December 17 - American Corporations Cave in to North Korean Terrorist Threats; A New Chapter in U.S. / Cuban Relations; Will the Lives of Cubans Improve or the Profits of Multi-Nationals?

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We begin with the cave-in to North Korean terrorist threats invoking 9/11 by America’s largest movie theater companies who are refusing to show the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy “The Interview” due out at Christmas. Sung Yoon Lee, a Professor of International Affairs at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University and an Associate in Research at the Korea Institute at Harvard University, joins us to discuss the disgraceful abdication of freedom of speech and capitulation by American corporations to ludicrous and empty threats from a criminal regime with almost no presence or supporters in the United States, while beyond rhetoric, according to the Department of Homeland Security, there is “no credible intelligence to indicate an active plot”.

sung yoon lee

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Then we examine the historic shift in U.S. foreign policy announced today by President Obama, heralding a new chapter in U.S./Cuban relations following a 45 minute phone call on Monday with Cuba’s president Raul Castro and active intervention by the Pope to bring about a prisoner swap that opened the door for the breakthrough to end a dysfunctional almost seventy year-long frozen relationship. Arturo Lopez Levy, who worked as a political analyst for the Cuban government and is now a consultant to the New America Foundation and the Inter-American Dialogue about Cuba and American Policy towards Latin America, joins us to discuss the beginning of normalization between the United States and Cuba.

arturo lopez levy

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Then finally, we look into what a renewal of relations with Cuba might mean, particularly in terms of U.S. investments in Cuba and whether this will improve the lives of Cubans or increase the wealth of multi-national companies building mega-ports and tourist hotels. Luis Martinez-Fernandez, a Professor of History at the University of Central Florida who focuses on the histories of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, joins us to discuss his concerns that Cuba could be re-colonized and his new book “Revolutionary Cuba: A History”.

louis martinez fernandez

 

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December 16 - The Pakistan Taliban Retaliate by Slaughtering Children; The Ruble in Freefall as Obama Is Poised to Sign off on Increased Sanctions; The Continuing Hype about the so-Called Islamic State That Has Nothing to Do with Islam

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We begin with the massacre of schoolchildren by the Pakistan Taliban and speak with Shuja Nawaz, a native of Pakistan who has worked as a journalist, a television producer, and a political and strategic analyst. He is the Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council of the United States and is the author of “Crossed Swords: Pakistan, its Army, and the Wars Within” and we discuss the apparent retaliation by the Pakistan Taliban against the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that has recently dramatically increased its targeting of the Pakistan Taliban in the tribal regions, including North Waziristan where the previously untouchable Haqqani network have been under attack from government airstrikes.

barry eichengreen

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Then, with President Obama about to sign a bill increasing sanctions on Russia, we will look into the freefall of the Russian ruble and desperate intervention by the Russian Central Bank which raised interest rates from 10.5% to 17% while the ruble, having lost half of its value against the dollar this year, fell as low as 79 rubles to the dollar. Barry Eichengreen, a Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California Berkeley, who served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the International Monetary Fund, joins us to discuss the economic crisis Putin is facing from increased sanctions and falling oil prices, none of which is being reported by the Russian media.

 
shuja nawaz

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Then finally Middle East expert Juan Cole joins us in the studio to discuss the latest so-called act of Islamic terrorism in Sydney, Australia that made international news because a demented self-proclaimed imam decided to align himself with the so-called Islamic State by taking hostages, two of whom were killed along with him. We discuss the continuing hype associated with the Islamic State that most Arabs derisively refer to as “Daesh”, since these thugs, rapists and murderers have nothing to do with Islam, but nevertheless any deranged individual can act in the name of the Islamic State and be guaranteed global headlines.

jaun cole

 

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December 15 - 200 Nations Agree to the First Deal to Reduce CO2 Emissions; A Two Year Deadline at the U.N. For the End of Israeli Occupation; Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal

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We begin with just-concluded international climate conference in Lima, Peru where 200 nations agreed on the first deal that commits every country in the world to reducing fossil fuel emissions from burning oil, gas and coal that cause global warming. The Global Director of the Climate Program at the World Resources Institute, Jennifer Morgan, joins us from Lima, Peru for an update on draft text from the COP 20 conference known as the Lima Accord that will be used as the basis for negotiations leading up to the December 2015 Paris Climate Pact summit.

