After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The deepest well ever dug; Cyber-attacks on the US natgas pipeline industry; Romney makes big promises to Big Oil; RFK Jr. fights Big Coal in Portland; Schizo Fox 'News' now says lower gas prices are a bad thing; PLUS: It's official: the last 12 months were the hottest on record in the US .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil spill in Antarctica; VT poised to be first state to outlaw fracking; CBO: Boosting Oil Production Won’t Protect From Gasoline Price Shocks; Clean-Energy Requirements Targeted by ALEC, Norquist; Innovation: Inertial Seawave Energy Generator; Asian carp electric barrier loses power; Makers of flame retardants manipulate research findings; Anti-Wind Group Colludes on Fake Grassroots 'Subversion' Campaign ... PLUS: Flipping the Switch: First Solar Plant on Public Lands Now Delivering Power... and much, MUCH more! ...
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
You're unlikely to hear a peep about this on Fox "News" (unless they happen to have me on), but the California Secretary of State's Election Fraud Division is now reportedly investigating a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party said to have submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms.
According to a report today from Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 [see video posted below], a private, for-profit firm calling itself Momentum Political Services, hired by the local Republican Party "to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities" has turned in more than 3,100 invalid voter registration cards during their recent drive.
[UPDATE 5/7/12: According to Sacramento Bee's 5/5/12 report, the number of bad registration forms is much higher than 3,100. The paper reports that since September, out of some 31,000 cards turned in by Momentum Political Services, "at least one-fourth of them have been thrown out because of inaccuracies," according to the Sacramento Registrar of Voters. That puts the questionable registrations from the GOP's company at more than 7,500.]
Voter registration forms have allegedly been turned in with fake addresses, voter names that don't exist, duplicate Social Security numbers, and party affiliations that seem to have been changed "by someone" to Republican. The head of the firm has admitted she has hired workers with criminal backgrounds, as found via Craigslist.
The charges of serial voter registration fraud sound very similar to those leveled in 2008 against another outfit hired by the California State GOP to register Republican voters before that year's Presidential election. In that case, the head of the firm was arrested, and eventually pleaded guilty to voter registration charges himself.
In 2006, another firm hired by the CA Republican Party turned in thousands of registration forms with fake names and an error rate as high as 60 percent. And in 2004, a firm hired by the GOP was investigated in a number of states for shredding Democratic voter registrations and tossing them into dumpsters. Despite those allegations, the same folks were later hired by the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 to run voter registration drives before the Presidential election.
Of course, you probably haven't heard of any of those stories, even while you've heard plenty about a handful of ACORN workers --- no actual ACORN officials, mind you, and they were never hired by the Democratic Party, and never led to a fraudulent vote --- turning in fraudulent registration forms in past years.
But nobody who ever worked for the non-profit ACORN has ever been accused of what these Republican firms continue to do on behalf of the Republican officials who hire them, paying them per Republican registration, year after year, as is once again apparent in the allegations surfacing today against Momentum Political Services...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's WAR!; New rules on fracking to protect drinking water --- same old objections from Republicans; The state's rights versus federal regulations canard; UK: Climate protesters clash with police; Smoke-bomb dropped on French nuke plant; PLUS: Connecting the Dots: Blocking Warren Buffet's coal trains on 5/5... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Environmental group sues to halt killing practices of federal wildlife agency; Court Urged to Order Decision on Nuclear Waste Site; Dept. Of Energy Investigating Harvesting Energy From Methane Hydrates; Pollution from Pavement Sealers?; Rising Coal Exports Have Montana Rail Communities Braced for Worst; AEI& Brookings Must-Read: 'The Republicans Are The Problem'... PLUS: Plant Study Flags Dangers Of Warming World ... and much, MUCH more! ...
92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.
The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."
There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.
PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.
Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.
For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Poll shows Americans want clean energy, and are willing to pay for it; Mitt Romney, unclear on the concept of overfishing; Meet the nation's newest oil spill, now in Louisiana; Study criticizes federal pipeline oversight; Big Oil rolls in taxpayer dough, as America's wind energy industry begs for scraps; PLUS: Fox 'News' and hot air: No, wind farms do not cause global warming .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EPA offiical resigns over controversial remarks; ALEC plans $$$ campaign to take down state renewable energy targets; Fracking sand threatens drilling workers; Coal's future in US is rocky at best; Nuclear industry, regulators 'foot-dragging' on basic safety measures; IBM's 500-mile range electric car battery; Ocean plastic pollution: far worse than reported; Global water cycle changing faster than predicted; 'The Killing Agency': Wildlife agency kills indiscriminately & illegally... PLUS: AEI Scholar: “Let’s just say it: The Republicans are the problem”... and much, MUCH more! ...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives from tonight's show below!]
