Background Briefing: December 10, 2018


The US Joins Russia and Saudi Arabia in Preventing Action on Global Warming

We begin with the U.N.’s COP 24 climate talks underway in Poland in the middle of Polish coal country on the continent of Europe where a severe drought caused by climate change has Europe’s major rivers at record low levels such that cruise ships can no longer tour the Rhine.  Jody Freeman, a Professor and the founding director of the Environmental Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School who also served as Counselor for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama White House joins us to discuss the reversal of the U.S.’s role from a champion of the Paris Agreement to the leader of the rejectionists and deniers of global warming. On Saturday the U.S. joined Saudi Arabia and Russia in trying to minimize the dire International Panel on Climate Change report on the approaching catastrophe of a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in global temperature, then on Monday the U.S. hosted a panel touting the virtues of fossil fuels, promoting the fiction of “clean coal” which was met with derisive laughter and protests from young activists shouting “shame on you” and “keep it in the ground”.


Brexit Moves from Folly to Farce

Then we examine the worsening Brexit crisis in Britain as the political paralysis from this disastrous referendum moves from folly to farce with Prime Minister May cancelling a vote in parliament to ratify her unpopular Brexit deal with the European Union which was facing certain if not humiliating defeat. Harold Clarke, a Professor in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas and a visiting professor at the University of Manchester whose latest book is Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union, joins us. Since it is highly unlikely May will get a better deal with the E.U. as the March 2019 Brexit deadline looms, we will discuss the growing possibility of a do-over referendum to end this self-inflicted nightmare promoted by Trump and covertly financed by Putin.


The Challenge for Journalists Covering a Serial Liar Who Has the “Bully Pulpit”

Then finally with Donald Trump tweeting out bald-faced lies that the U.S. is the only major country where global warming emissions went down last year when the opposite is true, we speak with Yochai Benkler, the faculty co-director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and co-author of the new book Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics. He joins us to discuss the challenge for journalists covering the White House where the occupant of the Oval Office has the “bully pulpit” but is serial liar. Furthermore Trump is kept in power by Rupert Murdoch whose propaganda outfit Fox News continues to keep Trump’s supporters inside a bubble of delusion in with they are impervious to the facts and evidence which have the majority of Americans in a state of alarm about what Trump is doing to the country and the world.