Background Briefing: April 2, 2019


Anti-Vaxxers and the Growing Measles Epidemic

We begin with America’s vaccination crisis with measles outbreaks in 15 states and the number of measles cases in just the first three months of this year already totaling the second-highest number of cases since 2000 when measles was eradicated. Arthur Caplan, Professor of Bioethics and Director of the Division of Medical Ethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center’s Department of Population Health joins us to discuss the difficulty of pulling the nation together to combat a growing threat which is dealt with at the state level when an entrenched minority does not share in the scientific reality of the need for vaccination. Furthermore the leader of our country attacks science and believes in ridiculous conspiracy theories among which are the anti-vaxxer delusions that the wife of his just-departed White House Communications Director, Darla Shine is a vocal proponent of.  We examine the role of social media in spreading the deadly selfishness of people whose personal belief systems trump public safety as they place at risk patients with compromised immune systems like those suffering from AIDS and those receiving cancer treatment, not to mention newborn babies. With the move by the State of California to end the personal belief loophole, we will look into what can be done to stop the current measles epidemic from spreading.


Erdogan Rebuked in Turkey’s Elections

Then we get an analysis of the recent elections in Turkey which were a rebuke to the country’s authoritarian leader Erdogan who is disputing the results in the main cities where his Islamist party was defeated by the secular CHP (Republican Peoples Party) but won in the rural areas. David Phillips, the Director of the Peacebuilding and Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and author of “The Great Betrayal: How America Abandoned the Kurds and Lost the Middle East”, joins us to discuss Trump’s reckless amateurism in pulling the U.S. out of Syria and abandoning the Kurds before the captured ISIS fighters and their families are vetted, thus allowing the terrorists to filter back to Europe and America to try to kill us again.


Can a Ukrainian Comedian Handle Vladimir Putin?

Then finally we examine the phenomenon of comedians being elected in Guatemala, Italy and now Ukraine, where a comedian starring in a popular TV show that portrays a regular guy suddenly becoming the leader of a country run by corrupt politicians, which if Volodymyr Zelensky wins in the April 21st run-off election, would make truth stranger than fiction. Steven Pifer, a former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and senior director for Russia and Ukraine on the National Security Council, joins us to discuss whether this novice non-politician, if elected, is up to handling Vladimir Putin.