Background Briefing: June 1, 2020


The 1992 Rodney King Riots and Today’s Looting and Rioting in LA

With Los Angeles under a curfew for a third night in a row following looting yesterday in Santa Monica and Long Beach, we will begin with an historical perspective from a sociologist who has studied the LA riots of 1992 sparked by the beating of Rodney King. Darnell Hunt, Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA and author of Screening the Los Angeles “Riots”, Race, Seeing, and Resistance and Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities, joins us to discuss the similarities between then and now, chiefly that while incidents of police brutality continue daily out of sight,  Rodney King’s beating was caught on tape as was the murder of George Floyd. But this time there appears to be a lot of malign political actors taking advantage of the protests whether they are anarchists, white nationalists or Vladimir Putin, not to mention the street gangs who have targeted high-end stores in The Grove and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. And while Trump slinked off into his bunker yesterday as a very vocal crowd across from the White House in Lafayette Park called for justice for George Floyd, today he berated the nation’s governors for being “weak” urging them to “dominate” the protestors, taunting “if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time”.


How the Fed Not Only Tolerates Budget Deficits But Facilitates Them

Then we go to the U.K. to speak with Sebastian Mallaby, the Paul Volker Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Man Who Knew: The Life & Times of Alan Greenspan and More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite. He joins us to discuss his new article at Foreign Affairs, “The Age of Magic Money: Can Endless Spending Prevent Economic Calamity” and how the disappearance of inflation has allowed the Fed to not only tolerate budget deficits, but to facilitate them.

How Conspiracy Theories Could Prolong the Pandemic

Then finally we examine how anti-vaxxing conspiracy theories might prolong the pandemic for years if the polls indicating 23% of Americans might not take a Covid-19 vaccination if it were available are accurate, thus negating all the efforts taken so far. Joseph Pierre, a Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, who has extensive clinical experience working at the intersection of psychosis and religion on delusion-like beliefs and conspiracy theories, joins us.