Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large," Holder testified at the time.
"It has an inhibiting influence --- impact --- on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate," he continued. "So, the concern that you raise is actually one that I share."
That's what he said in March. But apparently, despite that, he now says, banks are not too big to jail. That's what Holder "very, very, very" much wants us now to believe, according to his testimony in Congress today...
A week or two ago, after seeing Attorney General Eric Holder, in Senate testimony, pretend that he was "concerned" about a lack of prosecution of big banks due to their being too large, I described his claims, in a bit of a rant here as "complete bullshit".
This exchange --- by Congressional committee proxy --- got a bit more buried than it deserved to be amidst a week of important (Rand Paul's drone filibuster) and not so important (Presidential/Congressional dinner dates!) news items last week.
You may have already seen both of these clips. But just in case you haven't, the remarks made during two different Congressional hearings last week illustrate the very heart of the most broken part of our broken government, so I wanted to be sure to at least flag these two short videos here.
The first was Attorney General Eric Holder's remarkable admission last week, when asked about why one the world's largest banks, such as HSBC --- which admitted to some $881 million dollars in drug cartel money laundering and working with regimes in a number of countries around the world in blatant violation of human rights sanctions against them --- have not been brought to trial by the Obama Dept. of Justice...
"The concern that you have raised is one that I, frankly, share," Holder responded to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-NE). "I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large."
"It has an inhibiting influence --- impact --- on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate," he continued. "So, the concern that you raise is actually one that I share."
With all due respect to AG Holder --- and he is due very, very little --- what he just said is, to the best of my knowledge, complete bullshit. While I'm not an expert in financial law, I am familiar with no clause in any of those laws which offers a "get out of jail free card" to institutions who have become so large that prosecuting them would have "a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy."
I know of no provisions in the criminal code which says that if your corporation has become large enough that facing criminal prosecution might make the world markets jittery, you don't have to face prosecution for those crimes. In fact, we still have anti-trust laws on the books to deal with exactly those situations --- cases in which corporations have become so powerful, have such a monopolistic effect on the market, that they may be broken up by the Dept. of Justice, or even taken over and then sold off piece meal to bring the company back into manageable size again.
The next day, in another U.S. Senate hearing, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), expressed a similar sentiment, in a must-see video clip, absolutely slamming U.S. Treasury regulators for their lack of willingness to take action against some of the most criminal corporations, such as HSBC.
"What does it take to get you to consider shutting down a bank for money laundering?!," she asked the regulators who couldn't respond as to the last time a bank had been prosecuted for this sort of thing. "How many billions of dollars before somebody says we're shutting you down?"...
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, thatNew York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Some justice in the Gulf: Record fines for BP in Gulf Oil Spill disaster; October 2012 the 2nd hottest on record; CA launches landmark cap-and-trade system; PLUS: The Superstorm Sandy Effect: Obama says it's time to tackle climate change --- sort of ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Refineries ran while 'offline,' yet gas prices rose; British government files charges against nuclear waste plant owners; Scientists show changing wind patterns are key driver of Antarctica's growing sea ice; EU climate head wants Obama to pull his weight in global warming talks... PLUS: Energy Independence: In Germany, everyone can be an energy producer ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[UPDATE 10/24/12: Virginia's Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will now be investigating after all, following a unanimous vote today of the State Board of Elections to refer the matter for a statewide criminal probe. Our concerns about Cuccinelli's conflicts of interest, as partially detailed below, still stand.]
Broader investigations are being sought, on a number of fronts, into the nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal including, finally, an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Over the weekend, a Democratic state legislator in Virginia asked the state's Republican Attorney General to open a statewide probe, though AG Ken Cuccinelli has said he has no plans to carry one out. Given the photographs recently posted of Cuccinelli on Twitter (see below), that's probably a good thing.
On Monday, however, a number of Democratic U.S. Congress members from Virginia sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a nationwide investigation. Also, the three ranking Democrats of the U.S. House Judiciary, Elections and Oversight committees are pressing Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for answers as to why his party hired a shady GOP operative with a long history of voter registration fraud allegations against him, and whether the RNC intends to truly cut ties with him, and his many companies working for Republicans across the country.
