Background Briefing: January 10, 2024


The Last Days Ahead of Monday’s Iowa Caucuses and Tonight’s CNN Debate Overshadowed by a Trump Town Hall on Fox

We begin with the last days leading up to the Iowa caucuses on Monday with the final candidates’ debate tonight on CNN between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis that will pale in terms of ratings up against a Fox News Town Hall with Donald Trump, which is likely to be replete with wild accusations and fact-free assertions. Joining us for an appraisal of the candidates is Robert Leonard, News Director for KNIA/KRLS Knoxville and Pella, Iowa where he covered the current and the last several Iowa caucuses. He is an anthropologist, and author of Yellow Cab, Deep Midwest and Riding the Caucus Rollercoaster.


Amid Gang Violence, Ecuador Appears to be Close to a Failed State

Then we look into yesterday’s televised mayhem in Ecuador where gangs took over live TV broadcasts terrifying news anchors showing police held hostage at gunpoint begging for their lives. Joining us to discuss how Ecuador is close to a failed state descending into gang violence and the role of Mexican drug cartels in the chaos is Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera, a Professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University whose research focuses on Mexico-U.S. relations, organized crime, immigration, border security, and human trafficking. She was recently the Principal Investigator of a research grant to study organized crime and trafficking in persons in Central America and along Mexico’s eastern migration routes, supported by the Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The President of the Association for Borderlands Studies, her latest book is Los Zetas Inc.: Criminal Corporations, Energy, and Civil War in Mexico and her forthcoming book is Frontera: A Journey Across the US/Mexico Border.


Asymmetrical Clashes in the Red Sea Between Powerful Navies and Houthi Rebels

Then finally we assess the asymmetrical clashes in the Red Sea between the powerful navies of the US and other coalition partners and the Houthi rebels who just fired salvos of drones, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles at ships and towards Israel. We speak with Charles Schmitz, a professor of Geography at Towson University. He has researched and written extensively on Yemen and its relationships with other nations on the Arabian Peninsula and with the United States and joins us to discuss how attacking Houthi bases in Yemen is unlikely because it could upend the country’s peace deal close to resolution.