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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 23, 2014
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
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  w/ Brad & Desi
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IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
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Of course they do...
By Brad Friedman on 8/20/2014 7:05am PT  

From Juliet Lapidos at NYTimes...

On Sunday the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist and television host, mentioned that voter turnout in the Ferguson, Mo., area was a mere 12 percent in the last election, and pledged to help boost that number with a registration drive. Twelve percent, he said, was "an insult to your children." He wasn't the first to think of channeling the anger over Mike Brown's death in this particular direction. Twitter users on Saturday noted voter registration tables in front of the makeshift memorial where the unarmed teenager was shot by a police officer.

Encouraging more participation in the democratic process in a community that feels alienated from political power - hence the demonstrations - seems like an obviously good idea; and one that's particularly compelling because it's so simple. Voting is an alternative to protesting in the streets.

And yet, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, denounced the plan.

Mr. Wills told the right-wing website Breitbart: "If that's not fanning the political flames, I don't know what is. I think it's not only disgusting but completely inappropriate."

On another right-wing site, Red State, Dan McLaughlin also argued that there was something indecent about the registration drive. Ferguson presents an opportunity for "Right and Left" to find "common ground," he wrote. But "the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election," he argued, "the harder you make it to keep the common ground from vanishing in the fog."

Who said anything about "register[ing] Democratic voters"?

"Voter registration for #Ferguson residents is at the QT & the crime scene. SIGN UP. Get on the juries, choose your leaders," tweeted attorney and activist @ReignOfApril. "Voter Registration is a brilliant way to honor #MichaelBrown's memory. It's a positive reaction to horrible situation," wrote @Koursey in reply.

While the city of Ferguson is two-thirds African-American, the vast majority of their police force and almost all local elected officials are not.

"Though whites make up just 29% of the city's residents," reports MSNBC's Zachary Roth, "five of Ferguson's six city council members are white, as is Mayor James Knowles. And six of the local school board's seven members are white."

"We warned people about these kinds of things," John Gaskin of the Missouri NAACP told Roth. "Who hires the police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council folks?"

As the Times' Lapidos goes on to note, "Mr. Sharpton did not say that the residents of Ferguson should vote for Democrats; he said they should vote, full stop." She adds: "Isn't it telling that both Mr. Wills and Mr. McLaughlin make no distinction between voter registration and Democratic registration?"

For the record, Ferguson's local elections are nonpartisan.

* * *

(Separately, kudos to the Times' Lapidos for describing those two websites for what they are, "right-wing", rather than usual "conservative". It must not have been easy to get that past the Times' editors, even though it's completely accurate. Or maybe the paper has changed their previously unhelpful style rules under their new Executive Editor Dean Baquet, along with this one. Either way, truth in reporting there is accurate, a great change of pace and far more helpful to the electorate.)

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/19/2014 3:32pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another one bites the dust: Oregon denies proposed coal export facility; It's official: July 2014 was the 4th hottest July on record; Fracking industry illegally using diesel fuel, threatening underground water supplies; PLUS: New report finds Republican officials DO accept climate change, they're just too cowardly to admit it publicly... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Toxic tale of Annie, Fannie, Mike in Toledo's water crisis; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; Solar boom driving global panel shortage; Breakthrough: spray-on PV solar cells; Food giant Kellogg pledges changes to battle climate change; Ford Motor Co. builds Michigan's largest solar array; Jet stream changes again linked to extreme weather around the world ... PLUS: Science FTW: ‘Cosmos’ wins four Emmys, ‘Years Of Living Dangerously’ wins Top Nonfiction Series ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/19/2014 11:36am PT  

The "streets" did not "flare up". The cops in Ferguson flared it up, perhaps, according to pretty much all of the live coverage we followed for hours last night on TV, on the web and, most crucially, on Twitter.

No clue what "problem" Fire Boy above thought he was trying to solve with his 9/11 Wars souvenir, but you can bet it hasn't been solved.

We recently wrote a "Tale of Two Protests" comparing the mostly peaceful protesters of Ferguson, MO following the police shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown, to the threatening armed protests by supporters of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy in Bunkerville, NV earlier this year.

