We begin with Trump’s promise to “look into” a report on his nominee for drug czar after a Washington Post/60 Minutes expose revealed that Congressman Tom Marino pushed legislation that hobbled the DEA in combatting the opioid crisis by preventing their enforcement efforts against big drug companies and distributers who manufacture and peddle Oxycoten and similar drugs that have killed close to 200,000 Americans. The editor of The Journal of Drug Policy Analysis, Mark Kleiman, a Professor of Public Policy in the Crime and Justice Program at the Marin Institute for Urban Management at NYU and author of “When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment”, joins us to discuss the legislation championed by Marino and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who received $200,000 in campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies, that prevented the DEA from seizing suspicious shipments of pills to rogue pharmacies and corrupt doctors. We will also assess what President Trump might offer in terms of solutions when next week he is expected to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency.

Then we get an analysis of the results of the Austrian elections which indicate a major shift to the right inflamed by an Islamophobic and anti-immigrant campaign by the handsome 31 year-old Sebastian Kurz, the leader of the People’s Party which captured 31% of the vote and is likely to form a coalition with the right wing Freedom Party founded by former Nazis. Christian Schueller, Senior Editor in the magazine and documentary department of the Austrian TV network ORF, joins us to discuss the rise of anti-immigrant populism and nationalism across Western and Eastern Europe.

Then finally we examine the fate of the Kurds in Northern Iraq who are surrounded by enemies Turkey, Iran and now the government in Baghdad which just seized oil-rich Kirkuk, the cash cow of Iraqi Kurdistan. Henri Barkeya Professor of International Relations at Lehigh University who was a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, joins us to discuss how a more engaged U.S. President and State Department might have prevented the Kurds from going ahead with a referendum on independence which has backfired, spreading more instability and possibly provoking conflict across the region.

Background Briefing

Trump's New Drug Czar Hobbled the DEA

The Rise of the Right in Austria

The Kurdish Independence Referendum Has Backfired Dangerously

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We will begin with President Trump’s threat to go after NBC’s FCC license because he does not like the news that they are reporting about his own Secretary of State calling him a moron and now revelations that Trump called for the U.S. nuclear arsenal to be increased tenfold. An historian of science who specializes in the history of nuclear weapons and nuclear secrecy, Alex Wellerstein, Professor of Science and Technology Studies at the Stevens Institute of Technology, joins us to discuss how different Trump is from previous presidents who upon learning of the power they have at their fingertips to destroy the world, felt the weight of enormous responsibility that came with their stewardship of the nuclear arsenal. But unlike his predecessors who found it a sobering burden, Trump sees nukes as instruments of power to be used, as he has said cavalierly, “otherwise why do we have them?”, and will also look into the sobering truth is that there is nothing stopping Trump from unleashing America’s arsenal of 7,100 nuclear weapons if he feels like it.

Then we speak with Norman Ornstein, a contributing editor to The Atlantic and the co-author of a new book, just out, “One Nation After Trump: A Guide for the Perplexed, the Disillusioned, the Desperate, and the Not-Yet Deported”. We discuss how Trump is both a threat to our democracy and a product of its weaknesses and look ahead to the challenges we face in fixing our broken democracy so that we don’t have more Trump’s elected by a minority via the reactionary Electoral College.  And because of demographic changes underway from the depopulation of rural Red States and the concentration of populations in urban areas, in a few decades 60% of the U.S. Senate will be elected by 40% of the American population.

Then finally we examine the growing tensions between the U.S. and Turkey as Turkey’s authoritarian leader becomes more and more unhinged with his government-controlled press demonizing America to the point where the U.S. is blamed for everything including earthquakes. A former senior advisor and foreign affairs expert to the State Department during the administrations of Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama, David Phillips, joins us to discuss how the U.S. and Turkey are on a collision course because of a trial in New York that will expose Erdogan and his family’s massive corruption.

