We begin with the release of 13.4 million secret files of hidden offshore accounts by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists whose previous release of the Panama Papers caused consternation amongst the global elite of billionaires, oligarchs and kleptocrats. This time it is the Paradise Papers that has everyone from members of Trump’s cabinet to the Queen of England ensnared in tax-dodging schemes along with giant corporations like Nike and Apple. Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Michael Hudson, a senior editor for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists joins us to discuss the price average citizens around the world pay because of the $10 trillion hidden offshore by the wealth defense industry of lawyers, accountants and lobbyists, in collusion with politicians, which pushes the tax burden onto everyone else below the super-rich, starving governments of funds for health, education and welfare. We also examine the impact of this expose on the on-going investigations into Trump’s ties to the Russians given how much Trump’s Secretary of Commerce and his son-in-law are swept up in the Paradise Papers scandal.

Then we look into the role of domestic violence, the gun culture and lax guns laws that played a role in the latest gun massacre which the Governor of Texas is calling “the largest mass shooting” in the state’s history with 26 dead and 20 wounded, 10 in critical condition. Robert Jensen, professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of the new book, just out “The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men”, joins us to discuss the links between guns and masculinity in American culture.

Then finally we examine the presidential trip underway in Japan where Donald Trump is urging the Japanese to buy American weaponry to shoot North Korean missiles “out of the sky”, pressing his hosts to buy more U.S. military hardware to lower the trade deficit. Takako Hikotani, a Professor of Modern Japanese Politics and Foreign Policy at Columbia University and author of an article at Foreign Affairs “Trump’s Gift to Japan: Time for Tokyo to Invest in the Liberal Order”, joins us to discuss Trump’s summit with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe.

Background Briefing

November 6, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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We begin with next week’s trip to Asia that a reluctant traveler President Trump is undertaking with a tour of the Pearl Harbor memorial in Hawaii then on to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam for the APEC summit of world leaders and lastly the Philippines where he already cutting short his visit and skipping the East Asia summit being held there. The Director of East and Southeast Asia Policy at the Center for American Progress, Brian Harding, joins us from Japan.  He served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as country director for Asian and Pacific security affairs and we will discuss Trump’s reality TV show tease when asked whether he will visit the DMZ separating the two Korea’s, and the possibility that the North Koreans will upstage Trump with a nuclear or missile test. We will also look into whether or not Trump will meet with Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Vietnam and assess what might be achieved by the 12 day trip which Trump has already shortened as he did earlier with his first foreign trip abroad about which he expressed dread and cut from nine days to five.

Then we speak with Mark Perry, an author and historian specializing in military, foreign affairs, and intelligence analysis about his article at Politico “Are Trump’s Generals in Over Their Heads?” and his article at The American Conservative “How Saddam Hussein Predicted America’s Failure in Iraq” which is a chapter in his new book “The Pentagon Wars”. We assess whether there has been too much expectation placed on the generals around Trump, the so-called “adults in the room”, and examine how much the deeply conservative and politically inexperienced Chief of Staff John Kelly is way out of his depth.

Then finally we look into the country that most Americans just learned the U.S. military is involved in, Niger.  A former Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Niamey, Niger,David Litt joins us. He was a State Department political advisor to the U.S. Special Operations Command from 1998 to 2002 and we discuss his article at Foreign Policy “Why Is the United States in Niger, Anyway?” and how in a region where it is easier to get an AK-47 assault rifle than a job, weak governance and poverty make the region a fertile ground for insurgents.

Background Briefing

October 26, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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We begin with the Trump Administration’s National Security Advisor threatening a military option against North Korea in addition to Japan’s Defense Minister sounding the alarm at a meeting in the Philippines with the US and South Korean defense ministers that the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea had reached an “unprecedented, critical and imminent level” requiring “different responses”. A former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea, Donald Gregg, who was Vice President George HW Bush’s National Security Advisor, joins us to discuss his concern that Donald Trump is the greatest threat to peace and stability in Asia. He urges the Trump White House to urgently take up the offer by former President Carter to act as an envoy to resume diplomatic dialogue with North Korea before the war of words and reckless threats lead to a war that could see the first nuclear weapons used since Nagasaki, in spite of General McMaster’s assertion that there are military options available to deal with North Korea.