Where the amped-up, Hollywoodized, militarization of the police in Ferguson has resulted, largely, in making the cops look like clowns and idiots for their over-aggressive tactics and firepower (see the front page of today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch above for just the latest example of that buffoonery, here's more), the amped-up, Hollywoodized, militarization of the so-called "Tea Party" "patriot" protesters in Bunkerville and their semi-automatic rifles trained on the heads of law enforcement officials, succeeded in little more than making those protesters look like clowns and idiots. It also offered an apparently compelling reason as to why law enforcement "needs" to arm up in response to such deadly, direct threats.

Meanwhile, over at his own blog today, Patrick Blanchfield offers a related observation of the shameful differences between the nation's treatment of a rancher who stole more than a million dollars from the federal government in Bunkerville, versus the kid in Ferguson who was shot at least six times by a police officer after having, allegedly, taking a handful of cigars from a convenience store. And its additionally embarrassing.

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By Brad Friedman on 8/18/2014 6:03pm PT  

But is there ever a good day for them? Back after I can figure out this mess...Which I hope will be soon!

Please chat amongst yourselves until then. Or go and read an updated version of my story on the Ferguson Protesters v. the Bundy Bunch over at Salon today here...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/17/2014 12:09pm PT  

Just like the headline says, from my interview on Friday with David Pakman...

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By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2014 6:51pm PT  

[An updated version of this article has now been published by Salon. Updates to the version posted here, following the weekend's developments in Ferguson, are posted at the end of the article.]

On Wednesday night, I had snarked on Twitter about the lack of so-called "Tea Party" "patriots" --- like those brave boys and girls who, earlier this year, pointed their big assault-rifles at federal officials to protect the "right" of a scofflaw rancher in Nevada to illegally graze his cattle for free on land that he did not own --- failing to show up to protect the actual rights and freedoms of so many being denied them by actual Big Government Tyranny in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.

Some Rightwingers, like libertarian Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com shot back at me (figuratively) on Twitter, arguing that "The Bundy patriots didn't take BS from the cops. They stood and fought," adding that the Ferguson protesters were facing the "same fight" and, had those protesters only brought guns with them, the police would have backed down. Or something.

"Would the cops be murdering blacks in #Ferguson if the people were armed? No," Raimondo told me, as if he just arrived in the U.S. from some other planet. "Armed resistance tends to discourage aggression," he insisted, between some silly ad hominem bluster in which he charged me with "worship[ing]" the government, and "lov[ing] the state that murders blacks" (also of being a "loser" with a "fat ass" or some such, but that's even easier to laugh at).

And then something changed on the streets of Ferguson Thursday night, which made Raimondo's comments seem even more transparently silly.

After the fully-militarized police were pulled away, ordered by the Missouri Governor to be replaced by grown-ups who marched with the protesters, calm and even jubilance returned to the previously tear gas-filled streets of Ferguson, MO. The contrast on Thursday night from the days prior couldn't have been more stark, according to virtually everyone on the ground there. It was the police, not the protesters, who had exacerbated roiling racial tensions, arrested reporters and needlessly filled the streets with panic and tear gas in the days prior, just as assuredly as it was a Ferguson cop who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen who was supposedly stopped for nothing more than alleged "Jay Walking".

It was peaceful citizens, with their empty hands in the air --- not pretend "patriots" aiming long guns at the buffoonish, intimidating, embarrassing, jungle-camouflaged-in-exurban-streets cops --- who may ultimately be seen as the ones who helped begin a national rollback of the absurd militarization, perhaps better described as "Hollywoodization," of our nation's law enforcement organizations.

It was not armed resistance, but peaceful resistance that may have brought about real, if tenuous, change in Ferguson, and maybe even the rest of the country...

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

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KS SoS Kris Kobach, GOP 'voter fraud' fraudster bags another...
By Brad Friedman on 8/15/2014 6:30am PT  

Way to go Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (R)! You caught another one!

Last Tuesday, Beth Hiller, a 97 year-old nursing home resident from Topeka, Kansas, boarded a shuttle along with several other residents of the nursing home's health care unit. It was a difficult process for many of the residents, who had limited mobility and depended on wheelchairs or walkers in order to move around. Yet Hiller and her fellow residents also boarded that shuttle intending to exercise one of their most important rights as citizens --- the shuttle was there to take them to a nearby polling place so that they could vote in a primary election.

When Hiller arrived at the polls, however, she was told that she could not exercise her right to vote after all. Hiller was turned away because she did not have a photo ID, and Kansas has a strict voter ID law that disenfranchises voters without identification...

