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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, April 26, 2015
The Daily Show With Brad Friedman!
Okay, it's not the Daily Show, but beginning Monday, April 27, we'll be producing The BradCast five days a week for a while...
SCOTUS Nixes Drug Searches at Routine Traffic Stops
Ruling comes a bit late for one man in Deming, NM whose unreasonable search and siezure by local cops was almost beyond words...
'Green News Report' 4/23/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Oklahoma finally admits fracking truth about earthquakes; Fines and accountability for spills and deadly explosions; PLUS: Enviros push back at TPP trade deal...
Previous GNRs: 4/21/15 - 4/16/15 - Archives...
CA's Mandatory Restrictions on Urban Water Usage Won't Solve Drought Crisis
Cuts to agricultural and energy production usage, as well as increases in supply are needed immediately...
Earth Day Toons o' The Moment
Would you rather laugh or cry on the 45th anniversary of Earth Day? BRAD BLOG toon curator 'PDiddie' let's you decide...
Letter to the Editor of the Moment: 'One of Four'
No, North Carolina (and Texas and Tennessee and South Carolina) Photo ID voting restrictions are NOT the same as those 'in 34 other states', Patrick Gannon...
'Green News Report' 4/21/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP Gulf Disaster, 5 years later; For Earth Day, Obama pushes again for climate action; Jan-March 2015 hottest ever recorded; PLUS: Jeb thinks climate change is a thing...
Previous GNRs: 4/16/15 - 4/14/15 - Archives...
Updates in Judge Mark Fuller 'Wife Beating' Cast
Criminal charges dismissed as expected; More testimony heard by 11th Circuit panel; Senate seeks update; Calls for impeachment persist...
Sunday Toons of the Moment: Knives Are Out
Hillary's 'primary'; the continuing U.S. Police state; and the Republicans head further over reality's edge...
Ohio and ACLU Announce Legal Settlement to Restore Some Early Voting Hours
'Far from perfect' deal may end years-long court battle to block GOP restrictions on access to Buckeye State polling places...
Virginia Finally Dumps 'WINVote' System After Horrific Security Analysis
Decade old 100% unverifiable touchscreen system found vulnerable to simple, wireless, wholesale, remote manipulation of votes...
'Green News Report' 4/16/15
  w/ Brad & Desi
Ontario joins cap and trade system to fight global warming; Harvard students seek fossil fuel divestment; Americans support carbon tax; PLUS: The last male white rhino on Earth...
Previous GNRs: 4/14/15 - 4/9/15 - Archives...
War is the Default:
KPFK 'BradCast'
For the mainstream media, war is now peace and more militarism is 'mellowing out'. Brad explains. Plus, much more, including more 'ObamaCare' lies & great listener calls!...
Sunday Toons: Hospital to the Right
After taking apart the Ted Cruz campaign logo, 'PDiddie' says turnabout is fair play and takes a look at Hillary's new, and already much-aligned, campaign logo...
Lottery Computer Hacked - But Partisans and Profiteers Still Want Internet Voting?!
Multimillion dollar lottery security system couldn't keep out a determined crook, but local elections officials could?!...
'Green News Report' 4/14/15
Another GOP climate denier enters 2016 race; And a non-denier jumps in on Dem side; Bad news for Big Coal in China; PLUS: FL's denier disease spreading to WI...
Koch Bros. Stand Up for 'Millions of Montanans' Against Medicaid Expansion
...Even though there aren't 'millions of Montanans'. That's how little the Kochs care about folks they hope to con...
More 'ObamaCare' Success: Uninsured Rates Plummet
At the end of the ACA's second open enrollment period, 9 out of 10 Americans are now covered as proponents had hoped and as the GOP hopes you don't notice...
'Climate Change' Down the 'Memory Hole'
Republican governments in Florida and now Wisconsin are hoping that avoiding references to climate change means that there is no climate change. And Orwell is smiling...
Sunday Toons: Gathering No Moss Edition
If its not on video tape it didn't happen. Oops. PLUS: Rand, Hillary, Cruz and Rolling Stone into infamy...
Tiny Tim Told Us in 1970:
'The Ice Caps Are Melting!'
We didn't listen. But, perhaps, it was because we were too busy being mesmerized by this amazing performance...
'Green News Report' 4/9/15
Climate denying Rand runs for President; Climate denial a looming prob for GOP; Thawing permafrost a looming prob for the planet; PLUS: Greening L.A...
Letter to the Editor of the Moment:
'Cowards and Bullies'
An 'enlightening little quiz' and a spot-on conclusion...
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...


