October 4 -

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We begin with incriminating emails between the State Department and a Canadian oil company which plans to build an oil pipeline from the tar sands of Alberta across the U.S. to Texas. Kim Huynh, the Director of the Dirty Fuels Program at Friends of the Earth, who obtained these emails through a Freedom of Information request, joins us to discuss a cozy relationship where the State Department instead of exercising oversight, is facilitating the oil pipeline. kim huynh

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Then on the first day of a two day meeting between Afghan President Karzai and Prime Minister Monmohan Singh of India, we examine the strategic agreement just announced between India and Afghanistan that is bound to antagonize Pakistan. Ashley Tellis who served on the National Security Council staff as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Southwest Asia joins us to discuss the contents of the agreement and its implications as India tries to fill a strategic vacuum with the impending withdrawal of NATO and the US from Afghanistan in 2014. Ashley Tellis

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Then finally we try to assess the deteriorating health of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez and the likely power struggle that will follow his incapacitation if it comes to that. Javier Corrales, the co-author of “Dragon in the Tropics: Hugo Chavez and the Political Economy of Revolution in Venezuela” joins us to discuss succession and internal politics in this volatile and polarized country. Javier Corrales

 

October 3 - Democracy Comes to Wall Street; Denying Five Million Americans the Vote; Going Postal on the Postal Service

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We begin and talk with Jeff Madrick, who along with Nobel economist Joe Stiglitz, was asked to address the demonstrators of the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York’s Zuccotti Park. We learn what the demonstrators wanted to know and what Joe Stiglitz and Jeff Madrick learned from them. Jeff Madrick

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Then we discuss the national scandal and international disgrace that five million Americans are deliberately being denied the vote in 2012, due to a concerted effort by Republican State legislatures and governors who have changed the rules to suppress and deny five million of their fellow citizens the right to vote next year. Wendy Weiser, the director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law, who co-authored a new study just out, “Voting Law Changes in 2012” joins us. She explains how our democracy, that is so often celebrated, is being so brazenly and shamefully manipulated. Wendy Weiser

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Then finally we speak with historical geographer Dr. Gray Brechin who is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley and is trying to save America’s post offices from a manufactured crisis ginned up by free-market ideologues in Congress who want to close 2,500 post offices immediately, and plan to close 16,000 post offices by 2020, in a deliberate effort to destroy the postal service and sell off its valuable real estate in a fire sale. Gray Brechin

 

October 2 - A License to Kill American Citizens?; Whose Side Are We On In Yemen?; Are You A Rebel Or A Slave?

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We begin and discuss the extra-judicial killing of two American citizens by the American government that has been largely met will widespread approval and praise. U.S. Constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein, who served as Deputy Attorney General in the Reagan Administration and is the author of "American Empire: Before The Fall”, joins us to determine the implications for our civil liberties at home now that the U.S. appears to have a license to kill its own citizens, and the blowback abroad that might aid our enemies.   bruce fein

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Then we discuss the fallout of the killings of the alleged leaders of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Awlaki and Khan, on Yemen and how it will impact the power struggle between the family of the 33 year long dictatorship of President Saleh and the democracy movement inspired by the Arab Spring that has the country on the brink of civil war and poised to be a failed state. With Saleh taking credit along with the U.S., Sheila Carapico, a visiting professor at American University in Cairo and author of “Civil Society in Yemen: the Political Economy of Activism in Modern Arabia”, joins us to question why we continue to fixate on Al Qaeda and support the Saudi peace initiative that is going nowhere, instead of siding with the democracy movement in Yemen. sheila Carapico

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Then finally we discuss our own Arab Spring, the American Autumn, as protests continue in New York, Boston, LA and around the country against Wall Street and the shrinkage of the middle class, the impoverishment of working Americans and the growing wealth and political power of America’s oligarchs. Veteran New York Times correspondent and Pulitzer-prize winning author Chris Hedges joins us to ask whether you are a rebel or a slave. chris hedges

 

September 29 - Desperately Seeking The Illusory Center; Hugo Chavez's Succession?; The Film Maker of "Sarah Palin: You Betcha"

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Hello and welcome to Background Briefing, I’m Ian Masters and today we will examine a number of stories and issues in the news. We will begin with Stanley Greenberg, a veteran pollster for Bill Clinton, Tony Blair and Nelson Mandela among other world leader.  He believes that the much-sought-after center in American politics is a myth and that the Independent voter is an illusion. Since the Obama administration’s strategy seems to be to continually reach out to the center, this could spell trouble for them. stan greenberg

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Then we will speak with Dr. Kevin Casas-Zamora who is the former Vice President of Costa Rica and a senior fellow in Foreign Policy in Brookings’ Latin America Initiative. We will discuss the deteriorating health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and what is expected to be a furious power struggle to succeed him, given the lack of transparency about succession and the highly polarized political battle lines in Venezuela. kevin zamora

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Then finally we will speak with British documentarian Nick Broomfield whose latest feature documentary “Sarah Palin: You Betcha” opens in theatres tomorrow. He and his co-director Joan Churchill have spent months in Wasilla, Alaska talking to family, friends and former friends and co-workers of the former beauty queen, who in spite of her efforts to deny ugly charges about who she actually is, still might run for president. nick broomfield

 

September 28 - Bill Clinton Blames Netanyahu for Killing Peace; Do Wall Streeters Have Shame?; The Antichrist in American Politics

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We begin with Josh Rogin who writes the daily web column “The Cable” at Foreign Policy. Last week, in a round-table discussion with President Bill Clinton, Josh Rogin got the former president to speak on the record about his efforts at Middle East peace that came close to solving the Israeli/Palestinian agony and why they failed. In short Bill Clinton blamed Netanyahu and we discuss these revelations with Josh Rogin who has an article at Foreign Policy “Bill Clinton: Netanyahu Killed The Peace Process”.

 

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Then Doug Henwood joins us. He is the editor of the Left Business Observer and the author of “Wall Street: How it Works and Who For”. We discuss whether the people inside the tall towers on Wall Street are being shamed by the protesters outside.

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Then we look into “Why the Antichrist Matters in Politics” the title of an op-ed in Monday’s New York Times. As it happened, later Monday night at a fundraiser in Los Angeles a heckler accused President Obama of being the Antichrist. The author of the article, Matthew Sutton, Professor of History at Washington State University joins us. He is completing a new book “American Evangelicals and the Politics of Apocalypse”. Mathew Sutton