January 4 - Sessions Ignore the Opioid Crisis to Wage a War on Marijuana; It's All About Money-Laundering; Trump Tries to Stop the Publication of a Number 1 Best-Seller

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We begin with the Attorney General’s reversal of an Obama-era policy restraining federal prosecutors in states that have legalized marijuana from to bringing charges. Mark Kleiman, a Professor of Public Policy at New York University where he leads the Crime and Justice Program, joins us to discuss Jeff Session’s peculiar obsession about what he sees as a greater scourge than the opioid epidemic, marijuana, which the AG likens to heroin, and the furious backlash from Colorado’s Republican Senator Cory Gardner who accused Sessions of violating promises he had made and threatened retaliation.

 

Mark Kleiman

Part 2

Then we assess the importance of the explosive admission by Steve Bannon in the new book “Fire and Fury” which Trump is trying to suppress. Bannon’s belief that Mueller’s probe “is all about money laundering”, suggesting that the special counsel’s “path to f***ing Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr., and Jared Kushner…they’re going to roll those guys”. And Bannon goes on to say that Mueller will crack Don Jr. like an egg on national TV. An expert on international money laundering, James Henry, the co-founder with David Cay Johnston of the new investigative reporting news service DCReport.org and author of “Blood Bankers” joins us to discuss how, after being black-balled by Wall Street, money laundering became the Trump business model with an open invitation to Russian gangsters, kleptocrats, oligarchs and assorted third world looters to invest in the Trump family’s real estate projects. Buttressing Bannon’s warning, we also discuss the New York Times op-ed by the heads of Fusion GPS who urged congressional investigators to look into Trump’s Russian money laundering, an effort which but fell on deaf Republican ears.

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Part 3

Then finally we speak with Clay Calvert, the Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication and Director of the First Amendment Project at the University of Florida. He joins us to discuss Trump’s litigious efforts to silence Bannon with a cease-and-desist warning and his attack on the new book by Michael Wolff that contains the widely quoted remarks of Bannon’s which portray an unqualified and ignorant leader and first family in the White House. We assess what appears to be a futile threat by Trump’s lawyer who is demanding that the publisher immediately cease-and-desist the publication of the book but is already number 1 on Amazon’s best-seller list.

 

January 3 - Trump's Fury at His Former Chief of Staff; The Republican Cover-Up of Testimony by Fusion GPS; Pakistan's Former Ambassador to the US on Trump's Threatening Tweets

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We begin with the scorching criticism of Trump and his family by Steve Bannon in a new book that has provoked an angry and dismissive response from Donald Trump who goes so far as to say that Bannon has lost his mind. David Graham, a staff writer at The Atlantic where he has an article “Why Trump Turned on Steve Bannon”, joins us to discuss the growing number of top senior officials from the Trump campaign and the Trump White House who, after being indicted, charged or fired, suddenly become junior insignificant nobodies. We assess how much Trump’s fury at Bannon was aroused by his former Chief White House strategist and campaign CEO’s criticism of Ivanka, Jared Kushner and Donald Junior, not to mention Bannon’s portrait of a leader of the free world who is out of touch, borderline illiterate, disrespected by his own close advisors and apparently horrified that he won the election.

 

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Part 2

Then we look further into the vengeful and petty man in the Oval Office and how much he operates out of his mentor Roy Cohn’s playbook and speak with Andy Wright, a Professor at Savannah Law School who served in the White House as Associate Counsel to President Barack Obama and worked in Congress conducting oversight of U.S. National Security matters. He joins us to discuss Trump’s war on the Department of Justice and his efforts in conjunction with the White House propaganda arm, Fox News, to discredit the FBI and the Mueller investigation, as well as the Republican cover-up underway of the 21 hours of testimony to three Republican-controlled committees by the heads of Fusion GPS which refutes the White House and Fox’s case against Mueller and the FBI inquiry into Trump and the Russians.

Part 3

Then finally we speak with Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani about Trump’s threatening tweets accusing Pakistan of giving the U.S. in exchange for $33 billion in aid, “nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leader as fools”. We will examine this souring relationship from the inside and analyze the differing strategic goals of the U.S. and Pakistan as well as the growing importance of China’s role in investment and infrastructure in Pakistan.

Ambassador Husain Haqqani

 

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January 2 - Young Iranians Demonstrate Against Their Corrupt Theocratic Regime; Trumps Attack on What He Calls the "Deep State Justice Dept.; Can North Korea Drive a Wedge Between the US and South Korea?

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We begin with the demonstrations against the regime that have erupted all over Iran and are likely to result in a brutal crackdown by the Supreme Leader’s Revolutionary Guards and Basij militia. Nader Hashemi, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the School of International Studies at the University of Denver and author of “The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s future”, joins us to discuss the explosion of frustration from young Iranians whose rising expectations based on the promise of reform by President Rouhani have been cynically betrayed by a corrupt theocratic regime that cannot reform itself and depends on outside enemies for its legitimacy. We will examine the expressions of anger by young Iranians at a regime that cares more about the Palestinians and Syria than the future of its own people and the possibility that Rouhani will be sacrificed by the Supreme Leader who will unleash more repression and fill the jails even further.