No, North Carolina (and Texas and Tennessee and South Carolina) Photo ID voting restrictions are NOT the same as those 'in 34 other states'...
By Brad Friedman on 4/21/2015 9:35pm PT  

Recently, North Carolina opinion columnist and NC Insider editor Patrick Gannon misinformed readers of the Asheville Citizen-Times by telling them that the anti-voting law passed by Republicans after they took over the statehouse in 2013 --- a law which we (and others) have described as "the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era" --- isn't actually so bad.

"In many ways," apologist Gannon writes, the bill simply "put North Carolina more on par with other states."

He argues, as if it's a good thing, that while NC "once had among the least restrictive --- or more voter-friendly --- sets of election laws...That is no longer true." So, less "voter-friendly" is just fine by him, it seems.

Gannon offers justification for each of the key restrictions that now hamstring NC's once rather progressive and, yes, voter-friendly election laws, by arguing that the GOP's changes do little more than put the state back in line with voting laws in other states "including Texas and South Carolina." Again, as if that's a good thing.

But a Citizen-Times letter writer, in response, offers a key clarification to one of the most egregious bits of misinformation offered by Gannon --- one frequently parroted by Rightwing vote suppressors --- that the Photo ID restrictions passed as part of NC's new law are just like provisions for Voter IDs in "34 states that have passed voter identification requirements."

That, as letter writer Mike Burns accurately (if more politely) explains, is complete bullshit...

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

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Some, but not all, attempted GOP cutbacks to Early Voting nixed...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2015 12:35pm PT  

A deal announced today by Ohio's Secretary of State may help avoid some of the legal nightmares that plagued the Buckeye State's 2014 elections. While the legal settlement [PDF] restores some of the early voting access Republicans have been attempted, for years, to impose, it also leaves other rollbacks to voting reforms passed after the state's 2004 Presidential nightmare in place.

MSNBC's Zach Roth explains the agreement between Ohio's Republican Sec. of State and the ACLU, which had sued on behalf of the Ohio NAACP and League of Women Voters last year to block new GOP cuts to polling place access:

The deal, announced Friday morning between Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, and the ACLU, undoes some but not all of the damage to voting access caused by last year's cuts. It restores one day of Sunday voting and adds weekday evening hours, but lets stand the elimination of a week when Ohioans had been able to register and vote all in one day.

Both sides hailed the new agreement --- hopefully ending a years-long, roller-coaster legal battle --- as a victory for voters, though Roth added on Twitter that the deal, overall, seemed to be more of a victory for the GOP than for voting rights advocates. Elections expert Daniel Smith is a bit more optimistic about it today, noting that it's "a much bigger deal to have extended hours" and Sunday "Souls to the Polls" voting restored, even as the ACLU, for its part, concedes the settlement is "far from perfect"...

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

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The abcde's of how NOT to hardcode passwords for 'secure' elections...
By Brad Friedman on 4/17/2015 6:05am PT  

Virginia has decided to learn what much of the country already knows. The 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems they have long been using in their public elections are also 100% hackable.

After ignoring the warnings and using them anyway for more than a decade --- and three Presidential elections --- a recent incident on Election Day in 2014 led the Commonwealth to finally do what they should have and could have done long ago: test the machines to find out how vulnerable they actually are.

Well, they finally did so and --- boy howdy! --- did they discover what the rest of us have been warning about for years.

There is a reason, after all, that Virginia was the last state in the union to continue using the WINVote system made by the ironically named Advanced Voting Solutions (AVS). And there is a reason why, after finally bothering to test them, Virginia has now immediately decertified one-fifth of the voting systems used across the state, even though it will leave some jurisdictions scrambling for new ways to hold their primary elections scheduled for early June.

