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 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 escalating tension between the U.S. and North Korea following the North’s UN Ambassador Ri Yong Ho’s assertion that President Trump’s comments at the UN that he will “totally destroy” North Korea and his subsequent tweet that the North Korean leadership “won’t be around much longer” constitute a declaration of war by the U.S. giving the North Koreans “every right to make counter-measures”. Charles Armstrong, a professor of History and Director of the Center for Korean Research at Columbia University and author of “Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World” joins us to discuss the nature of the North Korean regime as a mixture of politics and spirituality whose subjects are taught from childhood that they come from the birthplace of civilization and are indoctrinated with the “Juche” self-reliance philosophy, a nationalistic religious cult led by the dynastic Kim family who the North Korean people believe are the royal lineage of Tangun, the mythical founder of Korea 4,500 years ago.

Then we get an assessment of the nuclear threat from North Korea following their recent announcement of their intention to shoot a missile with an H-bomb on it to be detonated somewhere over the Pacific. Philip Coyle, who was associate director for national security and international affairs in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Assistant Secretary of Defense and Director of Operational Test and Evaluation in the Department of Defense, joins us. We discuss the likelihood of reckless rhetoric leading to a nuclear exchange in Northeast Asia.

Then finally we look into Sunday’s extraordinary display of solidarity and indignation expressed by NFL players and owners in response to Trump’s crude attack on Colin Kaepernick for taking a knee during the national anthem and the president’s contention that the NFL was losing fans because the game was not violent enough. Ben Carrington, a Professor at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and author of “Race, Sport and Politics” joins us to discuss Trump’s dog whistle to his angry white voters that if the mostly black players in the NFL “want the privilege of making millions of dollars” they “should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag”…if not YOU’RE FIRED”.

Background Briefing

September 25, 2017

PROGRAM NOTES

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