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.
Another story in Maddow's otherwise excellent report, however, is the one about the 86-year old WWII Vet in Ohio who was unable to vote on a normal ballot Tuesday, because his Veteran's ID didn't have his address on it. According to the The Plain Dealer's coverage:
“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Paul Carroll, 86, who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.
“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”
It's a horrible story, but on this one, Maddow appears to have been in slight error in her coverage...
"When you let university administrators or other employers rather than women and their doctors dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body." - Georgetown Univ. Law Student, Sandra Fluke
One unfortunate aspect of the firestorm surrounding Rush Limbaugh's profoundly uninformed, deceptive and misogynistic vitriol and calls for accountability for the Rightwing radio blowhard, is that it has completely overshadowed the substance of Fluke's testimony on the importance of access to prescription contraceptives to women's health.
The Limbaugh firestorm has also overshadowed the fact that the American Taliban (aka the elected Tea Party House Republicans) prevented Fluke from testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing, framed by the Republican majority as a hearing on "religious freedom", because, as the Washington Post described, "she was not a member of the clergy."
Indeed, while much is made of the fact that the first panel at the 2/16/12 House Oversight Committee examining an issue vital to women's health was all-male, few have taken note that it was also all-clergy. In opening the hearing, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced: "Today, the committee will hear testimony from leaders of different faiths."
Not only did the right-wing GOP House leaders fail to so much as recognize Fluke's right to be heard, but, according to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (see video embedded in above-linked Washington Post article), they also refused to permit House Democrats to use the House Recording Studio as part of an effort to try and prevent the public from seeing and hearing Fluke's testimony at all. Instead, Pelosi and the Democrats of the Democratic Steering Committee were forced to hold a separate, unofficial "forum", in order to hear Fluke's testimony.
The video of Fluke's opening statement, the testimony that Republicans sought to prevent from being heard at all, is now posted below.
But it is the larger, arguably more disturbing constitutional ramifications of the actions of House Republicans that we'd like to take a moment to highlight on, as they have been almost entirely overlooked in this unnecessary brouhaha...
A recall from his position as Wisconsin's governor could ultimately be the least of Gov. Scott Walker's worry, if a criminal complaint quietly moving forward in the Badger State court system continues on its current trajectory. At the moment, Walker seems to be at the bottom of a mountain where an avalanche is just beginning to roll.
A 51-page criminal complaint [PDF] (the "Rindfleisch complaint"), which formally charges Kelly M. Rindfleisch with four felony counts of misconduct in public office, contains factual allegations which implicate a number of individuals, listed as "interested parties," including WI's controversial Republican Governor, in a wide-reaching criminal conspiracy to misuse public employees and resources for partisan political gain.
The Rindfleish complaint was filed in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Jan. 26, 2012 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm. It's the product of an ongoing criminal investigation (the "John Doe" investigation) of the Milwaukee County Executive Office during Walker's tenure as County Executive there. The complaint specifically involves the period during which Tim Russell and then Rindfleish served as Walker's Deputy Chiefs of Staff.
The recent news in the Milwaukee County case coincides with a separate set of court rulings in the battle over the attempt by opponents of Walker to see him recalled via the ballot box. In that matter, an appellate court recently reversed Republican Waukesha Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis' decision to deny the Recall proponent's motion to intervene in a case brought by "Friends of Scott Walker" designed to obstruct the scheduling of Walker's Recall. The appellate ruling directed Davis to vacate his controversial decision which had shifted the statutory burden for challenging the validity of the Walker Recall petition signatures from Walker himself --- as had been the process for years --- to the state's Government Accountability Board.
While that appellate ruling may serve to help expedite Walker's potential removal from office via the ballot box, a recall could ultimate prove to be less of a concern to the embattled, right-wing governor than the criminal case steadily moving forward in Milwaukee.
The factual body of the Rindfleisch complaint suggests that prosecutors are painstakingly examining evidence that may well place Walker at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally utilize employees within the Milwaukee County Executive Office to engage in fundraising and campaign activities on behalf of the Friends of Scott Walker and others during office hours at the expense of Milwaukee taxpayers.