 

jennifer morgan

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Then we examine the diplomatic flurry going on in Rome where Secretary of State Kerry met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, then with the foreign ministers of Great Britain, France and Germany before discussions on Tuesday in London with the top Palestinian negotiator and the head of the Arab League. Miko Peled, an Israeli writer and activist and author of “The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine” joins us to discuss the draft resolution circulated by Jordan that France is expected to introduce to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday laying down a two year deadline for an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord that would end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

miko pelo

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Then finally with calls for the U.S. to invest a trillion dollar to modernize its nuclear arsenal, we will look into the lack of investment in nuclear diplomacy and threat reduction with Michael Krepon, the co-founder of the Henry L. Stimson Center and author of “Better Safe Than Sorry: The Ironies of Living With the Bomb”.  We discuss the dangers of modernizing all three legs of the nuclear Triad of land, sea and air delivery of nuclear weapons, without diplomacy and investments in non-military means of threat reduction.

 

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December 14 - Why the Democrats Caved and How the Republicans Got Away with Killing Financial Reform; "How the U.S. Created the Islamic State"; "Putin's Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?"

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We begin with the $1.1 trillion government funding bill which the president is expected to sign that passed the Senate Saturday night laden with Christmas presents for Wall Street in a blatant quid pro quo that will allow Wall Street to gamble on derivatives with the taxpayer left holding the bag, which is exactly what brought about the 2008 crash, while Wall Street is now able to send checks of $324,000 to political parties instead of the maximum of $32,400 previously allowed.  Bartlett Naylor, the financial policy advocate for Public Citizen who previously served as chief of investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee joins us to discuss why the Democrats caved and how Republicans got away with weakening the Dodd-Frank banking reforms passed in the wake of the financial crash, and how they will continue to weaken it further by attaching riders to future critical spending bills.  

bart naylor

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Then we speak with writer, journalist and professor, Mark Danner, about his new film at VICE News in collaboration with the New York Review of Books, “How the U.S. Created the Islamic State”.  We look into the role of the prison system set up by the U.S. following the invasion and occupation of Iraq that detained 24,000 men in 24 camps, including the top commanders of what was to become the senior leadership of the Islamic State who were able to organized the terror group at Camp Bucca right under the noses of their American jailers.

mark danner

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Then finally we discuss the criminal state that Russia has become under the leadership of Vladimir Putin and his handful of cronies who control 35% of the country’s wealth that they have stolen while merging with the global criminal underworld in a black economy that accounts for up to 50% of the world’s wealth, undermining the global financial system while ironically depending on it for stability. Karen Dawisha, the Director of Russian and Post-Soviet Studies at Miami University in Ohio joins us to discuss her new book, just out, “Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Owns Russia?”

karen dawisha

 

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December 11 - Holding Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld Culpable for Torture; "Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare; The Other Torture Report

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We begin with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He joins us to discuss the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s use of torture and rendition, in particular revelations in the report that the Bush White House went out of their way to keep Colonel Wilkerson’s boss Colin Powell in the dark, when the Bush/Cheney Administration abandoned the moral high ground as they embraced the “dark side” in response to the 9/11 attacks. We also look into the extent to which Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice should be held responsible for the torture regime that they championed, directed and managed, along with elements within the CIA who followed their orders.

lawrence wilkerson

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Then we assess the press conference today by the CIA Director John Brennan who defended the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods that he admitted were harsh and abhorrent but when pressed to provide evidence that torture had obtained useful information, offered the following; “the cause–and-effect relationship between the use of EIT’s (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques) and useful information subsequently provided by detainees is, in my view, unknowable.” Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harpers in legal affairs and national security, joins us to discuss Brennan’s less-than-robust defense of the CIA and Scott Horton’s new book “Lords of Secrecy: The National Security State and America’s Stealth Warfare”.

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Then finally we examine the other torture report, the National Truth Commission report presented by Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff at a ceremony in Brasilia at which she broke down in tears having been a victim herself of torture by the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 until 1985. Paulo Sotero, the Director of the Brazil Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center joins us to discuss the report and the burgeoning corruption scandal engulfing the national oil company Petrobas that threatens Rousseff’s government.

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