Background Briefing: January 7, 2020


Australia: A Continent on Fire

We begin with a continent on fire, Australia, where bush fires from east to west, north to south have burned out of control for months and are likely to continue for at least a month more. With an area more than New Hampshire and Vermont combined already burned and the air in major cities too dangerous to breath, and an estimated one billion kangaroos, koalas and other animals burned to death, the horrific reality of the loss of life, homes, farms, land and livestock, not to mention the country’s iconic wildlife, stands in stark contrast to Australia’s leadership of global warming-denying politicians in the pockets of coal barons who are propped up by Rupert Murdoch’s propaganda machine which controls almost two thirds of the nation’s newspapers and television. An expert on the history, ecology, and management of fire, Stephen Pyne, Emeritus Professor in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University and author of “Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America”, joins us to discuss his article at The Guardian, “The Australian fires are a harbinger of things to come. Don’t ignore their warning”. With the devastation so immense not just on the land but in the surrounding ocean where temperature rise is destroying the magnificent Great Barrier Reef, it seems likely that Australia’s version of a composite of Trump’s denial, Pence’s piety and Bolsonaro’s contempt for the environment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, might soon find his days of political survival are numbered.


The Mysterious Deaths of Trump’s Bankers

Then we speak with James Henry, an economist, lawyer and investigative journalist who is a specialist in global banking and offshore tax havens and is the author of “Blood Bankers”. He joins us to discuss the emerging news about the president’s ties to Deutsche Bank and the bank’s ties to the Russian State Bank VTB reported to have underwritten 2 billion in loans to the serially bankrupt and un-creditworthy Donald Trump. We will examine the coincidence that Deutsche Bank’s two former heads of private banking where hanged in mysterious circumstances along with a banker in Estonia who laundered 220 billion for Putin and also allegedly hanged himself.


Iran’s Retaliation Appears Intent on Avoiding an Escalation

Then finally, with reports coming in from Iranian State TV, now confirmed by the Pentagon, that the Revolutionary Guards fired more than a dozen missiles at two U.S. airbases in Iraq. We will get an update on the breaking news from Nader Hashemi, the Director of Middle East Studies at the University of Denver who is monitoring both the U.S. and Iran’s media to assess whether so far this is the big proportional retaliation Iran promised, or just the beginning of a series of attacks on U.S. bases and facilities in the country over which Iran has considerable influence. With no U.S. casualties reported so far, we will also look into what kind of response will come from President Trump who had earlier threatened to destroy 52 targets in Iran including important cultural sites.