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Will Democrats continue to run scared, or will they embrace the unrelenting string of encouraging Affordable Care Act successes as we head into the 2014 mid-terms?...
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  w/ Brad & Desi
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Judge to TX Repubs: Turn Over the Docs!
Courts rules TX legislators must provide email related to passage of polling place Photo ID restrictions which may prove discriminatory intent of the GOP law...
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Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
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Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
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LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
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'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
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COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
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CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
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CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2013 5:19pm PT  

Earlier this week, Joe Conason, Editor-in-Chief of The National Memo, tweeted out word that he would be interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). He was seeking questions for the Senator who has been a member of the Select Intelligence Committee since 2001, and among the most outspoken in his attempts to inform the public of the massive, out-of-control U.S. surveillance state. Wyden offered a detailed speech on this topic earlier this week, as Ernie Canning reported here and as I discussed on this week's BradCast.)

[DISCLOSURE: I contribute articles, from time to time, at National Memo.]

I sent a couple of questions to Conason via Twitter (here and here), and I'm happy to see that, during the course of his interview with Wyden on the surveillance issues, he asked those questions, almost verbatim --- particularly the first one, the answer to which became the basis for National Memo's headline to the interview: "Wyden: How We Forced the NSA to Curtail Email Spying Programs".

The news central to Wyden's answer --- at least it was news to me, since I missed this item if it has otherwise been reported before this --- is that, according to the Senator, "the Obama administration a few weeks ago said that they had closed the [email surveillance] program down for what they called operational reasons."

That would be very good news, if so, and along with this week's debate in the U.S. House, yet another apparent positive outcome to the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Here are my two specific questions and Conason's use of them in the interview, along with the answers provided by Wyden...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/26/2013 4:14pm PT  

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

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U.S. Supreme Court gutting of Voting Rights Act paves way for radical new restrictions on democracy in Tar Heel State...
By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2013 11:49pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon.]

Late Thursday night, the North Carolina state legislature approved a radical voter suppression bill on a party line vote. The measure, easily the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era, now heads to Republican Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. Court challenges, many of them, will most assuredly follow.

I discussed the Tar Heel State Republicans' horrendous voter suppression law as it moved through the state legislature earlier this week in an article focused on the public pushback against both it, and other radical laws being hurriedly enacted in the state while the Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state house, as well as the Governorship there. It's the first time in 150 years that that has been the case, and the GOP is making all they can of it, voters be damned.

I also discussed the bill on this week's KPFK BradCast. But I want to highlight just how draconian this massive restriction on voting rights actually is in North Carolina, which, until the complete Republican takeover of the state government in 2012 (thanks to gerrymandering in 2010), had actually been a fairly progressive state by southeast standards, particularly in regard to voting laws.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent gutting of the important pre-clearance provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act --- the provision which had required states with histories of racial discrimination, like NC, to obtain federal approval before making any changes to voting laws --- NC and other states now "freed" from the yoke of not being able to discriminate, have been on a tear to pass discriminatory laws previously denied under the VRA.

NC has now done that in a way that no other state has yet even tried. They have, in essence, included in this bill every conceivable voter suppression tactic that has ever been dreamed up over the past decade by the Republican Party --- and then some.

UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen described the bill as "a nightmare for voting-rights advocates."

It includes draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program. "But," Hasen adds, "it’s also a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote, and which cannot plausibly be justified on antifraud grounds."

Just take a look at the list of some of the other provisions including in this "nightmare" of an anti-democratic --- as well as anti-Democratic --- voter suppression bill...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/25/2013 4:03pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another offshore drilling blowout in the Gulf; More tar sands oil spills in Alberta; Obama talks climate, clean energy and infrastructure; GOP just makes stuff up; Louisiana agency sues Big Oil over wetlands destruction; Young voters won't vote for climate change deniers; PLUS: Is the melting Arctic an "economic time bomb"? ... 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): Winter is the new summer in Australia; The new climate activists; Palo Alto switches 100% renewable energy; Frackfinder mapping tool needs your help; Obama admin caves to industry on fracking rules; Feds halt mining in designated solar zones; Buffet says coal in permanent decline; WA approves oil train export terminal; Reports on the death of Peak Oil are greatly exaggerated ... PLUS: NASA Video: This is your country in 2100 ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/25/2013 6:35am PT  

On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, we spent zero time on the royal baby or Anthony Weiner! You're welcome!