We've been noting problems with the WINVote system almost as long as The BRAD BLOG has been in existence. One example is our short report from 2007, when we discussed problems with the AVS systems before the company eventually went out of business entirely and after the WINVote system had been decertified by Pennsylvania when the company refused to pay the federal testing lab examining a newer version of the system for federal certification. Before those tests were discontinued at the time, we reported, the lab had "found 1,946 source code anomalies, 25 serious documentation problems, and an unauthorized change of motherboards."

As we wrote in 2007, "Elections officials want to ignore those problems." The elections officials in Virginia were precisely among those we were talking about.

But, no more. Once VA officials finally decided to do their own long-overdue security analysis of the systems, "Security deficiencies were identified in multiple areas, including physical controls, network access, operating system controls, data protection, and the voting tally process," according to the 6-page report [PDF] released by the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) this week.

"The combination of critical vulnerabilities in these areas, along with the ability to remotely modify votes discretely, is considered to present a significant risk. This heightened level of risk has led VITA security staff to conclude that [a] malicious third party could be able to alter votes on these devices," they wrote, adding tersely: "These machines should not remain in service."

The details of the Commonwealth's findings (now that they've looked for them) are so mind-blowingly startling that some Virginia localities who are losing their voting systems are now perfectly happy with the idea that they may have to --- gasp! --- hand count paper ballots in their upcoming elections...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 4/15/2015 6:35am PT  

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

BRAD BLOG reader "Plumb Bob" left this comment recently, following our short piece on concerns about the results of last week's Mayoral race in Chicago:

This alleged rigging of a lottery drawing reported today:
http://arstechnica.com/t...to-score-winning-ticket/

So if one guy can do it with all the security measures (and lottery dollars are government money) and only get caught because he can't figure out how to cash the ticket...

He did this for a measly $14 mil; what's a state wide or national election worth? Either in dollars for the mercenary, or in effort for the true believers?

Explain again how electronic voting is secure? This sure looks like a contrary proof to me.

"Plumb Bob" is, of course, absolutely right.

But there's far more to this story that should be used as a huge takeaway for those partisans and profiteers who continue to push not just for electronic voting, but for Internet Voting, even as a recent Internet Voting scheme in Australia's New South Wales was found to be vulnerable to manipulation and has resulted, as predicted, in an election with some 66,000 votes that many feel may have been tampered with...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 4/6/2015 8:35am PT  

A provision added to Ohio's new transportation bill by Republican lawmakers would have made it more difficult --- and expensive --- for out-of-state students to vote in the Buckeye State. The scheme would have required anybody who registers to vote there to obtain an Ohio driver's license and register their car in the state (at a cost of at least $75) within 30 days, or risk losing their right to drive.

That provision, voting rights advocates warned, was likely to deter out-of-state students at Ohio colleges and universities from registering to vote there, despite a long-held U.S. Supreme Court determination that students may register to vote where they attend school.

The good news on this issue is that while Ohio's Republican Gov. John Kasich signed the transportation bill last week, he used a line-item veto to remove the offending provision. But more than a bit of potential confusion --- and the ability to deter student voters from exercising their right --- still looms...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 4/1/2015 6:51pm PT  

We covered a lot of ground on this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio.

From today's breaking news on Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ); to today's breaking news on mandatory water restrictions in CA; to a shockingly good act of MSM journalism helping to force Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) to do the right thing; to our latest exclusive on U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller's "wife-beating" case; to callers' opinions (lots of 'em!) on the one condition I'd agree to in exchange for mandatory voting (a very popular condition, it seems!)

PLUS, one caller surprises me with a song that seems to be about me (it actually has my name in it!) and Desi Doyen joins us for a very amusing Green News Report!...

Told ya we covered a lot of ground. Please enjoy it! I know I did!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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GUESTS: Estee Chandler; Ernest Canning...
By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2015 2:35pm PT  

Was Netanyahu/Likud's win last week in Israel the best possible outcome for Palestinians? While it seems counter-intuitive at first blush, some who follow Israeli/Palestinian politics very closely say it was.

My guest on this week's Pacifica Radio BradCast, Estee Chandler of JewishVoiceForPeace.org and the producer/co-host of KPFK's Middle East in Focus program believes that is the case and tells me why. She offers a different (and very welcome) perspective than the Right/Left (and now, sadly, Republican/Democratic) narrative we've heard so much of from most of the media since last week's election.

