Background Briefing: December 7, 2023

A Meaningless Debate in a Democratic Ritual That Avoided Discussing Our Endangered Democracy

We begin with the last of the Republican presidential candidates’ debate which was on a lesser known network NewsNation and featured the final four Christie, DeSantis, Haley and Ramaswamy challenging Trump who was not on the debate stage and is way ahead in the polls. Joining us to discuss a ritual in our democratic process that avoided discussing the endangered state of our democracy is Aaron Rupar, who until recently was the associate editor for politics and policy at Vox and is now an independent journalist covering US politics and media. He is the author of Public Notice at where his latest articles include “The last GOP debate features the saddest final 4 ever: They’re competing for a participation trophy.”


How Anti-War Left Wing Activists in Israel Are Being Threatened and Silenced

Then we go to Israel to speak with Haggai Matar, an award-winning Israeli journalist and political activist. He is the executive director of +972 Magazine. We discuss his article at The New Statesman, “There is little tolerance in Israel for dissenting feelings” and how anti-war left wing activists in Israel are being silenced and threatened while right wing thugs and religious nationalists are protected and encouraged by the government and police. 


Growing Tensions as Venezuela Threatens to Annex an Oil-Rich Region of Guyana

Then finally we look into growing tensions on the border between Venezuela and Guyana as Venezuela’s President Maduro makes claims on his neighboring country threatening to annex an oil and mineral rich chunk of Guyana. Joining us from Venezuela is Phil Gunson, the Andes Project Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group who conducts advocacy on political issues in the Andes region, focusing primarily on the Venezuelan political situation. He has spent almost 40 years reporting on Latin America for the BBC World Service, The Guardian and The Economist. In the 1980s he covered the wars in Central America, and in the late 1990s he was Latin America correspondent for The Guardian, based in Mexico City. He has co-authored two books on the region, including a two­-volume political dictionary of Latin America and the Caribbean.