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...
Romm, who served as Chief Science Adviser for last year's Emmy-award winning Years of Living Dangerously series on Showtime, also breaks a bit of news on The BradCast by confirming that there will be a season two for the groundbreaking environmental documentary series. He promises that "it will be on a cable network that has a far greater reach" than Showtime, though he can't let us know which one yet.
But what caught my eyes and ears in this latest video (posted below) was something else entirely. And it's something which reflects far more poorly on Guthrie and the corporate media in general than it does on the junior Senator from Kentucky and now 2016 Republican Presidential candidate.
While it's true Paul appears to have trouble dealing respectfully with female interviewers and is now wildly reversing many of his previously strongly held foreign policy positions in hopes of wooing GOP voters, it's the mindset behind Guthrie's opening question which disturbs me far more. And it's one that we've seen before in the supposedly "mainstream" media...
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 RadioBradCast, 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.
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!...
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...
I am prepping for today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast, so don't have time to offer much detail at the moment. But, as so many have been dropping me email asking for my thoughts on yesterday's election in Israel --- and, specifically, the disparity between the reported final results and the earlier Exit Polling numbers --- I just wanted to say, I've been poking around to see what, if anything, I can make sense of.
I never like to go off half-cocked on issues like this, so, as usual, I won't have anything here unless it's hard and independently verifiable.
For the short term then, please see Josh Marshall's take on the Exit Poll/Final Results disparity here. (That's not an endorsement, just a link to one person's take. One person who, though he has some history of being not-skeptical-enough about polling numbers and election results, has been following this election and its polls very closely for some weeks. Moreover, he had at least some limited access to data from the Exit Polls in Israel as they were coming in yesterday. So his insight is useful.)
Also, for those asking about about Israel's voting system --- specifically, how they cast and count votes and whether they use an e-voting system --- my understanding is that all voters are still using the country's hand-counted paper ballot system, though some plans are in the works to move to an electronic system in the near future.
To my knowledge, however, yesterday's election used Israel's paper ballot system --- in which a paper card representing one of the parties on the ballot is selected by the voter, enclosed in an envelope, placed in a cardboard box, and then counted by hand at central headquarters after polls close --- rather than the e-voting system referenced in the news article above from December of 2014.
If anyone has information to the contrary, or additional details you feel I should look at, please feel free to note them in comments below or send to me direct via email here.
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During Tuesday night's Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, the show lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for showing up to showboat before Congress two weeks before his own election back home, and for misleading everybody on Iran.
But it was this "ad" --- as seen in the video below from 1:50 to 2:30 mark --- that we enjoyed the most. Particularly the last line...
Is your country doing a bad deal with the Middle East?
Is your President embarrassing you with decisions you simply disagree with?
Did your country elect...a black?
Then call the firm of Netanyahu & Partners and we'll immediately show up to any major event! Regardless of protocol!
Including, speeches to one party of Congress! Presidential shame! And, of course, Bat Mitzvahs.
If you hate your President for ideological reasons, we'll get you the justice Talk Radio says you deserve!
Please. NBC. Please put David Gregory and Meet the Press out of our misery. Pretty please? Would it help if I released a wholly unverified video claiming that Hamas was firing rockets towards Israel out of 30 Rock?
Last Thursday, as we noted at the time, Israel had reportedly bombed a U.N. shelter at a U.N. school compound, "designated as a haven for the displaced", according to AP. The attack on the shelter in northern Gaza was said to have killed at least 15 and injured scores more, many of them children. Israel had claimed, at the time, that they had sent a warning the night before so, presumably, it's all cool and totally the Red Cross' or Hamas' or the children's own fault for having been killed or injured in Israel's mortar attack. Had they only re-located to a safer place --- like, say, a U.N. shelter?! --- none of it would have happened.
Israel claimed at the time that the school compound in question had been used by Hamas as a base for firing rockets at Israel.
On Sunday, Israel released a grainy video purporting to show rockets being fired from the compound. Minutes after they had posted it to YouTube --- and just after his interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu --- David Gregory of NBC's Meet the Press confronted U.N. Relief & Works Agency spokesperson Chris Gunness about the video --- which the U.N. spokesman could not see from his satellite location in Tel Aviv.
"The Israeli government has released videotape within the past hour, it was posted on YouTube, NBC News hasn't independently verified," Gregory explained to Gunness. "The Israelis say --- and I realize that you cannot see this video, our audience can, and I'm going to describe it to you --- that purports to show rockets being fired from a UN school."
"Is this accurate?" Gregory asked. "Could this be happening without the UN's knowledge, that would only bolster the Prime Minister's point that, in fact, Hamas is using civilians, using the United Nations even in a kind of propaganda war?"...