Also, BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning joins me to discuss the U.S. Supreme Court's refusal to hear the WI Photo ID voting case and what that means for voting across the country in 2016, as well as the error the CA Supreme Court seems to have made when they removed Prop 49 (the "Overturn Citizens United" initiative) from the 2014 ballot last year.

Plus, Ted Cruz' astoundingly ingenious if extraordinary cynical remark the day after he declared his intention to seek the 2016 GOP nomination for President; OH tries a new voter suppression tactic; another predictable Internet Voting failure in Australia; Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report and MUCH MORE!...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 3/25/2015 11:54am PT  

I wrote a bit about this after last year's elections, though from a different direction. But, given the recent remarks by President Obama (and more than a fair bit of questionable reporting about those remarks), its worth adding a few more thoughts here.

Over the years, I've seen folks misinterpret The BRAD BLOG's coverage of voting and elections and voter suppression by presuming that by covering these things, it's the same thing as telling everyone to vote.

In fact, I strongly believe in the right to not vote. While I think it's a counter-productive response to pretty much everything --- including the misguided and lazy notions that "elections don't really matter" or "both parties are the same" --- I would fight for your right to not vote under our existing system as vigorously as I'd fight for your right to vote (if you want to) and to have that vote counted, counted accurately and in a way that everyone can know that everyone's votes have been counted accurately.

With that in mind, it was interesting to see the reactions to President Obama's statement last week in Cleveland which some, including CNN and, naturally, the ever-outraged Fox "News", took it upon themselves to interpret as a call for "mandatory voting" in the U.S...

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

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Decision means Constitutionality of 'discriminatory' voting laws unlikely to be determined by Supremes before 2016 Presidential elections...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2015 2:36pm PT  

A few weeks ago, our legal analyst Ernie Canning warned how the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision on whether or not to hear the ACLU's challenge to the Wisconsin GOP Photo ID voting law might be the last chance before the 2016 Presidential elections to determine the Constitutionality of such laws.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to grant cert in the WI challenge in the Frank v. Walker case. The decision is not a ruling on the merits of the case or the Constitutionality of the law. It simply means that, for now, there were not four votes on the Court to hear the ACLU's challenge at this time.

It also means that, barring further court action or a quick decision on a similar law out of another state, polling place Photo ID restrictions on voters will be allowed in the Badger State in 2016. That, despite the fact that the federal trial court found, when striking down the law as unconstitutional and a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act last year, that the new Republican-enacted law may serve to bar some 300,000 disproportionately Democratic-leaning and already lawfully registered voters from casting a ballot in the state's Presidential election.

There is also more than a bit of irony in this matter, in that, after U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman soundly rejected the law in 2014 --- finding that "evidence adduced at trial demonstrates" WI's Act 23 "disproportionately impacts Black and Latino voters" and that the law would "prevent more legitimate votes from being cast than fraudulent votes" --- the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals deadlocked (disingenously) 5 to 5 on whether to stay the original ruling. That deadlock meant the stay would be granted and the WI law would be allowed, barring further court challenges, despite the fact that 6 federal judges had voted to strike down the law, while just 5 had voted in its favor. To make matters worse, Act 23 had also been struck down previously in state court as a violation of the state constitution as well. Nonetheless, in this matter, a minority of judges successfully ruled against the majority.

All of that, despite a blistering dissent filed in last year's 7th Circuit Court WI decision by against the law (and all such laws) from revered conservative 7th Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. Posner's original ruling in favor of a Photo ID restriction law in Crawford v. Marion County, Indiana, was the basis of the first such case to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court, upholding Indiana's Photo ID law in 2008. So his unambiguous reversal on the issue, now that we know much more about such laws, was noteworthy and, opponents of the law had hoped, convincing to the Supremes who have, for many years, favorably cited the legal scholar's opinions.

Though the 7th Circuit's decision to temporarily stay the original ruling striking down the law was later vacated by the U.S. Supreme Court last year --- on the basis that the stay was made too close to the election --- the discriminatory law is now back in place in the state. The refusal by the Court to grant cert this weeks means that it will likely remain in place as the next Presidential election begins.

Some watching these matters closely, however, believe that Monday's decision by SCOTUS to not hear the Wisconsin case may ultimately be a good thing, perhaps "a blessing in disguise"...