Each violation of the relevant WI criminal statutes at issue in the matter carries with it a potential imprisonment of up to 3.5 years. As that case moves forward apace, Walker could lose a great deal more than simply his hold on the governor's office. His very freedom may prove to be at stake as well...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 6 more weeks of winter? The Winter That Wasn't across the US; Extreme weather disasters leading to higher insurance rates; Wall St. Journal climate denier smackdown; Even Saudi Arabia believes in global warming(!); PLUS: House arrest for fracking filmmaker - House of Representatives, that is ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): House GOP throws kids under the bus; What liberal bias?: Heavy pro-Keystone XL pipeline coverage in corporate media; Glut of nat gas roils energy markets; Great Lakes Asian carp invasion: new canal for Chicago?; U.S. not prepared for oil spill off Cuba; TX: Fracking disclosure rule takes effect; Green Building sector to deliver trillions in savings by 2030 ... PLUS: Barrage of death threats intended to 'intimidate', says Texas climatologist ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Before we move on to the nightmare of democracy and secret, concealed "trust-me" vote-counting which will comprise the bulk of the "First-in-the-Nation" primary in New Hampshire, I'd like to offer a few final thoughts, for now, and for the record, on last Tuesday's "First-in-the-Nation" GOP Caucuses of Iowa. What happened there ought to remain firmly in all of our memories as we move into what is likely to be a nightmare of democracy and secret, concealed "trust-me" vote-counting across almost the entirety of the nation in this important Presidential Election year.
I had planned to post this article (or one like it) on Friday, when I was suddenly side-tracked by the report from Ron Paul supporter Edward True that he had noticed a mis-reported tally on the Iowa GOP's caucus results website. It was a small mis-report to be sure, but in a race that had previously been "called" for Mitt Romney by just 8 votes out of some 122,000 cast at 1,774 different caucus sites, the 20 vote error noticed by True and called to the attention of the media (and since confirmed by the Appanoose County GOP Chair) could prove to be decisive in the final certified total promised a week or so from now.
The discovery of the error --- a reporting error, apparently, as opposed to a counting error --- and the ability to quickly and independently verify the real tally of that particular precinct through a number of different, independent sources, is a tribute to the way the Republicans allowed their own voters to vote and those votes to be publicly counted.
That is largely the essence of Democracy's Gold Standard for elections and it is because of that process that there are so few questions about the overall results today.
It's important to make this point, loudly and clearly, before we get lost in what is to come. It's one that even MSNBC's Rachel Maddow --- whose political analysis, whether you agree with her personal perspective or not, is usually spot-on --- missed by a country mile on Friday night while reporting on this issue. She was broadcasting from New Hampshire on the True incident back in Iowa, and on one other quickly-cleared-up question that came up about the results late night on Tuesday, when she offered an assertion that seemed more cheap-shot at Republicans than supportable assertion. It was far beneath her usually excellent standards of fact-based analysis...
In the latest tracking poll released out of New Hampshire, the Suffolk University/7 NEWS poll [PDF], TX Governor Rick Perry receives 1% support from 500 likely voters in the Granite State. Former LA Governor and four-term U.S. Congressman Buddy Roemer also received 1%. In fact, Roemer received approval from a higher number of respondents (6) than Perry did (4). And yet, Perry was allowed to participate in both last night's GOP Presidential debate in NH as televised on ABC, as well as this morning's on NBC. Roemer was not allowed to participate in either of them.
In fact, out of some 16 GOP Presidential debates to date, Roemer has not been allowed to participate in a single one of them.
The exclusion of Roemer from every single Republican Presidential Debate provides but the latest example of how the corporate-owned media limits the ability of the American people to elect --- or even hear from --- individuals who challenge oligarchic corporate control of our ostensibly democratic institutions.
A candidate like Roemer, who has embraced Occupy Wall Street and spoken (and Tweeted) powerfully and openly and passionately and continuously against the corrupting influence of corporate money on our democratic institutions, poses a direct threat to the corporate media bottom line --- a corporate media which is looking forward to approximately $3 billion in political ad revenues in 2012, courtesy of Citizens United --- the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 decision which has flung the door wide open to the corrupting influence of unlimited anonymous corporate campaign expenditures.
Last week, the Rachel Maddow Show picked up on a story we'd first reported here, concerning the hypocrisy of Newt Gingrich's massive "voter fraud" in the state of Virginia, as compared to what the GOP and Fox "News" and even Gingrich himself had been decrying as massive "voter fraud" when it was carried out by ACORN. When Gingrich did the same thing --- but far worse --- he called it "just a mistake."
Last night, as her top story, Maddow picked up on our coverage of the indescribable hypocrisy of the Iowa GOP, which sets it's very own rules for the Iowa Caucuses tonight and, in doing so, chose to not require Photo ID restrictions on voters for either voting or registering to vote at the caucus on the same night.
As we originally noted last week, while the GOP has long claimed disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions are necessary to stop rampant "voter fraud" during elections in which Democrats will be participating, apparently they have no such concerns about their own elections. Even when they are allowed to set all of the rules for them. Or, more accurately, they don't wish to disenfranchise their very own voters, while they do hope to disenfranchise Democratic-leaning voters in normal elections. It's also worth highlighting that they have fought against allowing same day registration and voting in regular elections as well, while having no problem with it here in the Iowa GOP caucuses.