A United Nations shelter in northern Gaza was shelled on Thursday, causing "multiple deaths and injuries," according to a spokesman for the U.N. refugee agency.
At least 15 people were killed and scores hurt when a school compound in Beit Hanoun, designated as a haven for the displaced, was bombarded by Israeli forces amid heavy fighting with Palestinian militants, a Gaza health official said.
Chris Gunness, a spokesman for the U.N. Refugee and Works Agency, or UNRWA, tweeted that the precise coordinates of the shelter had been relayed to Israeli forces.
Israel's Defense Forces issued a statement Thursday saying that they had ordered the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the shelter in Belt Hanoun late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.
"Evacuate" them to where exactly? A U.N. shelter or something?
The L.A. Times goes on to report that, "According to the IDF, Hamas militants prevented civilians from evacuating and continued firing rockets from the area around the shelter."
Who knows if that's true or not. Either way, of course, as "the Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpassed 720 in overnight and early-morning bombardment," it's clear that Israel's strategy of bombing children in U.N. shelters, but warning them first, will almost certainly result in years of peace and prosperity for the Israeli people. What could possibly go wrong?
CLEGG: Regardless of what side you are on in this ancient, bloody conflict, no one can feel indifferent to the spectacle of this overcrowded, desperate sliver of land, Gaza, where so many thousands of people are suffering.
I will always defend --- I've done it on this program before - Israel's right to respond and to defend itself in the face of violence that is designed to terrorize Israeli citizens. I have spoken out repeatedly about Israel's very legitimate demands that Hamas and others recognize Israel's right to exist, and to exist peacefully within its own borders and provide security to its own citizens.
I have to say, though, I really do think now the Israeli response is --- appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza which is just unacceptable. And I really would now call on the Israeli government to stop.
Interviewer: [crosstalk] Hamas would continue, though, Deputy Prime Minister...
CLEGG: Well, no, Israel of course retains the right to react, but I'm just saying you cannot see the humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, without concluding that --- and the very many numbers of deaths in Gaza --- without concluding that there is not much more going to be served in Israel's own interests.
And this is a point I keep wanting to make, because every time of course any politician speaks out, I guarantee I'll get lots of people kind of getting --- I quite understand to be quite passionate about this --- all I would say is, as someone who is a long-standing defender of Israel's right to defend itself, of Israel's right to defend its values and its own citizens, it is not in the long run in Israel's own interests to see this festering humanitarian crisis get ever worse in Gaza. Because all it does, of course, in the long run, is act as a kind of, almost as an incubation, if you will --- it incubates the next generation of violent extremists who want to do harm to Israel, so...
Interviewer: They might argue, though, that Hamas will just carry on shelling, Deputy Prime Minister.
CLEGG: Well, if Hamas does that then of course Israel reserves the right to respond. All I'm saying is today, we have the glimmer of hope that a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire has been entered into by both sides. And my plea today, to both sides, is please build on that. Because further deaths, more violence begetting more violence, is not in anybody's interests. And it's not going to help deliver the only way, the only way, in which Israelis will be able to live in security and peace in the long run. Which is a negotiated two-state peace settlement. It is the only way. And there's just no --- I know it's very easy as an outsider to pronounce on these things, but I really do think that the level of humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, the number of deaths, and the disproportionate --- the apparently, almost deliberate use of disproportionate response --- now needs to come to an end.
According to the UK's Evening Standard, before Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza on Friday: "More than 220 Palestinians have died in nine days of fighting and Hamas rockets have killed one Israeli."
For his part, UK Prime Minister Cameron reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that he "strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians," and he "reiterated the UK's staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel's right to defend itself from them."
However, Cameron also is said to have signed on to an EU statement [PDF] on Wednesday, which "condemns the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians," but adds that the European Council "deeply deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli military operations".
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The climate action legacy of Nelson Mandela; Historic water compact in the volatile Middle East; Air pollution linked to autism; Water pollution linked to miscarriages; PLUS: Canada is claiming the North Pole because... drill baby drill ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Arctic warming drives more extreme summer heat waves, droughts & deluges, study finds; Ask Ft. Worth why so many towns are banning fracking; Falling stars: mystery disease killing starfish; Mounting evidence against BPA; EPA chief visits China amid record air pollution; TransCanada oil begins flowing through southern Keystone XL; Wind farms allowed to kill eagles for 30 years; New greenhouse gas discovered, 7k times more potent than CO2; CA releases plan for massive water tunnel ... PLUS: Heart of gold: Neil Young helps bankroll First Nation’s tar sands battle ... and much, MUCH more! ...