All of this comes on the heels of the GOP Voter Registration Scandal widening to Virginia last week, when 23-year old Colin Small was arrested and charged with 8 felonies and 5 misdemeanors after being seen allegedly dumping voter registration forms into a dumpster near a shopping mall in Harrisonburg.
Small, a Pennsylvania resident who claimed on his LinkedIn profile to be a "Grassroots Field Director" for the Republican National Committee, had been hired to do voter registration work by Strategic Allied Consulting, a company formed this summer at the request of the RNC and headed by Nathan Sproul, a shady GOP operative and paid political consultant for Mitt Romney's campaign.
The firm was supposedly fired by the RNC late last month after hundreds of apparently fraudulent registration forms collected by the company on behalf of the Republican Party of Florida were discovered by election officials in some twelve counties in the Sunshine State. The RNC had reportedly paid Sproul's firm at least $3 million since August to carry out voter registration efforts in five battleground states, including VA, despite many years of allegations that his companies had destroyed Democratic registration forms in a number of states.
The arrest of Small revealed that the supposed firing was a deception, as Sproul's employees and Republican voter registration machine were kept in place, but run by local GOP officials and paid by PinPoint Staffing, one of the employment agencies Sproul tells The BRAD BLOG he had used in a number of states...
I was delighted to hear the Congressman was nearly as furious about both as I was. He also confirmed that nobody has been able to verify the "100 or so" alleged "non-citizens" that Scott says have been found on the rolls (out of 182,000 identified in the initial purge list and out of 11.2 million voters), and also that there are still three FL counties --- Lee, Collier and Bay --- where the Supervisors of Elections may still be carrying out the faulty and disenfranchising systematic purge.
My rant explaining Scott's scam kicks off the show, before Deutch then joins us. Then, Desi Doyen joins us with the latest Green News Report and we take a couple of quick amusing calls.
Oh, and though I mentioned it at the top of the show, I forgot to reiterate it again at the end of the show, so I'll do so now: FL Gov. Rick Scott, FL Secretary of State Ken Detzner and/or their spokesmen were invited to appear on the show to offer their response to our Monday exposé. They declined to even respond to the invitation.
[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...
Even a glimpse at the statistics leads knowledgeable sources, like Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, to describe the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy."
"Over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion," Amy Goodman reported on Democracy Now! "Yet drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever."
And that's just in the U.S.
According to the United Nations' 2011 World Drug Report [PDF], "in 2009, between 149 and 272 million people...aged 15-64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year." The UN estimated that Cannabis was "consumed by between 125 and 203 million people worldwide in 2009," adding:
Drug traffickers and organized criminals are forming transnational networks, sourcing drugs on one continent, trafficking them across another, and marketing them in a third. In some countries and regions, the value of the illicit drug trade far exceeds the size of the legitimate economy.
But Nadelmann's description of the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy" is derived from the supposition that the 'War on Drugs', at least here in the U.S., was actually formulated with a desire to suppress or eliminate drug abuse.
In PART 1 of this series, we examined the question of whether the U.S. Government's effort to challenge legalization of marijuana in California and elsewhere was akin to shutting down the competition, given the CIA's long-documented history of profiting from the world-wide drug trade. In PART 2 we posited that an end to the 'War on Drugs' could deliver a devastating blow to the bottom line of American corporations who have come to depend upon the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and its huge pool of slave laborers --- most, non-violent drug offenders.
So now, we must examine the hypothesis that, if accurate, should rock us all to our core.
What if the horrific consequences of the worldwide drug trade, which, per the UN 2011 World Drug Report, includes an annual death toll of 200,000, are precisely what President Nixon and the covert branches of U.S. Empire had in mind when formulating a policy that would enhance the domination of the 1% over the 99%? Are we now living in a form of Aldus Huxley's Brave New World in which "Failure is Success" can be added to the three slogans from George Orwell's 1984 --- "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength" --- a world in which a vote against legalization is actually a vote in favor of illicit distribution by organized crime and their allies in the CIA?...
