Background Briefing: January 30, 2022


Will the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Meet the Infrastructure Crisis With 43,000 Unsafe Bridges Nationwide?

We begin with the bridge collapsing in Pittsburgh just before President Biden arrived there to address the dire state of infrastructure in the country with 43,000 bridges nationwide in poor and unsafe condition. Joining us is Nestor Gomez, professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and we discuss the extent to which the bipartisan infrastructure bill will address these long-neglected problems with money in the pipeline going to Pittsburgh. But there is some question as to whether the need for steel and cement can be met since so much outsourcing has led to a decline of manufacturing and supply chains are now stressed creating shortages of vital components. 


Multinational Oil Companies Cut Off Revenues to the Burmese Junta

Then we get some good news for a change in terms of efforts underway to cut off revenues going to the murderous kleptocratic military junta in Burma/Myanmar with the French energy company Total along with Chevron and Shell pulling out of oil and gas deals that provide the junta with one billion a year. Joining us is Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division where he oversees the organization’s work on human rights issues in twenty countries, from Afghanistan to the Pacific. He worked in Cambodia for five years as the senior lawyer for the Cambodia field office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and now teaches International Human Rights Law and Practice at the UC Berkeley Law School. And since Total have acknowledged they pulled out of Myanmar largely because of lobbying from Human Rights Watch, we examine whether pressure on Thailand and Singapore to stop the financial flow to the junta will help free the oppressed Burmese oppressed people.


Similarities Between the Plot Smedley Butler Exposed and the January 6 Coup Attempt

Then finally we speak with Jonathan Katz, who received the James Foley/Medill Medal for Courage in Journalism for his reporting from Haiti.  He was a New America national fellow in the Future of War program and his latest book, just out, is Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire. We discuss the Wall Street coup plot against FDR that Smedley Butler exposed and the similarities between what happened in 1933 and the January 6 attempted coup.