Maddow was as amused by it all as we were. Here's her coverage from last night. Also, read on for details on one point of information that her guest, Doug Heye, former RNC Communications Director and current Sr. Advisor to the Iowa GOP, seems to have gotten blatantly wrong during his interview with Maddow...at least according to our confirmed reporting...
Heye claims in the video above that while no Photo ID is required for voting at the IA caucuses, it will be required for folks who wish to first register and then vote at the caucus sites tonight. His assertions is a direct contradiction of both information posted by the Iowa GOP itself on its own caucus website, as well as info on the website of Iowa's Republican Sec. of State Matt Schultz. Moreover, it also contradicts the information that his office confirmed to me when I called them last week before reporting my original story...
The BRAD BLOG was the first to report that the former disgraced Speaker of the House turned Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich had admitted to committing massive "voter fraud" --- thousands of cases --- in his failed attempt to qualify for the Republican Presidential Primary ballot in his home state of Virginia.
Our report on Wednesday came just minutes after Gingrich's caught-on-video admission to a voter in Iowa that his campaign had "hired somebody who turned in false signatures."
"Oh, it was just a mistake," the one-time front-runner for the GOP nomination claimed. "We turned in 11,100 — we needed 10,000 — 1,500 of them were by one guy who frankly committed fraud."
To our knowledge, however, Gingrich has yet to divulge the identify of the "one guy" who "frankly committed fraud" to law enforcement officials.
We noted that by the same (completely disingenuous) standards that the GOP and its cable TV arm, Fox "News", has long applied, for years, to the now-defunct community organization ACORN (which never committed any actual "voter fraud" or even "voter registration fraud", though a few of its workers committed the later, as discovered by ACORN themselves who promptly turned them into authorities), Gingrich was, himself, the purveyor of "massive voter fraud".
And now it looks like Chris Hayes, filling in on MSNBC for Rachel Maddow last night, picked up --- "from the Department of Shameless Schadenfreude" --- on the same theme, pointing out that Gingrich himself had previously slammed ACORN in a 2009 op-ed, in which he falsely declared that "ACORN has a long history of engaging in voter fraud," due to the exact same thing Gingrich now refers to as little more than "just a mistake". (Ironically enough, in that piece, Gingrich used the fraudulent ACORN "Pimp" Hoax video tapes created by James O'Keefe, Hannah Giles and Andrew Breitbart as the basis for his entire op-ed lie.)
Here's the short video from MSNBC last night, and a few more words to follow detailing how what Gingrich Campaign did was far worse than anything ACORN was ever found to have done...
I don't have time today to thoroughly debunk all the reprehensible, anti-democratic, anti-American horseshit hurled by this FL State Rep. Dennis Baxley --- the original sponsor of Florida's new voter suppression laws, limiting early voting hours and imposing new big government regulations and huge fines against voter registration workers --- as seen in the following interview on Al Sharpton's Politics Nation show on MSNBC this week.
Fortunately, most readers of The BRAD BLOG will be able to smell the bullshit of the smirking, democracy-hating Baxley a mile away even without my point-by-point rebuttal. So I'll just run the video here for now without much comment, as it needs to be seen to be believed.
Near the front of the interview, Baxley admits that there's been no voter fraud problem in FL, and by the end he's charging (without a stitch of evidence, naturally) that the non-partisan League of Women Voters, who have been registering voters in the Sunshine State for some 72 years --- but who have now canceled their registration program for 2012 thanks to the onerous new GOP restrictions and fines on registration workers --- is actually a partisan Democratic organization! Who knew?
My loathing towards those who knowingly undermine American democracy is difficult to contain. So consider my restraint today an undeserved favor to you this afternoon, Mr. Baxley.
One thing I'm happy to see this year at least: MSNBC has been covering the GOP War on Voting --- at least the front-end war, the part in which Republicans are trying to keep millions of legal voters from being able to cast their legal vote at all --- very well this cycle, on many of their shows. Hopefully they'll soon begin covering concerns about the accuracy and transparency of the vote count itself, at least the vote counts of those who find themselves able to cast a vote in 2012, in any case.