 

Josef Korbel School of International Studies Professor Nader Hashemi

Part 2

Then, with President Trump calling for the Justice Department to prosecute Hillary Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin and the former head of the FBI he fired James Comey, we will assess whether Trump is trying to intimidate or purge, not just the FBI but the Justice Department, which the president referred to today in a tweet as the “Deep State Justice Dept.” A former United States Attorney and deputy assistant Attorney General in the Justice Department, Harry Litman joins us to discuss how dangerous this unprecedented attack on the non-partisanship and independence of the DOJ and the FBI is and whether Trump will succeed in his goal of undermining the investigations into him and the Russians.  

 
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Part 3

Then finally we look into whether North Korea’s Kim Jong-un can successfully drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea following his New Year’s offering of peace talks to the South Korean president to create a peaceful environment for the Olympics and the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea. Scott Snyder, a Senior Fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations joins us to discuss his article at The Atlantic “Kim Jong Un’s Trap for South Korea”.

 

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January 1 - Putin's Enemy Number One; The Infamous Trump Tower Meeting; A Roadmap of the Mueller Investigation

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Today we look back at the story that dominated the news this year and will continue to do so next year, the secret ties under investigation between Putin and team Trump and his family. We  begin with a broadcast of Background Briefing from March 26th of 2017 and go to London to speak with Bill Browder, an American businessman who was the largest investor in Russia until he fell afoul of Putin and was refused entry into Russia. His lawyer Sergei Magnitsky was murdered by Russian government officials in league with organized crime and we  discuss the assassination in Kiev of a member of Russia’s Duma who was close to the Putin inner circle and was about to testify against Yanukovych, the ousted kleptocratic former Ukrainian president who had Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort on his payroll.  We will also examine the attempted murder of the lawyer representing Magnitsky’s widow who was about to testify about thelaundering of stolen money through Cyprus banks.

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Part 2

Then we go to July 11 of 2017 with the release of an incriminating email chain between Donald Trump Junior and a British tabloid journalist representing a Russian pop singer whose father is a billionaire developer close to Putin. The emails are about setting up a June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer based on the promise that this lawyer worked for the Russian government and had top secret information from the Russian Crown prosecutor that was damaging to Hillary Clinton and “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”. Asha Rangappa, Associate Dean at Yale Law School who is a former FBI Special Agent specializing in counterintelligence investigations in New York City, joins us to discuss the extent to which the participants in this meeting acted with corrupt intent to violate campaign finance laws and if they were innocent, why did they not call the FBI immediately to report an effort on the part of Russian Intelligence to compromise them?

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Then finally we go to a broadcast of Background Briefing on November 26 of this year following the recent news that Michael Flynn is presumably cooperating with Robert Mueller. We began with a roadmap of the Mueller investigation and explored the “follow the money” strand, the political operatives strand, and the digital Kushner/Bannon/Mercer strand that will likely coalesce into a conclusion by the special counsel to recommend the impeachment of President Trump if Trump does not fire Mueller first to try to shut down the inquiry. Steven Harper, a professor at Northwestern University who blogs at “The Belly of the Beast” and has an article with Bill Moyers at Billmoyers.com “The Trump-Russia Story is Coming Together. Here’s How to Make Sense of It”, joined us.  Having produced timelines and a map with over 700 entries of the entangles ties between Putin and Trump and the murky world of Russian oligarchs, state officials, hackers, spies and Republican operatives, Steven Harper will discuss how everything that Trump, his cabinet, his campaign and his complicit GOP Congress has said about connections and collusion between Trump and Russia is a lie.

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December 31 - Inside the Enemy of the Alt-Right - Antifa; The Emergence of the Alt-Right in Trump's America

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Today we  look back at the story in the news that defined the struggle between the better angels of our nature and the emerging dark side of America that exploded into the open this year in Charlottesville, Virginia. We will begin with a broadcast of Background Briefing from August 21, 2017 in which we offered insight into a new radical movement Antifa that has become the nemesis of the alt-right who along with the Fox echo chamber have exaggerated the power and influence of a small group fighting back against well-funded right wing provocateurs on campus and Nazis attacking and murdering citizens as they did in Charlottesville, Virginia. Mark Bray, an historian of human rights, terrorism, and political radicalism in Modern Europe who was one of the organizers of Occupy Wall Street, joined us to discuss his latest book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook”. We examined the rise of white supremacy and neo-Nazism around the world following recent demonstrations in Warsaw, Poland and surveyed the history of anti-fascism from its origins to the present day. While critics say shutting down adversaries is anti-democratic, Antifa activists argue that the horrors of fascism must never be allowed to triumph again, especially with Donald Trump in the White House who is enacting his authoritarian tendencies at home while displaying affection and solidarity with despots abroad.

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Part 2

Then we go to a broadcast of Background Briefing from August 24, 2017 analyzing the emergence of the alt-right in Trump’s America with Henry Giroux, a world renowned educator, author and public intellectual who currently holds the McMaster University Professor for Scholarship in the Public Interest about his latest book, “The Public in Peril: Trump and the Menace of American Authoritarianism”. We discuss Trump’s alarming response to the recent disgrace of neo-Nazi’s descending on Thomas Jefferson’s home town and Jefferson’s warning that “an ignorant people cannot remain a free people” in the context of a failing education system and growing civic ignorance compounded by social media that has given rise to our Kardashian culture.

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