walking".

It was peaceful citizens, with their empty hands in the air --- not pretend "patriots" aiming long guns at the buffoonish, intimidating, embarrassing, jungle-camouflaged-in-exurban-streets cops --- who may ultimately be seen as the ones who helped begin a national rollback of the absurd militarization, perhaps better described as "Hollywoodization," of our nation's law enforcement organizations.

It was not armed resistance, but peaceful resistance that may have brought about real, if tenuous, change in Ferguson, and maybe even the rest of the country...

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

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GUEST: Peace activist, author David Swanson...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2014 6:02am PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I invited peace activist David Swanson to explain to me why it's wrong for the U.S. to take military action in Iraq amidst what the President describes as "genocide".

David is a friend, occassional guest blogger here, and author of War is a Lie (2007), When the World Outlawed War (2011) and War No More: The Case for Abolition (2013).

I pressed him and he offered a smart, persuasive, and well-reasoned case. Yet, I'm still not certain that I'm persuaded. Please give the short conversation a listen and let me know what you think.

We also took calls on the above, and covered a bunch of other stuff, including updates on the CA Supreme Court nixing the "corporate personhood" ballot initiative (Prop 49); the extraordinary North Carolina "voter suppression" law that a federal judge (W. Bush appointee) has allowed to move forward for now; and the remarkable story of federal judge Mark Fuller --- who helped railroad former AL Gov. Don Siegelman (D) into federal prison --- being arrested and charged for allegedly beating up his latest wife in an Atlanta hotel room over the weekend.

All of that, and a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, as the News Summer from Hell continues...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2014 12:05pm PT  

It's that time of year again. Memorial Day weekend. When politicians of all parties love to pretend they care about the men and women they send away to fight and die for wars of political expediency, only to pretty much completely ignore them for the rest of their lives once they come back home.

The latest "outrage" about the various failings of the Veterans Administration is just more evidence of that. The Obama administration has known about many of the problems for years, but hasn't done nearly enough to fix them. Now that the issues have found their way into the media again, the Republicans, who've spent years denying veterans benefits and refusing to fund the VA at levels adequate to support their much-beloved wars-without-end, are pretending to be upset about it all --- now that they believe they can use it to hurt their real enemy, this particular President of the United States.

And that's where The Daily Show's Jon Stewart jumped back in to the matter last week, pointing out that the latest hypocrisy is, in fact, not particularly new for the U.S., not by a long shot.

Our friend Tom Courbat of Riverside, CA (decidedly not to be confused with Pennsylvania's democracy and freedom hating Gov. Tom Corbett) --- a Vietnam-era Agent Orange and Multiple Myeloma Surviving veteran, as well as great homefront hero of Democracy for many, many years --- requested we post Stewart's latest take over this Memorial Day weekend. We are all too happy to do so. It is, quite literally, the very least we can do to say thanks to Tom and all the others vets who have given far more for their country than it will ever be able to return in kind.

As Courbat writes us about Stewart's take (posted below): "Nothing, nothing I have EVER seen summarized as well how our country has managed to screw over our vets, going all the way back to our war for independence from England! You will be blown away by what you learn --- and this MUST be shown for the Memorial Day."

And so it shall be. Both parts of Stewart's epic takedown from Thursday night's show follow below. If you only have time for one of the two parts, let it be PART 2...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 5/15/2014 4:06pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Update on Turkish coal mine tragedy; California wilting and burning; Oil pipeline bursts in L.A.; PLUS: Military leaders warn climate change threatens national security --- so Fox "News" attacks the military... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

Link:
Embed:

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): Germany sets new solar energy record: 74% of electricity; CA drought may cause earthquakes, too; End fossil fuel burning, save $71 trillion - and preserve civilization; Funny: conservatives praise Antarctic Ice Sheet melt as beautiful expression of free market; Analysis: Should we cover our roads with solar panels?; Giant poster material literally absorbs pollution; Tropical cyclones shifting toward poles; Risks questioned at closed nuclear power plants ... PLUS: VIDEO: Colbert Embraces Conservative Solution to Climate Change: 'F*ck It' ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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Study on corporate espionage against nonprofits charges 'unethical, illegal tools' used by nation's largest corporations, trade groups...
By Brad Friedman on 11/21/2013 6:35am PT  

Oh, what fun. This, of course, is just one of the reasons why it's important that you help support and fund the work we do here at The BRAD BLOG. We're up against the unaccountable hoodlums and thugs like the far rightwing U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the largest lobbying organization in the world. So we must be doing something right.

And there is no tactic too dirty for the slimeballs at the Chamber, as we're reminded again in a new report by Gary Ruskin released Wednesday by the Institute of Public Accuracy titled "Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations" [PDF].