See the full story from Ian Millhiser here. Hiller wasn't allowed to vote by provisional ballot, though it likely wouldn't have helped either her or the other elderly voters on the same bus who were turned away that day.

We've covered Kobach's long, embarassing, shameful, dishonest and continuing efforts to keep certain voters from being able to vote, by lying about "voter fraud" to Kansans, for some time.

As the Topeka Capital-Journal reported the story of what happened to Hiller and the other senior citizens who lost their voting rights in Kansas during the recent primary, "Kobach spearheaded the ID law and a proof-of-citizenship requirement to register, saying the measures are necessary to prevent voter impersonation and protect the state from 'alien' voters."

Of course, despite his pretend claims and his 2010 SoS campaign promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD", Kobach has been unable to find any of it. But, hey, at least he's keeping some of the oldest people in his state from being able to participate in their "representative democracy" at all! That's gotta count for something!

Jerk.

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/14/2014 2:54pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Broken climate: Historic storms and floods paralyze cities from Nebraska to Detroit to Long Island, while California breaks heat records - again; China dumping coal, breaking solar records; PLUS: President Jimmy Carter criticizes climate-denying Republicans as 'nutcases'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil companies fracking into drinking water sources; More critical U.S. energy facilities face rising flood risks; Electricity blackouts have doubled since 2003; Rules block solar panels in many states with abundant sunlight; Japan replaced half its nuclear power with energy efficiency... PLUS: 'Natural capital': putting a price on nature is a neoliberal road to ruin ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2014 9:54am PT  

I grew up in St. Louis County. This is not the town I grew up in...

I am embarrassed for St. Louis. For all of Missouri, in fact.

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GUEST: Peace activist, author David Swanson...
By Brad Friedman on 8/14/2014 6:02am PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I invited peace activist David Swanson to explain to me why it's wrong for the U.S. to take military action in Iraq amidst what the President describes as "genocide".

David is a friend, occassional guest blogger here, and author of War is a Lie (2007), When the World Outlawed War (2011) and War No More: The Case for Abolition (2013).

I pressed him and he offered a smart, persuasive, and well-reasoned case. Yet, I'm still not certain that I'm persuaded. Please give the short conversation a listen and let me know what you think.

We also took calls on the above, and covered a bunch of other stuff, including updates on the CA Supreme Court nixing the "corporate personhood" ballot initiative (Prop 49); the extraordinary North Carolina "voter suppression" law that a federal judge (W. Bush appointee) has allowed to move forward for now; and the remarkable story of federal judge Mark Fuller --- who helped railroad former AL Gov. Don Siegelman (D) into federal prison --- being arrested and charged for allegedly beating up his latest wife in an Atlanta hotel room over the weekend.

All of that, and a visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, as the News Summer from Hell continues...

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Fully-militarized police shut down town, try to shut down press coverage, while 'Tea Party' 'patriots' still nowhere to be found...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2014 10:34pm PT  

It's not enough that the police are killing unarmed African-Americans in Ferguson, Missouri. Now they're arresting journalists like Huffington Post's Ryan Reilly and Washington Post's Wesley Lowery for sitting in a McDonald's to recharge their cell phones while writing up their coverage of the protests and militarized police riots in response to the police killing of Michael Brown.

Read Reilly's account of his arrest here ("They essentially acted as a military force), and Lowery's here ("'My hands are behind my back,' I said. 'I’m not resisting. I’m not resisting.' At which point one officer said: 'You’re resisting. Stop resisting.'")

Here's a statement sent out tonight by HuffPo's Washington bureau chief Ryan Grim following the arrest, and subsequent release of Reilly and Lowery...

"We are relieved Ryan Reilly and Wesley Lowery are safe, but we are disturbed by their arrest and assault.

"Ryan was working on his laptop in a McDonald's near the protests in Ferguson, MO, when police barged in, armed with high-powered weapons, and began clearing the restaurant. Ryan photographed the intrusion, and police demanded his ID in response. Ryan, as is his right, declined to provide it. He proceeded to pack up his belongings, but was subsequently arrested for not packing up fast enough. Both Ryan and Wesley were assaulted.