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

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'Major security hole' could allow attacker to read, change votes...
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2015 6:05am PT  

Another new Internet Voting system, another major vulnerability to massive election fraud discovered along with it. This time in Australia, as reported by ABC:

A "major security hole" that could allow an attacker to read or change someone's vote has been discovered in the New South Wales online iVote platform, security experts say.

The iVote system allows people to lodge their votes for Saturday's state election online, instead of visiting a physical polling station.

It aims to make voting easier for the disabled or for people who live long distances from polling booths.

However computer security researchers said they found a critical issue and alerted the NSW Electoral Commission on Friday afternoon.

The commission said the problem was fixed over the weekend and it expected 200,000 people would use the system in the lead up to the election.

Well. If the people who run it said it was fixed, why worry? (Just because they also said it was secure in the first place? Silly you.)

"Just because they've patched this particular bug that they've been specifically notified of does not mean that they've fixed the fundamental questions around the security and verifiability of the system," said University of Melbourne's Vanessa Teague, who discovered the security vulnerability. "If anything the existence of this one particular bug serves to bolster the argument that these kinds of bugs are probably inevitable in these kinds of systems"...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 3/18/2015 7:08pm PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, we air, for the first time, the complete EXCLUSIVE audio obtained via public records request from the Atlanta PD, that appears to contradict 'self-defense' claims by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller following his arrest on domestic battery charges last year after his wife called 911 claiming he was "beating on her".

I also update my report on Fuller with new comment in response from Fuller's attorney, Barry Ragsdale.

Also on this week's show: Breaking news on today's shootings in Tunisia and Phoenix; Questions about Israel's election results; Donald Trump claims he's entering the 2016 GOP Presidential race (Dems celebrate); Oregon institutes Universal Voter Registration; and Desi Doyen joins us to explain the "impending disaster" of Friday's solar eclipse in Europe and, as usual, for the latest Green News Report...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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UPDATED with an addendum to note the one OTHER U.S. state which has already had 'Universal Registration' in place for some time...
By Brad Friedman on 3/17/2015 2:30pm PT  

Oh, look! A glimmer of common sense rationality in an otherwise World of Stupid of late!

As readers know, I'm no fan of Oregon's all Vote-by-Mail elections. (Yes, I understand most of you Oregonians love it. Save your hate mail and/or read this and this and this and this and this.) Nor am I a fan of Washington Post's mostly terrible editorial page. But on this matter, both the state and the paper have it right...

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

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FULL TRANSCRIPT OF STIRRING SPEECH NOW POSTED...
By Brad Friedman on 3/7/2015 1:55pm PT  

President Barack Obama offered a stirring speech this afternoon at the entrance to the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Bloody Sunday March in Selma, Alabama in 1965.

The brutal police violence brought against courageous, peaceful marchers that day, and the subsequent peaceful marches that followed it, led directly to the passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation's history.

The transcript of Obama's speech today is posted in full below. But, here is the portion of his remarks calling for the restoration of the VRA which was renewed for 25 years in 2006 by George W. Bush (one of very few Republican officials in attendance today), but then gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013...

And with effort, we can protect the foundation stone of our democracy for which so many marched across this bridge — and that is the right to vote. Right now, in 2015, fifty years after Selma, there are laws across this country designed to make it harder for people to vote. As we speak, more of such laws are being proposed. Meanwhile, the Voting Rights Act, the culmination of so much blood and sweat and tears, the product of so much sacrifice in the face of wanton violence, stands weakened, its future subject to partisan rancor.

How can that be? The Voting Rights Act was one of the crowning achievements of our democracy, the result of Republican and Democratic effort. President Reagan signed its renewal when he was in office. President Bush signed its renewal when he was in office. One hundred Members of Congress have come here today to honor people who were willing to die for the right it protects. If we want to honor this day, let these hundred go back to Washington, and gather four hundred more, and together, pledge to make it their mission to restore the law this year.

Of course, our democracy is not the task of Congress alone, or the courts alone, or the President alone. If every new voter suppression law was struck down today, we'd still have one of the lowest voting rates among free peoples. Fifty years ago, registering to vote here in Selma and much of the South meant guessing the number of jellybeans in a jar or bubbles on a bar of soap. It meant risking your dignity, and sometimes, your life. What is our excuse today for not voting? How do we so casually discard the right for which so many fought? How do we so fully give away our power, our voice, in shaping America's future?