Mike's got the night off, so we're back in tonight guest-hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on your public airwaves, on the Internet (streaming links below) and on SiriusXM ch. 127!
As usual, we'll be BradCasting, LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."
"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.
With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.
The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Just a flesh wound? UK smacked by extreme weather whiplash; Sec. Chu talks sexy, sexy energy efficiency; 'Agent Orange Corn'? Dow Chemical says 'Yes, please!'; PLUS: Slow-jamming the news? How about slow-walking climate change? .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): ExxonMobil profits: $109M a day on America's pocketbook; Wind Tax Credit Stalls in Congress despite bipartisan support; U.S. mad cow find: lucky break or triumph of science?; Cheap, stable, printable liquid solar cells developed; Warm Spring May Mean Drought, Wildfires in West; Warm Ocean Currents Eroding Antarctic Ice Shelves; Coal's Future Is Rocky at Best; On Chernobyl's anniversary, Ukraine warns against nuclear power... PLUS: Donald Trump on 'Monstrous Wind' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast I interviewed Joyce Block (seen at right), the 90-year old Doylestown, PA resident who has voted legally for 70 years, without fail and without a problem until this year, when the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law threatens to disenfranchise her and so many others like her.
Her story is all the more remarkable considering she was born just two years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote --- at least until now. She is a pistol and more than ready for the fight! We were also joined by her grandson-in-law Det Ansinn, the Doylestown Borough Council president who has been working like hell to try and see that Block will be able to vote this year.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Block's remarkable story and the difficulty she's had in receiving one of the so-called "free" IDs, under the new restriction, that would allow her to vote this year, despite all of the paper work she presented to prove that she was who she said she was after a 30 minute-trip to the DMV (thanks to Ansinn!) Today, we got an update on her story, and it includes a bit of good news...sort of.
We were also joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, and some good callers, including one who wanted to challenge me on gun rights. So I obliged him...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf, 2 years on: Bizarre mutations in the Gulf ecosystem; First criminal charges finally filed; BP's billion-dollar settlement on hold; PLUS: Never mind Earth Day --- Mitt Romney wants to double down on coal.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Blight discovered on citrus tree in CA; CO2 Not all That Good for Plants; Senate Panel Unveils 2012 Farm Bill Overhaul; Fees and Anger Rise in CA Water War; Ban on Some Seafood Has Fishermen Fuming; EPA Battles Examined Through 'Documerica' Photos; 'Garbage' Chemical Threatens CA Valley Water; Mexico Reins in Oil Monopoly; Insurance Comapnies Face Increased Risks from Warming... PLUS: Top Donor Is Confident Romney Secretly Supports 'Climate-Change Controls' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[NOTE: I interviewed 90-year old Joyce Block from Pennsylvania, the woman discussed in the story below, today (Wed, 4/25) on my KPFK/Pacific Radio show, and she offered a bit of a "good news" update on her story. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
And now it's the voters in Pennsylvania who are beginning to lose their right to vote under new Republican voter suppression laws. The latest story of a citizen having their rights robbed by Big Government GOP disenfranchisement laws is that of Joyce Block, a 90-year old grandmother from Doylestown who has voted for 70 years without a problem --- until now.
We've been reporting for some time on legal voters who are being disenfranchised by Republican-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country. For example, in Indiana there were the 80- and 90-year old nuns who were turned away from the polls in 2008 after that state's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction had taken away the rights they'd freely and legally exercised for decades at their own monastery. (They were turned away that year by the poll worker, their fellow sister, who had been forced to follow the new voter suppression law.)
Of course, that same law in the Hoosier State didn't prevent their top election official, charged with overseeing the law, Republican Sec. of State Charlie White, from committing three voter fraud felonies himself. He was found guilty in February of this year and forced to leave office. But these laws aren't actually meant to stop voter fraud. Even proponents of such laws are unable to cite any cases of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possible be deterred by such laws --- which might have been prevented in their state by polling place Photo ID restrictions. These laws are meant solely to disenfranchise perfectly legal, usually Democratic-leaning voters who disproportionately lack the type of ID now needed to vote in states where these laws have been approved.