"Compared to some others who have come into contact with the police department, they came out relatively unscathed, but that in no way excuses the false arrest or the militant aggression toward these journalists. Ryan, who has reported multiple times from Guantanamo Bay, said that the police resembled soldiers more than officers, and treated those inside the McDonald's as 'enemy combatants.' Police militarization has been among the most consequential and unnoticed developments of our time, and it is now beginning to affect press freedom."

With all due respect to Grim, and I have much, while "police militarization" has, indeed, been among the most consequential developments of our time, it has not gone "unnoticed" and it has been "affect[ing] press freedom" for quite some time. The BRAD BLOG burned quite a few late-night pixels in a whole bunch of stories back in 2011 during the hey-day of the Occupy Movement trying to make exactly that point loud and clear, and again in 2012 when journalists were being arrested for their coverage. (And, certainly, years earlier than that as well.)

At the time, we also noted that the pretend patriots of the "Tea Party" movement didn't seem to give a damn about any of it, which still rings true today, as we echoed tonight on Twitter while we catching up with the evening's ongoing madness in #Ferguson...

But I'm certain the "patriots" will be arriving anytime now to help restore liberty to the citizens of Ferguson, unless they're home polishing their big manly rifles so they can help "protect our American rights and freedoms"...

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Is it even fair? And could it have been even worse?...
By Brad Friedman on 8/13/2014 1:39pm PT  

A very bizarre situation is occurring right now in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Hawaii, where last Saturday's Election Day was disrupted by a hurricane. While voting was successfully carried out in most of the state's precincts, 2 out of 247 were unable to open for voting due to the storm.

The result is that the contentious U.S. Senate primary race between incumbent, recently appointed, Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and his challenger Colleen Hanabusa now stands with a little more than 1,600 votes between them out of about 225,000 cast, according to the "too close to call" reported results of those who voted on Saturday.

But the election is now being extended to allow those 2 precincts --- and only those two precincts --- to vote this Saturday.

The approximately 7,000 or so voters from those two precincts will determine the final results of the primary --- and probably the next U.S. Senator from Hawaii --- as Rachel Maddow explains below, while appropriately asking: "Is that fair? And if that isn't fair, what would be fair?...Is holding a new election for just those two precincts fair to either candidate? Does it advantage one or the other of them? Should we expect more voters to go vote now that they know just how important their votes are?"...

I don't pretend to have any answers to the question of "fairness" in this bizarre case, but I'd love to hear your thoughts. The current solution, as unfair as it seems to be, at least seems to be equally unfair to everybody, for whatever that may be worth.

One wonders, however, if Hawaii had a polling place Photo ID restriction, how many voters wouldn't be able to vote at all simply because all of their belongs were lost in the storm? That particular point, while a seemingly exceptional circumstance here, isn't actually all that exceptional. Remember when, for example, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy threatened the Presidential election in NJ, NY, CT, PA, VA and OH?

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By Brad Friedman on 8/12/2014 5:42pm PT  

[Hat-tip @GGreenwald...]

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 8/12/2014 3:34pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: If it seems like there's more extreme weather --- you're right; What sanctions? ExxonMobil begins drilling with Russia in the Arctic; Methane rising in the melting Arctic; PLUS: Oops: Looks like the U.S. State Dept. vastly underestimated emissions from the Keystone XL pipeline ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): China Will Install More Solar This Year Than The U.S. Ever Has; Bamboo is the new 'green' steel; California Drought Transforms Global Food Market; Uranium mining poisons Navajo drinking water; Colgate Total Ingredient Triclosan Linked to Hormones, Cancer; Right-Wing Press' New Climate Change Lie; Media Still Disproportionately Including Views of Climate Change Skeptics; The World's Biggest PR Firm Is In Denial About Its Climate Change Denial... PLUS: When Did Republicans Start Hating the Environment? Roughly 1991... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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UPDATED with response, petition from 'Yes on Prop 49' proponents...
By Brad Friedman on 8/11/2014 9:49pm PT  

The "Overturn Citizens United Act", or Prop 49, will not appear on California's ballot this November after all.

As we reported in some detail last month, the unusual "advisory measure" was placed on the ballot very recently by the California state legislature. It called for Congress to "propose an amendment...to the United States Constitution" to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and its progeny, and "to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only."

But now, the state Supreme Court in California, dominated by 5 Republican appointees and 1 Democratic appointee, has intervened to remove the measure from this year's general election ballot, as the Sacramento Bee reports tonight...

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

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