Instead, economic policy reporter/muckraker David Dayen joined me for a quick discussion about Obama's "big" economic speech at Knox College in IL on Wednesday afternoon; Then it was on to Sen. Ron Wyden's Tuesday warning about NSA "secret" surveillance laws (and we took a bunch of great listener phone calls along with it); We spent some time on the high-ranking Kentucky election official fraudsters convicted of 156 years but now ordered by an appellate court to receive a new trial and the massive voter suppression legislation moving its way through the North Carolina statehouse; and more!

It was a very lively show! Enjoy!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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First surveillance-related floor vote since Snowden disclosures opposed by White House, secretly lobbied against by NSA head, supported by majority of Democrats and some Republicans
UPDATED: Congressional opponents of unlimited domestic surveillance vow to fight on...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 7:22pm PT  

A bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill sponsored by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and former House Judiciary Chair John Conyers (D-MI), was defeated late today in the U.S. House of Representatives. The measure would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' telephone records. It failed by a narrow margin of 205 to 217.

The Amash-Conyers amendment represented the first Congressional challenge to the NSA's bulk collection of domestic phone records in the wake of recent disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The vote came just one day after a speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has served on the the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, in which he not only warned about the unlimited scope of the NSA's ever-expanding surveillance capabilities but the unnecessary development of a secret body of laws that, he argued, threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

Ironically, NSA Director General Keith Alexander, did his best to underscore Wyden's warnings. Where the Obama administration and other members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committee publicly lobbied against Amash-Conyers, Alexander scheduled "a last-minute, members-only briefing" to lobby against the measure behind closed doors.

Alexander, whom James Bamford, author of The Shadow Factor: The Ultra-Secret NSA from 9/11 to the Eavesdropping on America, has described as "the most powerful person that's ever existed in the American intelligence community," took pains to insure that his own efforts to privately lobby against this public bill be classified as "Top Secret," thereby precluding public consideration as to the reasons why publicly-elected officials might refuse to rein in unfettered access to the telephone records of millions of law-abiding Americans.

Rather than look at today's vote as a defeat, the ACLU's Michelle Richards told The Guardian's Spencer Ackerman that the vote's narrow margin reflects "a 'sea change' in how Congress views bulk surveillance," describing the bi-partisan debate on the House floor as "a great first step."

Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who originally broke a number of the stories related to Snowden's disclosures, tweeted during the floor debate: "Edward Snowden did what he did to make everyone aware of all this, and to prompt precisely this debate. That was his motive." He also observed this irony, after the House Democratic leadership rallied against the amendment and the measure ultimately went down to narrow defeat: "A majority of Dems supported the Amash/Conyers amendment to defund NSA bulk spying - majority of GOP joined [with the White House]."

* * *

UPDATE 7/25/13: According to AP today, Congressional "Opponents of the National Security Agency's collection of hundreds of millions of Americans' phone records insist they will press ahead with their challenge to the surveillance program after a narrow defeat in the House"...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/24/2013 11:10am PT  

"If we do not seize this unique moment in our constitutional history to reform our surveillance laws and practices, we are all going to live to regret it," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned during a lengthy but powerful speech before the Center for American Progress on Tuesday.

In his remarks, Wyden, who has served on the Senate Intelligence Committee since January 2001, left no room for anyone to doubt the liberating impact of the recent revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. For years, Wyden said, he had wanted to expose the extent to which the Executive Branch of our government and the leaders of the "intelligence community" had deceived the public about the NSA's domestic surveillance programs, but, due to Senate's rules in regard to classified material, he was "not even allowed to tap the truth out in Morse code."

That roadblock has been removed. "The disclosures by an NSA contractor lit the surveillance world on fire," Wyden told the assembled students, journalists and policy wonks yesterday. "Several provisions of secret law that were secret were no longer secret, and the American people were finally able to see some of the things we [he and Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO)] had been raising the alarm about for years."