We told you about 87-year old Ruthelle Frank, an elected town official in Wisconsin who would have to come up with more than $200 for her "free" ID to vote under the GOP's new law there. And then there was 77-year old Bettye Jones for whom it would be strictly impossible to vote at all under WI's law which was, thankfully, recently found to be in violation of the state Constitution by two separate judges in two separate lawsuits in the Badger State.
Down in Tennessee, we told you about 96-year old Dorothy Cooper who was denied a "free" Photo ID, as now needed to vote there, even though she had her birth certificate to prove she was who she said she was. And we also highlighted 93-year old Thelma Mitchell, who used to clean the Governor's office in the statehouse, but was told that her ID was no longer good enough to cast a vote in the Volunteer State.
We could, of course, go on and on and on with such examples, even as we could detail the many high-profile Republicans who have committed voter fraud --- folks like Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter and many others, to name just a few --- who would not have been prevented from committing their crimes even under Photo ID restrictions, because that's not how voter fraud generally occurs and not the sort of voters these laws are meant to disenfranchise. It is, however, a swell way to keep hundreds of thousands, even millions, of perfectly legal --- largely elderly, minority and student (read: Democratic leaning) --- voters from being able to cast their legal vote.
And now, in Pennsylvania, the most recent state where Republicans have approved a polling place Photo ID restriction law --- and where the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett blatantly lied about it to the media --- we see the 90-year old grandmother-in-law of a local Borough Council president who looks as if she'll be forced to break her perfect 70-year voting record this November, as she too is unable to receive the supposedly "free" ID soon required to vote in the Keystone State...
This is the second of our three-part series advancing the hypothesis that one must turn to economics to make sense of the so-called 'War on Drugs' and the U.S. government's seemingly irrational obsession with shutting down something as innocuous as medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
PART 1 examined both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. It explored the extent to which the so-called 'War on Drugs' has been used as cover for the CIA's covert import of narcotics, both into the U.S. and other nations, in order to fund the mischief the Agency engages in on behalf of U.S. Empire. It postulated that the government’s opposition to controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse is the product of an illicit supplier shutting down the competition.
Here, we will examine the profitability of the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and the extent to which the world's largest prison population provides a ready source of slave labor for some of the world's largest corporations…
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama calls for crackdown on Wall St. oil speculators --- cue rightwing freakout in 3..2..1..; Taxpayers save lives in latest tornado outbreaks; New rules for frackers; PLUS: Good news for millions who depend on water from the Himalayas.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Surprise! Extra CO2 not good for plants after all; Solar energy breakthrough mimics photosynthesis to generate electricity; Los Angeles hailed as 'model of sustainaiblity'?; Grow your own biofuel from a cement kiln; No damage to bird populations from wind farms; Restoring Louisiana coast a national priority; Military conflict over Arctic resources?; Internal docs show dangers from new TX radioactive waste dump ... PLUS: Titanic director James Cameron: "We can see that iceberg ahead of us right now, but we can't turn" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Yet, the DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) make it a priority to target California medical marijuana dispensaries and to raid Oaksterdam University, a school founded by Richard Lee, a legalization activist who offers training in the cultivation and use of medical marijuana. It does so even though, in 1996, CA voters, by a wide margin, passed an initiative that "allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation...to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use." The raids were also made against the backdrop of polls showing that a majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana.
In this three-part series, we will advance the hypothesis that this seemingly irrational obsession with busting medicinal marijuana dispensaries and fending off legalization of even the most innocuous of drugs, Cannabis, can only be understood in the context of U.S. Empire and the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex.
In this first part of the series, we examine both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. We touch upon the extent to which the so-called 'War on Drugs' has been used as cover for the CIA's covert import of narcotics, both into the U.S. and other nations, in order to fund the mischief the Agency engages in on behalf of U.S. Empire. That operation, evidence strongly suggests, continues to this day.
At the core of that hypothesis is the question as to whether an end to the phony 'War on Drugs' and its replacement by controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse would cut off a key, illicit source of covert CIA funding...