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If you'd like more details on the above...Earlier on the same show, Deirdre Macnab, President of the non-partisan LWV Florida, explained to Sharpton why they've been forced to stop their registration program in Florida after 72 years. As they note on their web page where the interview is posted...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Meet the world's newest oil spill, now in Brazil and starring Chevron!; Supercommittee FAIL a big win for Big Oil; Confirmed again: Extreme weather is the New Normal; Bye-bye oysters; PLUS: Surprise! Fox News deceives its viewers on climate change, or the more you watch Fox, the less you know ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Not-so-fresh round of hacked climate science emails leaked online; TX towns will run out of water in 2 weeks; Hackers target US water utility; Future cancers from Fukushima plant may be hidden; Solyndra accounts for less than 2% of the DOE's loan program; Scientists slam BLM’s coal-friendly slant on climate change; Obama Says Climate Threat ‘Cannot Be Denied’... PLUS: The art of talking about climate science ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Well, this'll teach those lazy kids. Thankfully, the good men and women of law enforcement are here to help keep these dangerous mobs from getting out of hand!.
Get a job, hippie! Am I right, Fox "News"?!
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UPDATE 11/17/11: Wow. Olbermann's interview below with the woman seen above, the remarkable 84-year old Dorli Rainey --- who grew up in Nazi Germany(!) --- is an absolutely MUST SEE. Current TV describes the interview this way (though it doesn't adequately detail the full contents of her remarks)...
Eighty-four-year-old activist Dorli Rainey tells Keith about her experience getting pepper-sprayed by the police during an Occupy Seattle demonstration and the need to take action and spread the word of the Occupy movement. She cites the advice of the late Catholic nun and activist Jackie Hudson to “take one more step out of your comfort zone” as an inspiration, saying, “It would be so easy to say, ‘Well I’m going to retire, I’m going to sit around, watch television or eat bonbons,’ but somebody’s got to keep ’em awake and let ’em know what is really going on in this world.”
Meanwhile, the Republican War on Democracy continues apace.
Happily, Rachel Maddow brings us up to date on the latest in the GOP's out-and-out assault on voting and voting rights in states all over the country. The new laws passed by GOP-controlled legislatures in the wake of their 2010 electoral victories, are expected to have a wildly disproportionate disenfranchising affect on voters who tend to vote Democratic, and are likely to make voting much more difficult for some 5 million Americans, according to a new study from NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.
Apparently, Republicans must be convinced, for some reason, that they can't win elections in a fair fight. Wonder why.
Maddow's latest maddening update includes an interview with the Republican Supervisor of Elections in Volusia County, FL who was "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in a high school teacher to law enforcement for registering students to vote now that Florida has criminalized such activities. And, no, we're not exaggerating. That is the same new FL GOP law which has led the non-partisan League of Women Voters to cancel all voter registration in the state of Florida, after doing so for the past 72 years, because the potential penalties for doing so have simply become too onerous....
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning, with Brad Friedman
In the wake of a violent, night-time confrontation with Occupy Oakland demonstrators last week by the Oakland Police Department (OPD) and some 15 other law enforcement agencies, questions have arisen about the legality of the tactics used by the agency during mass arrests which led to serious injuries, including the fractured skull of a two-tour Iraq vet.
Oakland's Interim Police Chief Howard Jordan has maintained that the use of chemical agents and other so-called "less than lethal" weapons were required in order to defend law enforcement officials from demonstrators.
However, a forensic analysis by The BRAD BLOG of video taken immediately prior to and during last week's raid and confrontation with Occupy Oakland demonstrators, creates doubt about the legality of the OPD decision to declare the demonstration to be an "unlawful assembly," and, in particular, raises serious questions about the veracity of the Interim Oakland Police Chief's claim that police "had to deploy gas in order to stop the crowd and people from pelting us with bottles and rocks."
Moreover, evidence in several of the videos suggests that the multi-agency task force may have violated both CA Penal Code Section 407 and an OPD Training Bulletin [PDF] that had been adopted pursuant to a federal consent decree signed by the Oakland PD after another confrontation with protesters some years ago.
That federal consent decree was the product of litigation initiated after a brutal assault on a 2003 anti-war protest at the Port of Oakland, during which, according to civil rights attorney James B. Chanin, OPD not only deployed so-called "less than lethal firearms," but ran over demonstrators with motorcycles, and shot and arrested longshoreman who were not even a part of the demonstration.
Chanin reports that, during a deposition in the 2003 case, he "discovered" that the OPD had "infiltrated a subsequent demonstration, and even a planned route the demonstrators would take." Video posted at the end of this article shows plain-clothed, under-cover cops mingling with demonstrators at Occupy Oakland, revealing that OPD used similar infiltration techniques during recent demonstrations as well. Audio included in the video captures Interim Chief Jordan bragging about the ease of infiltration.
Yet another video, also posted below, suggests that two-tour Iraq vet Scott Olsen's brain injury was likely caused by a member of the San Francisco Sheriff's Emergency Service Unit (ESU), but, despite reports from activists on the Internet, the identity of that officer is still an open question...