That alarm centered not only on the unprecedented extent of the NSA's still-expanding, domestic surveillance capabilities but also, as he explained, on the unnecessary and dangerous, post-9/11 development of a secret system of laws that threatens to eradicate the very essence of democracy and accountability.

These provisions, he warned, allow "the Executive to secretly follow a secret interpretation of the law under the supervision of a secret, non-adversarial court and occasional secret Congressional hearings"...

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

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/23/2013 4:09pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly British heat wave; Deadly floods in India; US heat wave cuts power at nuclear plants; Radioactive water leaking from Fukushima; New EPA Administrator, new fights over fracking and emissions; PLUS: What could possibly go wrong?: Russia building floating nuclear power plants ... 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): Globally, June was 2nd hottest on record: NASA; US Algae Company Turns Sewage Into Biofuel; Alberta tar sands spills: no end in sight; Discounts mean electric car costs near zero; Melting glaciers around the world experiencing ‘Jokulhlaup’; Wildfires spread across warming Arctic boreal forest; Animal welfare activists sue to overturn 'Ag Gag' law... PLUS: 'Elysium': For the wealthy, climate-gated communities. For the rest of us, whatever is left ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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Massive weekly protests reclaiming the moral high ground and confounding the 'Tea Party' in the once-moderate Tar Heel State...
By Brad Friedman on 7/23/2013 1:39pm PT  

I've always wondered why non-Rightwing Christians have allowed Rightwingers to take "God" and "Jesus" as their own, particularly since progressive principles are far more in line with those said to be the teachings of Jesus.

The folks in North Carolina --- who are now under siege by Republican control of both congressional houses and the governorship for the first time in 150 years --- have been going about reclaiming the moral high ground with a series of massive (and growing larger) "Moral Monday" protests at the state house, so far resulting in about 900 arrests for civil disobedience as of this week's twelfth consecutive Monday protest.

The protests are being held by a wide coalition of groups in response to the radical Republican legislation --- much of it written out of state by the Koch-funded corporatist lobby, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) --- meant to see the state government shut down women's health clinics, cut education funding and, of particular note, suppress voters by truncating early voting, ending Sunday voting, banning NC's successful Election Day registration program, instituting tax penalties to parents whose children vote at their college residences, and by putting in place draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions. (See Ari Berman today at The Nation for more on the NC Republican's attempt to institute all of these "extreme voter suppression measures".)

At Salon, Kristin Rawls explains that the "Moral Monday" protests in NC, "that include support for LGBT and abortion rights", seem to be "confounding to the Tea Party", but not to the many groups of faith (as well as "atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths in attendance every week") who are finally taking back the moral high ground from the Rightwing hypocrites who have claimed it, but never earned it, for so much of the past decade.

It's an interesting read, and an interesting phenomenon that, Rawls notes, "is supported by a 150-organization coalition spearheaded by the NC-NAACP that includes everything from Occupy Raleigh to Planned Parenthood-NC to the NC Association of Educators."

Her point about why the voter suppression laws Republicans are now trying to pass are so important for the NC GOP radicals, is explained in this key passage...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/22/2013 1:11pm PT  

Oh, that's right. I forgot. When you call in to the Thom Hartmann Program on radio-- as I happened to last week, after Republican "Swiftboat Vets" disinformationist Jerome Corsi was on the show, claiming not to know that in his very own book, he claimed Obama's 2012 election was stolen by a secret army of illegal voters (or something) --- you end up "on TV" --- because Thom's radio show is also simulcast on FreeSpeechTV.

Next thing you know, Thom posts that video of your call-in on YouTube, and then our own not-frequent-enough guest blogger D.R. Tucker, who notices everything, happens to notice it, and then he tweets it.

Then, of course, you end up on The BRAD BLOG...

MORAL: Don't end up on The BRAD BLOG...don't call Thom Hartmann "radio" show...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 7/20/2013 11:26am PT  


HELEN THOMAS, 1920 - 2013

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."

