Month: March 2023

Background Briefing: March 30, 2023

An American Journalist Charged with Spying Who Was Arrested in Russia For the Crime of Reporting

We begin with the arrest of a Wall Street Journal reporter in Russia by the FSB who is charged with spying in an obvious effort by Putin to cower the foreign press who at any moment could be arrested for the crime of reporting just as the Russian people can be arrested for the crime of calling the “special military operation” in Ukraine a war. Joining us is David Satter, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies who has been one of the world’s leading commentators on Russian affairs for more than four decades. He was the Moscow correspondent of the Financial Times from 1976 to 1982 and has written several books about Russia including Age of Delirium: The Decline and Fall of the Soviet Union and The Less You Know, The Better You Sleep: Russia’s Road to Terror and Dictatorship under Yeltsin and Putin. In December, 2013, he was expelled from Russia where he had been accredited as a Radio Liberty correspondent becoming the first U.S. journalist to be barred from Russia since the Cold War.


More Chemical Spills into Rivers as Plan B for Big Oil is the Manufacture of Plastics

Then with 8,100 gallons of latex emulsion spilled into the Delaware River threatening drinking water in Pennsylvania and a barge carrying 1,400 tons of methanol submerged in the Ohio River, we will assess the growing threat of pollution from the transportation of hazardous chemicals, many used in the manufacture of plastics. Joining us is Will Bunch, who is an award-winning national opinion columnist  for the Philadelphia Inquirer who blogs at He is the author of The Bern Identity: A Search for Bernie Sanders and the New American Dream and, most recently, After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politics—and How to Fix It. We discuss his latest article at the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Water scare latest attack on Pa. by plastics” and how the boom in manufacturing plastics is the Plan B for the oil and gas giants like Shell.


How Far-Right Religious Nationalism Has Captured the World’s Biggest Democracy

Then finally, with the Prime Ministers of India and Israel participating in Biden’s Summit for Democracy in spite of Modi trying to jail the leader of the opposition on trumped up charges while Netanyahu is trying to take over Israel’s independent judiciary in order to stay out of jail, we examine what can be done to stop the scourge of far-right religious nationalism undoing the world’s biggest democracy and what Israel prides itself as the only democracy in the Middle East. Joining us is Dr. Sumit Ganguly, who holds the Rabindranath Tagore Chair in Indian Cultures and Civilizations at Indiana University in Bloomington. His books include Fearful Symmetry: India and Pakistan Under the Shadow of Nuclear Weapons, India Since 1980, India, Pakistan, and the Bomb: Debating Nuclear Stability in South Asia and his latest, The Oxford Handbook of India’s National Security. We discuss his article at Foreign Policy Magazine, “How Modi and Bibi Built a Military Alliance.”