Background Briefing: December 20, 2023


Netanyahu and Putin Drag Out Their Wars That Hurt Biden to Bring Back Trump

We begin with the wars in Gaza and Ukraine that have become political burdens for Biden as they drag on with the two most destructive and despicable figures on the world stage, Netanyahu and Putin, wanting to prolong the wars to help Trump return to the presidency to do their bidding. Joining us is Lincoln Mitchell, a professor of Political Science at Columbia University, where he also serves as an associate scholar in the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies. He is the author of numerous books on the former Soviet states, baseball, and democracy, the latest of which is The Giants and Their City: Major League Baseball in San Francisco, 1976-1992. We discuss his article at,Biden’s Reelection Hopes Are Increasingly In Netanyahu’s Hands.”


The Author of a New Report From Human Rights Watch on Starvation in Gaza

Then we go to Jordan to speak with Omar Shakir, who serves as the Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch, where he investigates human rights abuses in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza and has authored several major reports, including a 2021 report comprehensively documenting how Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against millions of Palestinians. As a result of his advocacy, the Israeli government deported Omar in November 2019. He is the co-author of a new report at Human Rights Watch, which we discuss, “Israel Is Starving Gaza Civilians as a ‘Method of Warfare.'”


Having Stymied Prior Comprehensive Solutions, Republicans Now Demagogue the Border Crisis

Then finally we look into how Trump, Governor Abbott and the Republicans are demagoguing the crisis at the southern border without offering workable policies, having stymied earlier efforts for a comprehensive solution, as 200,000 immigrants a month continue to show up. Joining us is Gus Bova, a senior staff writer and assistant editor at the Texas Observer where he covers labor, immigration and politics. He previously worked at a shelter for recently arrived immigrants and asylum-seekers and we discuss his latest article at The Observer, “Texas Is Challenging 150 Years of Immigration Law.”