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By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2013 2:56pm PT  

My fundraising pleas have not been very successful of late. Not sure what to do about that frankly, nor how we're gonna make it around here at this rate. This has been a problem for some time, actually, but perhaps that's more my problem than yours.

While I take some time to try and figure it out, I'll just mention today's my birthday, in case anyone feels like helping us out with a birthday gift, as has occasionally been the case this time of year. It is much needed. So thanks in advance to those who can help... - Brad

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By Brad Friedman on 7/19/2013 2:35pm PT  

Eight top election officials from Clay County, KY previously found guilty in a massive vote buying and selling conspiracy --- which prosecutors charged had been run over several decades and included the manipulation of electronic voting machines in 2006 --- have had their convictions overturned and a new trial ordered by a panel on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of appeals.

The eight co-conspirators --- which included the County Clerk, a Circuit Court Judge and the School Superintendent, among others --- had previously been sentenced to a total of more than 156 years in federal prison following their 2009 arrest and 2010 trial and conviction over fraud carried out in the 2002, 2004 and 2006 elections.

The BRAD BLOG had covered the arrest, trial, defendent flipping, conviction and sentencing of the Clay County, KY election fraudsters in some detail over the years as each step was happening.

The group had been found guilty of complex, endemic vote buying and selling schemes carried out over many elections over several years, often meant to game the Republican primary elections in the very rural, very poor, Republican area of the Bluegrass State in a location where winning the GOP primary was usually a guarantee for also winning the general election.

The schemes became more sophisticated over the years, according to prosecution evidence and cooperating witnesses, including in 2006 when poll workers participating in the conspiracy were said to have changed the votes cast by voters on touch-screen voting machines after they'd left the "booth" on Election Day. (The same 100% unverifiable touch-screen systems, the ES&S iVotronic, which allowed for the manipulation of votes in Clay County, are still in widespread use across the country today.)

Evidence presented during the trial also included testimony that one of the defendants, Circuit Court Judge R. Cletus Maricle, said to have been one of the scheme's main ringleaders, used his position as a judge to convince a woman, whose brother was a defendant before his court, to change her voter registration from Republican to Democratic so that she could serve as a "Democratic" poll-worker during elections there and take part in the scheme.

Over all, during the original trial, the prosecution had presented a remarkably wide-spread conspiracy taking place over many elections, with hundreds of thousands of dollars spent to buy votes and manipulate results, year after year, election after election, by highly-placed election official insiders --- precisely the type of folks who those concerned about the manipulation of elections, particularly via computer manipulation, frequently warn about. At the end, the officials placed on trial were all found guilty and sentenced to an average of about 20 years apiece.

So, why did the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturn the original convictions this week, and remand the case for a new trial?...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 7/18/2013 5:13pm PT  

I wish I had seen this on US TV. I wish I had heard about it from a US media outlet.

The grilling seen here, as given to woeful U.S. State Dept. spokesperson Jen Psaki during a daily press briefing earlier this week, came largely from AP's Matthew Lee and CNN's Elise Labott. They, and the others who were not identified in the RT (formerly "Russia Today") YouTube posting description, deserve credit for their persistence...

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With Brad Friedman & Desi Doyen...
By Desi Doyen on 7/18/2013 3:24pm PT  


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another major wildfire blazes in the West as heat wave bakes Maine to Minnesota; June 2013 2nd hottest ever recorded; Burning fossil fuels hampering our ability to burn fossil fuels; 'Climate Change Theatre' returns to U.S. Senate; Oil giants fight oil spill fines; Big banks caught manipulating energy markets; PLUS: Obama's EPA nominee Gina McCarthy finally approved in the U.S. Senate ... 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): Koch Brothers retaliate against journalists they don't like; Birth defects higher near cattle feedlots; World Bank, Ex-Im Bank cancel funding for coal projects; Pee Power: UK scientists power cell phone battery with urine; Steam, radioactive water leak at Fukushima power plans; Aging reactors pose increased risks; India's 2013 floods 4th deadliest disaster in world history... PLUS: What could possibly go wrong?: Russia builds floating nuclear reactors in Arctic ... and much, MUCH more! ...

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

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