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…
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...
Late on Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed an objection in Washington D.C. federal court to new laws limiting voting and voter registration rights in the state of Florida. TPM's Ryan Reilly broke the news just before midnight last night.
The DoJ is said to be calling for a trial in the D.C. court, where the state of Florida had previously filed suit in order to avoid the federal "preclearance" process under the Voting Rights Process for its new restrictive election laws. The new laws institute harsh penalties for third-party voter registration organizations and individuals who fail to turn in new voter registration forms to elections officials within 48 hours of them being completed. The statute would also cut early voting hours nearly in half.
The new voter registration restrictions, passed by Republicans in the state following the 2010 election, has led groups like the non-partisan Florida League of Women Voters, which had been registering new voters in the state for some 70 years, to cancel their registration program citing stiff new penalties which, they say, put the organization and its registration workers at great legal risk. Both the Florida LWV and Rock the Vote, which focuses on voter registration for young voters, have previously filed their own lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the new voter registration laws in the state of Florida.
Over the past several months, a number of high-school teachers, incredibly enough, have been charged under the new law for registering their own students to vote. Last November, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow covered the topic in an interview with the Supervisor of Elections of Volusia County, FL, who, though she is a Republican, said she felt "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in one of those teachers to law enforcement officials.
On Thursday night, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report ran a somewhat more amusing, if equally disturbing, take on the issue, focusing on one of the teacher's snagged by Florida law enforcement for "voter registration fraud" under the draconian new restrictions...
Section 5 the Voting Rights Act (VRA), requires certain jurisdictions, including parts or all of 16 different states with a history of racial discrimination, to receive "preclearance" from the DoJ for all new election-related laws, or otherwise receive approval for the new laws from the federal district court in D.C. During the DoJ preclearance process for Florida's new laws, the agency requested more information about them from the state, which includes five difference "covered" counties. Instead of responding, Florida decided to avoid DoJ judgment all together by taking their case directly to the D.C. court instead.
According to TPM's Reilly, the DoJ stated in their filing in that same court last night...
I am old enough to remember not only the civil rights movement but that, amongst all the Southern Jim Crow states, Mississippi had absolutely the worst reputation. It was the state where, in 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American from Chicago was lynched, burned and so badly mutilated his own mother couldn't recognize his corpse --- all because he whistled at a white woman (we'll spare you the horrific photo, but it's available here if you'd like to see it); where, in 1963, the NAACP's Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home; where, in 1964, three civil rights workers attempting to register voters were lynched.
I have no doubt that the 83% of MS whites who, this past November, as we now learn in a new analysis, voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment that would mandate polling place photo ID restrictions as a prerequisite to voting --- as compared to more than 75% of non-whites who voted against polling place photo ID --- would vehemently deny their vote was racially motivated. They would do so even though African-Americans are more than three times more likely to lack photo IDs than whites and even though study-after-study has exposed the lie in the GOP's baseless claims that such laws are needed to prevent "voter fraud."
But I am also relatively certain that race played a role in the inability of so many of the children and grandchildren of formerly Jim Crow Mississippi to appreciate what it is that photo ID truly seeks to accomplish...
We thought it'd be a slow-ish night while guest hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show on Christmas Eve Eve tonight. Boy were we wrong! (We'll also be filling in next Thursday and Friday, by the way.) Hope you can tune in tonight! It'll be worth it!
We'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising, pre-Christmas globe from the studios of 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.)
LORI COMPAS, the leading organizer of WI's "Recall Fitzgerald" campaign, demanding an apology from state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald who inaccurately claimed that she and her fellow petitioners were committing fraud in their signature gathering efforts to have him recalled along with Gov. Scott Walker.
PLUS! Everything else that's on your minds, via your calls over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: It was a Christmas miracle! Nothing but good news (mostly) on the Malloy Show tonight! How often does that happen?! (Ever?) Plus some rockin' holiday music from our awesome engineer Tony Sorrentino! Lots of stuff to keep you feelin' good over the holiday weekend, all now posted below, commercial-free as our holiday gift to you! Enjoy!...