January 28 - The New Attorney General Faces Hostile Republican Senators; Jordan Agrees to Negotiate with I.S. For It's Captured Pilot; The Measles Outbreak and the Anti-Vaxxers

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We begin with the Senate confirmation hearings for the new Attorney General Loretta Lynch who was grilled by Republicans implacably hostile to President Obama and the current Attorney General Eric Holder. Nancy Zirkin, the Executive Vive President and Director of Policy at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights who was at today’s hearing joins us to discuss how the United States Attorney for Brooklyn handled the difficult position she is in as the nominee and a surrogated for the Administration that is so hated by many of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee questioning her, in particular Senators Ted Cruz, Mike Lee and Jeff Sessions along with Senator Vitter who has already threatened to block her.  

 

curt ryan

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Then we look into the hostage situation in Jordan where the government has agreed to negotiate with the so-called Islamic State who are holding a captured Jordanian fighter pilot along with a Japanese journalist they are threatening to behead unless a $200 million ransom is paid and an al Qaeda suicide bomber is freed and swapped. Curt Ryan, a professor of Political Science at Appalachian State University and a Fulbright Scholar to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, joins us to discuss the overwhelming support in Jordan to make a deal to release the pilot which gives the Islamic States leverage to play the Japanese off against the Jordanians.

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Then finally we speak with Michael Hiltzik a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist of the Los Angeles Times whose latest article is “The Disneyland Measles Crisis: How to Make Negligent Parents Pay”. We discuss the measles outbreak across the nation and in California that began at Disneyland where 50 cases are linked to exposure in the happiest place on earth, and the paradox that parents who refuse to vaccinate their children based on anti-science hysteria are often from affluent and educated communities in Marin and Orange counties. 

michael hiltzik

 

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January 27 - Team America Shows Up in Saudi Arabia; Argentina's Dark and Dirty Spy Saga; The Koch Brothers' Billion Dollar Bid to Buy the 2016 Election

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We begin with President Obama’s meeting with the new Saudi King Salman along with an huge delegation of high level American officials including the current secretary of state and two former secretaries of state, the current national security adviser and three former national security advisers, as well as Obama’s former 2008 presidential rival John McCain and the current head of the CIA. David Hearst, the Editor of Middle East Eye, who was formerly the chief foreign leader writer of The Guardian, joins us to discuss the apparent healing of the rift between the two countries and a possible payback for Saudi Arabia for lowering the price of oil to hurt Iran, Russia and Venezuela that some analysts suggest is being done at the behest of the U.S.

 

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Then we examine the dark and murky political scandal erupting in Argentina with the president dissolving the powerful intelligence agency she is accusing of involvement in the murder of the chief prosecutor who had charged her with covering up Iranian involvement in the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing in exchange for Iranian oil. Haley Cohen, joins us from Buenos Aires, Argentina where she is a correspondent for The Economist covering Argentina and Uruguay, to discuss the shady history of Argentina’s Intelligence Secretariat and its recently-fired former J. Edgar Hoover-like head who wiretapped politicians and journalists, and the sudden flight from the country of the journalist who broke the story of the prosecutor’s death, who claims he feared for his life.

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Then finally we assess the likely impact of the $889 million the Koch Brothers network is poised to spend in the 2016 elections, which is close to what Obama and Romney each spent in the last presidential election and well over what John Kerry and George W. Bush combined spent in the 2004 campaigns. Kenneth Vogel, the Chief Investigative Reporter for Politico who tracks the confluence of money, politics and influence, joins us to discuss the latest Koch Brothers conclave of millionaires and billionaires at which Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz praised the patriotism of the job creators saying the Kochs have “endured vilification” from the Democrats “with equanimity and grace”.     

kenneth vogel

 

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January 26 - Greece's New Prime Minister and Finance Minister; The Obama/ Modi Summit and the U.S./ India/ China Strategic Triangle; The Tea Party Republican Presidential Hopeful’s Iowa Freedom Summit

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We begin with the new government in Greece led by Alexis Tsipras the head of the left wing Syriza Party, whose first act was to form a governing coalition with a right wing anti-immigrant party Independent Greeks. Economist James Galbraith, a Professor of Public Policy at the University of Texas at Austin, joins us. He wrote an op-ed back in June at The New York Times with Greece’s now-new Finance Minister Yanis Varoukasis, “Only Syriza Can Save Greece”, and we discuss how Syriza, which is an acronym for “Radical Coalition of the Left”, can meet the expectations of its voters and get out from under the debt burden and the austerity imposed by Greece’s creditors which the new finance minister described as “fiscal water-boarding policies that have turned Greece into a debt colony”.