* * *

The complete transcript of Obama's prepared 3/7/2015 speech commemorating the sacrifices of the 3/7/1965 Bloody Sunday March, along with many other sacrifices in our storied and continuing fight for civil rights in the U.S., follows in full below...

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

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Court's decision on whether to hear a challenge to the Wisconsin GOP's 'unconstitutional' voting restriction is a moment of truth for democracy...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/6/2015 2:03pm PT  

As we find ourselves smack dab on the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama, there are some key decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, coming very soon, which may well determine whether millions of otherwise lawfully registered and disproportionately Democratic-leaning African-American and Hispanic voters will be prevented from voting in the 2016 elections.

The decision that emerges from the Supreme Court's March 20, 2015 Conference in the Wisconsin polling place photo ID case, Frank v. Walker, could well be dispositive in that regard. It also may be the last chance to avoid the legal chaos that plagued the 2014 elections, during which similar voting restrictions, in state-after-state, were implemented, struck down, restored, or, with respect to Wisconsin, blocked again. Where, last year, the Court's eleventh hour decisions preserved the right to vote in Wisconsin, that same Supreme Court, on the eve of the 2014 mid-term, eliminated the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of predominantly African-American and Hispanic voters in Texas and North Carolina. The failure of the Supreme Court to take up the issue now could produce an even darker cloud of doubt over the integrity and legitimacy of the 2016 Presidential Election.

The immediate issue now before the Court is not whether SCOTUS agrees with a U.S. District Court judge and half the judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal that WI's law (aka Act 23) is both unconstitutional and violative of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. As those judge found, Act 23, if implemented in the Badger State, could disenfranchise more than 300,000 lawfully registered Wisconsin voters.

Rather, the immediate issue at the March 20 Conference is whether the Supremes will grant an ACLU petition for a writ of certiorari (aka "cert petition") and schedule oral arguments on the Constitutionality of the Republican-enacted law. Or whether, as urged by the attorneys representing WI's Republican Governor Scott Walker, the Court will defer its decision until similar legal challenges to strict photo ID laws in other states, such as North Carolina and Texas, wind their way through the trial and appellate courts.

In other words, do they hear the Wisconsin case now, as urged by the ACLU and other voting rights advocates? Or do they wait to combine the matter with several other challenges to substantively identical voting restrictions implemented by Republicans in other states, as urged by one of the men who stands to benefit from delaying such a decision as long as possible?

That decision whether to hear the case now, rather than later, may well have a huge impact on who will serve as the next President of the United States...

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

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New Harvard, Univ. of Sydney survey finds elections in U.S. rank just below Mexico, just above Barbados...
By Brad Friedman on 2/25/2015 6:35am PT  

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

Electoral integrity has not improved in the U.S. over the past year, according to a new study. In fact, elections in Mexico now have more integrity than ours, the new survey, based on the observations of some 1,400 international election experts, finds.

Last year we reported: "A report [PDF] by researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney finds the U.S. ranks just 26th on a global index of election integrity. That finding places the U.S. in the category of nations with 'Moderate' election integrity, ranking the country one notch above Mexico and one notch below Micronesia, according to the findings tracking elections in 66 countries."

Well, bad news --- of a sort. This year's new Electoral Integrity Project report [PDF] is now out. It takes into account the 2014 mid-term elections in the U.S. and more elections in a number of additional countries. It appears the U.S. has fallen a few pegs from it's 26th place ranking in last year's report [emphasis in the original]...

[C]ontests in the United States scored the worst performance among any long-established democracy. Hence the 2012 Presidential elections was ranked 42nd worldwide, while the 2014 mid-term Congressional races was ranked 45th, similar to Colombia and Bulgaria. One reason is that experts expressed growing concern over US electoral laws and processes of voter registration, both areas of heated partisan debate.

To make matters worse, the survey fails to examine the effects of vote-casting and counting technology on the integrity of elections. But, while the new report highlights what appears to be a huge drop in U.S. election integrity since last year's study, with our most recent national elections now ranked just worse than Mexico's and slightly better than those in Barbados, it's not all as bad as the plummeting ranking would seem to suggest...

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

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