Then we assess the impact of Senator Jeff Flake’s impassioned resignation speech before the U.S. Senate today in which he lamented the damage being done to the country by Donald Trump and pleaded with his senate colleagues to show the leadership and courage necessary to oppose the destruction and desecration of American values, appealing to them in the name of our children who will ask “why didn’t you do something. Why didn’t you speak up?”  Joining us to discuss the likelihood that both U.S. Senate seats in Arizona will be contested in the next election is Evan Wyloge, an investigative reporter with the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting who previously spent 5 years as a reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times. We will discuss the number of Republicans vying for the seats and how much this could be an opportunity for the Democrats and who they might run.

Then finally we speak about Trump’s expected announcement on what he will do about the opioid crisis with Dr. Andrew Kolodny, the Co-director of Opioid Policy Research at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University who is also the Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. He joins us to discuss the article in The New Yorker profiling the Sackler family who own Purdue Pharma and how these prominent philanthropists pushed their drug OxyContin to generate billions in profits while creating millions of addicts in what has become America’s opioid epidemic.

Background Briefing

October 24, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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We begin with the reality TV president teasing upcoming episodes of the Apprentice in the Oval Office by cryptically warning about “the calm before the storm” then tweeting that “only one thing will work” with North Korea, implying military action. Mark Fitzpatrick, the Executive Director of the Washington-based Americas office of the International Institute for Strategic Studies and head of their Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy Program and author of “Asia’s Latent Nuclear Powers, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan”, joins us to discuss how Trump’s threats are forcing Kim Jong-un into a hair trigger posture with North Korea’s nuclear weapons based on the “use them or lose them” logic of striking first. We examine the symbiosis of hawks on both sides leading us into a holocaust and the dangers of provoking a cult-like regime whose hardliners are buoyed by delusional propaganda and the belief that they could not only survive a nuclear war with the United States, but win.

Then we get an update on the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and speak with investigative journalist James Henry, the co-founder of DCReport.org and a global justice fellow at Yale and the lead researcher for the Tax Justice Network. He joins us to discuss the significance of the special counsel’s interviews with the author of the Steele dossier and Robert Mueller’s focus on the Trump campaign’s use of data mining in social media and micro-targeting voters in key swing states with the possible magnification of their messaging involving help from Russian bots and troll farms.

Then finally we examine the consequences of the Trump Administration’s reversal of the Obamacare contraceptive mandate which will now allow employers to deny their female employees contraceptive coverage under health plans on the specious basis of a moral objection. Francis Kissling, a feminist activist and the former President of Catholics for Choice and a consultant to the Western Hemisphere Region of the International Planned Parenthood Federation joins us to discuss how employers can now save money by claiming to have a moral objection to birth control which will likely result in many more women seeking abortions.

Background Briefing

October 8, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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We begin with the additional sanctions placed on North Korea following Trump’s threat before the UN to “totally destroy” the country. Gilbert Rozman, a Professor of Sociology at Princeton University who specializes in Korea and its neighbors in Northeast Asia, China, Russia and Japan, and is the editor of the Asan Forum, joins us. We  discuss whether Trump’s order to ban ships and planes that have visited North Korea from entering the U.S. for 180 days will have any effect and whether Trump’s praise for President Xi and China’s Central Bank that “Their central bank has told their other banks, that’s a massive banking system, to immediately stop doing business with North Korea” is based on reality or wishful thinking since this is a claim that Chinese authorities have yet to confirm.

Then we assess the likelihood that Puerto Rico will get the aid it urgently needs following the devastation from Hurricane Maria which has left the island without water and electricity with the governor estimating that it will take a month or more to get electricity back for the whole island. Charles Venator Santiago, Professor of Latino Politics and Professor of Political Science at the Institute of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at the University of Connecticut joins us to discuss how Puerto Rico’s fate is in the hands of the Republican Congress following a 2016 Federal Law establishing PROMESA, the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act which has imposed austerity to deal with an extended debt and bankruptcy crisis.

Then finally, as the Special Counsel Robert Mueller zeroes in on Paul Manafort, we investigate whether Trump’s former campaign manager was a Kremlin asset and an important part of an overall Russian Intelligence operation to manipulate the American election to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump. Anders Aslund, a professor at the Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies at Georgetown University and a former Swedish diplomat in Moscow who was an economic advisor to the governments of Russia and Ukraine, joins us to discuss the ties between Manafort, the deposed pro-Russian Ukrainian leader Yanukovych and Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs close to Putin.

Background Briefing

September 21, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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