james galbraith

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Then we examine the substance behind the atmospherics of President Obama’s visit to India where he watched the colorful Republic Day parade of mostly Soviet and Russian military hardware with India’s Prime Minister Modi, the first American head of state to do so in 65 previous parades. Ashley Tellis, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who served on the National Security Council staff as a special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia, joins us to discuss the revival of the nuclear power deal between the two countries and efforts to persuade India to deal with global warming.

ashley tellis

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Then finally we look into this last weekend’s Iowa Freedom Summit of Tea Party Republican presidential candidates, and get a report from Robert Leonard who covered the 2008 and 2012 Iowa caucuses for KNIA/KRLS Radio in Knoxville and Pella, Iowa. He has an article at Salon.com “The world has gone to hell: A weekend at the Iowa Freedom Summit” and we discuss the performances of the crowded bench of Republican presidential hopefuls who showed up in this important primary state, and the notable absence of Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio, bobby Jindal and Rand Paul.

robert leonard

 

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January 25 - An Analysis of the Saudi Succession; What's Behind the Saudi Oil Strategy?; A New Left Party Takes Over in Greece

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We begin with the succession in Saudi Arabia following the death of King Abdullah and the pilgrimage of world leaders, including President Obama who is cutting short his visit to India, to the oil-rich family kingdom to pay their respects to the new king, Salman, at a time when Saudi foreign policy seems to be collapsing all around the kingdom. Lina Khatib, the Director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut joins us to discuss the likely tenure of the new king who is reported to have Alzheimer’s and the role of the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef who recently took over the Syria portfolio from the former defense minister Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

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Then we examine the kingdom and its future further with Robert Lacy, a British historian and bestselling author whose latest book is “Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia”. He joins us to discuss the validity of the constant refrain in the media that the late King Abdullah was a reformer and that his successor will carry on his policies. We will also look into the Saudi strategy of flooding the global market to lower the price of oil which is hurting the “frackers” in the U.S., not to mention Iran, Russia and Venezuela.

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Then finally we go to Athens, Greece for an update on the results of Sunday’s critical election expected to bring the new leftist Syriza Party to power which will shake up the eurozone since Syriza’s leader Alexis Tsipras has vowed “a return of social dignity and social justice” that is expected to involve a renegotiation of Greece’s debt arrangements and the austerity measures imposed on the Greek people after a series of bailouts by the EU and the ECB. John Brady Kiesling, a former political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Athens who now lives in Athens and is the author of the new book “Greek Urban Warriors: Resistance and Terrorism 1967 – 2014” joins us to discuss the political earthquake underway in Greece and its likely fallout.   

john brady kiesling

 

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January 22 - The Bizarre Political Drama Underway in Argentina; Will the ECB's QE Jump Start the Ailing Eurozone?; Obama's Belated Epiphany

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We begin with the political drama underway in Argentina where the country’s top prosecutor was murdered hours before he was to appear before the Congress to reveal a government cover-up of Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the Inter-American Dialogue, joins us to discuss the bizarre reversal of Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner who first claimed the prosecutor’s death was suicide, but is now saying it was not, even though the prosecutor was charging that she was involved in a plot to cover up Iran’s role in the bombing.

 

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Then we examine the European Central Bank’s infusion of 1.1 trillion Euros into the ailing eurozone economies with Quantitative Easing similar to what the Federal Reserve has done to revive the U.S. economy. Joining us from London is economist Stephany Griffith Jones, a Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London and the Director of the Financial Markets Program at the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia University. We  discuss the connection between Europe’s economic slump and the rise of right wing parties and the report by Oxfam released on the eve of the gathering of the global elite now underway in Davos, Switzerland that finds more than half of global wealth is controlled by 1% of the world’s population.

 

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Then finally we speak with Michael Brenner, a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburg and a Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. We discuss his article at The Huffington Post “Obama’s Epiphany” and Obama’s State of the Union speech that Michael Brenner argues is six years and three elections too late, and the gap between the president’s rhetoric and the current political realities.

 

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