As Ruskin notes on page 22 of the new report...

Long time readers will recall the sleazy, likely criminal, $12 million 2011 scheme plotted by the mafia-like thugs at the U.S. Chamber targeting me, my family (who have nothing to do with my work), and other progressive organizations and activists who dared oppose their corporatist, anti-American agenda in even the slightest way. Their plot involved using tools developed by private government contractors (with taxpayer dollars) for the so-called "War on Terror", and turning them against private U.S. citizens for their corporate espionage benefit...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 11/14/2013 4:09pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another massive natural gas pipeline explosion in the US; Shoddy construction discovered on southern Keystone XL pipeline; Majority of red-state Americans now accept climate science; PLUS: The continuing and predicted humanitarian disaster of Super Typhoon Haiyan ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

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

Link:
Embed:

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): A carbon tax would cut the deficit by $1 trillion; An innovative bamboo scooter that runs on AIR; 2013 is seventh hottest year; Warsaw talks thrash out UN climate roadmap; Climate deniers must pay $90k; Walmart’s emissions soar despite green talk; Could Carl Sagan have defeated climate denial?; New 'plastic-eating' ecosystem discovered in deep ocean; US crushes ivory to stop poaching; CA faces driest year on record ... PLUS: The 9 biggest weather disasters in the next 30 Years ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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Also seeks to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the Tar Heel State, given its history of racial discrimination...
By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2013 5:03pm PT  

The U.S. Justice Department announced today that it will be filing suit to block the central provisions of North Carolina's new, draconian restrictions on voting.

The DoJ will also ask the federal courts to require preclearance for new election-related laws in the state.

The Tar Heel State's massive new, controversial restrictions on voting were passed by Republicans this Summer just after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in June. We've previously described the new measure as the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era.

The DoJ lawsuit is the latest element of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's vow this summer to use "every tool" at the DoJ's disposal to fight for voting rights after SCOTUS dismantled a key provision of the VRA that required jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination in election laws, such as North Carolina, to seek federal approval, or "preclearance" before new election related laws could be enforced.

The suit follows similar action by the DoJ in Texas, where new polling place Photo ID restrictions and Congressional redistricting --- both previously found by the DoJ and federal courts to be purposefully discriminatory in the Lone Star State --- are also being challenged as violations of the VRA and the U.S. Constitution. The federal suit in NC is the latest of several complaints filed against the state's massive new voting restrictions, all of them alleging, with no small amount of evidence in support, that the law is a racially motivated attempt to suppress minorities and other Democratic-leaning voters.

From the DoJ announcement today:

The United States' complaint contends that at least four provisions of [North Carolina's] House Bill 589 were adopted with the purpose, and will have the result, of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group. The complaint asks the court to prohibit North Carolina from enforcing these requirements, and also requests that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3(c) of the Voting Rights Act. If granted, this would subject North Carolina to a new preclearance requirement.

Note the important point in the above alleging that the NC law is not only discriminatory, it is also purposely so. That argument will be key to the DoJ's case that the new law is in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as its argument that the state should be "bailed in" to require preclearance, as per Section 3(c) of the Act...

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

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Allegations underscore need for Congressional investigation, grants of immunity, BEFORE authorization for use of military force...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/11/2013 11:58am PT  

On the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. presentation of inaccurate information concerning Iraqi WMD and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a group of high-ranking, former intelligence agency veterans and whistleblowers calling themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published their very first "VIPS Memo" to George W. Bush.

In their February 5, 2003 memo [PDF], the former intelligence professionals warned of the politicization of intelligence used by the Administration in their case for war, and cautioned against rushing into military action. They were, of course, ignored by Bush at the time.

A full decade, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies later, here we are again, as a President of the United States continues his call for U.S. involvement in yet another military excursion in the Middle East based on a "just trust us" public assessment of purported classified evidence.

Repeating the course they took in hopes of warning Bush after Powell's UN presentation, last week VIPS published another warning in the form of a memo to President Barack Obama, warning that his advisers may not be keeping him fully informed and asserting, among other things, "the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21."

While the VIPS memo presents a disturbing alleged scenario detailing claims that U.S. allies and intelligence officials had advanced knowledge of the August 21 chemical attack, like the White House claims, the VIPS scenario offers little more than serious, if unproven allegations unless and until they are substantiated, or refuted, by hard evidence or, preferably, a Congressional investigation including full immunity for the sources cited by the former intelligence veterans...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 9/9/2013 6:05am PT  

During last Tuesday's Green News Report, I snarked to my co-host Desi Doyen that Sec. of State John Kerry's recent comments at the Pacific Islands Forum about the serious threats posed by global warming have convinced me: We must bomb global warming!