It was a content packedBradCast this week on KPFK/Pacifica Radio! Listening will make you smarter and a generally better person in every regard.
First up: We were joined up by Francesco Femia of the Center for Climate and Security to discuss the climate change connection to the civil war in Syria and other regions where national security dangers loom, thanks to the "threat multiplier" that is global warming. Femia is the founding Director of D.C.-based think tank with an advisory board of retired senior military officers and national security experts. Fascinating conversation!
Next up: New documents disclosed by Edward Snowden and reported today by The Guardian reveal the NSA's agreement with Israel to share SigInt (signals intelligence) such as phone and email content without removing private metadata and content of U.S. persons first.
Finally (or close to it): The disaster that is SB 360, the CA law passed last week and headed to the Governor for his signature...or veto. SB 360, as The BRAD BLOG reported exclusively earlier this week, will abolish all federal testing of CA's electronic voting systems and even allow the Sec. of State to approve new e-voting systems for use "in a legally binding election" without ever being tested for state certification at all. It's a terrible bill, and we call on Governor Jerry Brown to veto it. You can (and should) too, right here...
Then Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, as usual, though not before updating us on her latest Twitter fight with some jackass at CNBC. Enjoy!
Her career, as a White House correspondent, entailed hard-hitting journalism and the aggressive questioning of every U.S. President from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Barack Obama. Her service as part of the White House press corps began in January 1961 and abruptly ended in June 2010 when the reporter with an Arab-American background dared touch what has become a third rail in American politics, charging that Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine", a comment which she said she came to "deeply regret". Thomas was a trail blazer for both women and White House journalists as "the first female officer of the National Press Club, the first female member and president of the White House Correspondents' Association, and the first female member of the Gridiron Club."
So, wait. It wasn't the Syrian regime, but rather the Syrian rebels who used sarin nerve gas recently? That's the story being reported tonight by Reuters, from actually named sources among U.N. investigators. But will anybody notice? Or, with Israeli airstrikes already under way, and the neo-cons already demanding another new war, is the news too little, too late...again?
The week before last, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, reading from a letter sent by the White House to Congress, announced that the Administration believes that the Syrian government recently used chemical weapons against its own people. If true, it would be a move which President Obama had previously described as a "red line" and a "game changer" in the Administration's policy on the two-year old civil war still raging in that country.
Hagel's statement was somewhat measured [emphasis added]: "Our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically, the chemical agent sarin."
A few days later, during a Presidential press conference, Obama himself was also measured, even back-tracking somewhat on the claim that it was "the Syrian regime" which used the chemical weapon, as Hagel had initially announced, setting off "Breaking News!" tweets around the globe.
"What we now have is evidence that chemical weapons have been used inside of Syria, but we don't know how they were used, when they were used, who used them. We don't have a chain of custody that establishes what exactly happened," the President said, seemingly responsibly. "And when I am making decisions about America’s national security and the potential for taking additional action in response to chemical weapon use, I've got to make sure I've got the facts."
He went on to decry "rushing to judgement without hard, effective evidence," that he planned to work with "neighboring countries to...establish a clear baseline of facts", and that he had "called on the United Nations to investigate."
But the war genie was already out of the bottle. At least for many in both the corporate media and the neo-con Right...
TPM has been posting some of the winners from this this year's World Press Photo of the Year contest. This remarkable photo, by Paul Hansen, was awarded the top prize from among more than 100,000 submitted by 5,666 photographers...
Hansen's Nov. 20, 2012 photo was taken in Gaza City, Palestinian Territories, and is described this way: "Two-year-old Suhaib Hijazi and his older brother Muhammad were killed when their house was destroyed by an Israeli missile strike. Their father, Fouad, was also killed and their mother was put into intensive care. Fouad's brothers carry his children to the mosque for the burial ceremony as his body is carried behind on a stretcher."
Unlike the rigged votes at last week's Republican National Convention, the rigged vote during today's Democratic National Convention didn't have its results pre-determined by TelePrompter. Instead, it was left to Los Angeles Mayor and Convention Chairman Antonio Villaraigosa to simply ignore the shouts of "NO!", in passing an amendment this afternoon to the party platform "by a two-thirds vote in the affirmative"...
It took three tries, as seen in the video above, before Villaraigosa got up the nerve to pretend that the "Ayes" had it by the two-thirds majority required to adopt the amendment, which included restoring the party's 2008 platform language that had included the word "God", without debate. Well, Republicans and Fox "News" will be happy now at least. Right? And, after all, responding to fake Republican scandals, with a pretend vote, about an invisible bearded man floating in the sky, is certainly among the most important things that should happen at a Democratic National Convention.