She noted, in response, correctly, that actually there's a lot of analysis out there supporting the idea that "climate change, causing drought, is also part of the impetus behind the unrest in the Middle East."

Of course, I dismissed the charge out of hand, mostly for comedic effect. But I really shouldn't have, as ClimateCrock.com's Peter Sinclair explained in a detailed post last week, detailing exactly how drought attributed to climate change --- which devastated Syria and elsewhere in the region from 2006 to 2011 --- helped spark the initial protests at the beginning of the "Arab Spring" in 2010 and 2011, how it helped to exacerbate the current mess in the war-torn Syria, and how it's exactly what the Dept. of Defense --- and even Senator John Kerry --- had long ago tried to warn us all about...

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

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First surveillance-related floor vote since Snowden disclosures opposed by White House, secretly lobbied against by NSA head, supported by majority of Democrats and some Republicans
UPDATED: Congressional opponents of unlimited domestic surveillance vow to fight on...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 7:22pm PT  

A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.

The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.

Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."

* * *

UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 11:10am PT  

"If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we are all going to live to regret it," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned during a lengthy but powerful speech before the Center for American Progress on Tuesday.

In his remarks, Wyden, who has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, left no room for anyone to doubt the liberating impact of the recent revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For years, Wyden said, he had wanted to expose the extent to which the Executive Branch of our government and the leaders of the "intelligence community" had deceived the public about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, but, due to Senate's rules in regard to classified material, he was "not even allowed to tap the truth out in Morse code."

That roadblock has been removed. "The disclosures by an NSA contractor lit the surveillance world on fire," Wyden told the assembled students, journalists and policy wonks yesterday. "Several provisions of secret law that were secret were no longer secret, and the American people were finally able to see some of the things we [he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)] had been raising the alarm about for years."

That alarm centered not only on the unprecedented extent of the NSA's still-expanding, domestic surveillance capabilities but also, as he explained, on the unnecessary and dangerous, post-9/11 development of a secret system of laws that threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

These provisions, he warned, allow "the Executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, non-adversarial court and occasional secret Congressional hearings"...

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And why the rest of the world is having the last laugh...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/28/2013 1:04pm PT  

"Some countries are willing to stand up to the United States right now," Michael Ratner told Amy Goodman earlier this week, as he heaped praise upon Ecuador, the nation which previously granted political asylum to Ratner's client, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Ecuador has defied the U.S. by saying it will consider NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden's request for political asylum.

It is likely that Ecuador is already furnishing Snowden with some level of diplomatic protection. AP reports that, according to WikiLeaks, Snowden was being "escorted by diplomats and legal advisers" during his travels from Hong Kong to Russia last weekend. It seems likely that Snowden was met at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport by Ecuadorian diplomats. A black BMW with diplomatic license plates assigned to the Ecuadorian Embassy was reportedly, waiting at the airport last Sunday in advance of Snowden's arrival.

Ecuador is not the only nation that is unwilling to cooperate, for differing reasons, with an apparently vengeful U.S. government which has sought to make an example of Snowden by charging him with espionage. Some, like Hong Kong, have a longstanding commitment to free speech and the right to due process. Others, like Russia, have an interest in closer political and economic ties to the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) --- a group of socialist and social democratic Latin American and Caribbean nations that includes three potential Snowden destinations, Cuba, Venezuela and Ecuador.

In all cases, there appears to be a growing revulsion towards the overreach of the NSA's increasingly privatized, "Big Brother"-like intrusions and a growing recognition that the United States has long-since abandoned its mantle as a beacon of democracy and a nation devoted to "equal justice under the law"...

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'At the end of the day, it is on us - it is on all of us - what our government does in our name'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/28/2013 7:05am PT  

On MSNBC's All In Thursday night, Chris Hayes flagged Barbara Starr's Tuesday report at CNN on how, according to unnamed U.S. government intelligence officials who offer some very specific details, terrorists are now, allegedly, changing their habits in the wake of the recent surveillance disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Hayes cites Starr's reporting in order to point out the hypocrisy in how some leaks, those seemingly meant to make the Pentagon look good, are, apparently, perfectly fine in the eyes of many of the very same people who have otherwise criticized --- and even called for the arrest of --- both Snowden and Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who had the temerity to report on Snowden's leaks.

The point Hayes makes here --- the last one, in particular, about the "vast and growing web of secret government" and our responsibility for "what our government does in our name," as quoted below (along with his full video commentary), is right on the money...

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