Background Briefing

Why Trump Should Not Have Our Nuclear Arsenal At His Fingertips

Trump is Both a Threat to Our Democracy and a Product of Its Weaknesses

Erdogan Inflames Tensions Between the US and Turkey

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We speak first with Steve Andreasen, who was director for defense policy and arms control on the National Security Council and is currently a national security consultant at the Nuclear Threat Initiative and teaches at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. He joins us to discuss his article at The New York Times “Is Trump Scheming to Kill the Iran Deal?” and assess whether the adults in the room, Generals Mattis and McMaster and Secretary of State Tillerson got rolled by the hardliners like Bannon who have Trump’s ear. Although the adults were able to get Trump to certify that Iran was sticking to the P5+1 agreement for now, the price they paid was to have Bannon put in charge of a group of ideologues who will look for a way to de-certify Iran within the next 90 days to find a pretext to resume sanctions and open the way for military action.

Then we examine further the likelihood of Trump starting a war with Iran and speak with Dr. Trita Parsi, the co-founder and president of the National Iranian American Council and author of “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy”. He joins us to discuss his article at Alternet “This October, Trump Will Try to Start a War With Iran: Trump plans to sabotage the nuclear deal” and explain how Saudi Arabia’s ruling family wants to fight Iran to the last American soldier and what a gift it would be to the hardline mullahs and Revolutionary Guards to have the “great Satan” go to war against Iran.

Then finally we look into why Trump is imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s new dictator Maduro for killing democracy via a phony referendum while praising Erdogan for his recent electoral coup as Turkey’s wannabe dictator rolls back democracy and jails thousands of political opponents. Max Hoffman, the Associate Director for National Security and international Policy at the Center for American Progress where his research focusses on Turkey and the Kurdish regions, joins us to discuss Erdogan’s show trials underway and the reshuffling of the top brass of Turkey’s military.

Background Briefing

Trump's Scheme to Kill the Iran Deal

Will Trump Try to Start a War With Iran in October?

Erdogan's Show Trials

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We begin with growing tensions in the standoff between Qatar and its neighbors led by Saudi Arabia who issued an unrealistically harsh and humiliating set of demands to the tiny Gulf state under an ultimatum that has since past, and now they are dismissing Qatar’s response to their list of demands as the crisis deepens. Marwan Kraidy, the Anthony Shadid Chair of Global Media, Politics and Culture and Director for Advanced Research in Global Communications of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, joins us. An expert on the Arab media, we discuss how much Egypt’s and Saudi Arabia’s demand to shut down Qatar-based Al Jazeera is at the heart of this dispute provoked by Saudi Arabia’s belligerent young Crown Prince who appears to have bitten off more than he can chew in Yemen and is now threatening war or at least regime change in Qatar.

Then we assess the extent to which Donald Trump’s visit to Poland is based on his aversion to protests which are being planned in Hamburg and London, and his susceptibility to enticements by the authoritarian right wing Polish leader whose Law and Justice government will bus in adoring fans of Trump from the countryside to what they have promised the White House will be “a great patriotic picnic”. A former senior advisor with the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, Charles Gati, a Senior Research Professor of European and Eurasian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies, joins us to look into what seems more like a mutually beneficial photo-op than a diplomatic engagement, particularly since Trump has refused to meet with anyone from Poland’s opposition.

Then finally we examine the looming crisis following North Korea’s long-range missile test which has essentially called Trump’s bluff since he had warned that a test of a North Korean missile that could reach the U.S. “is not going to happen”. Now that it has happened, we will speak with a former State Department Senior Analyst, Stephen Noerper, Senior Director of the Korea Society, an associate of the Weatherhead Institute and Pacific Forum, and a professor at Columbia University. He joins us to discuss this crisis that, in the absence of diplomacy, could lead to devastating military consequences and civilian casualties.

Background Briefing

The Qatar Standoff Is All About Shutting Down Al Jazeera

Poland's Authoritarian Leader Lures Trump For Photo-Op

North Korean Missile Test Calls Trump's Bluff

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We begin with the possibility that Donald Trump has compromised a vital intelligence operation against the Islamic State and speak with a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent who investigated and supervised highly sensitive international terrorism cases such as the East Africa embassy bombings by Al Qaeda and their attack on the USS Cole. Ali Soufan joins us to discuss how painstakingly difficult it is to penetrate terrorist groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS compared to how easy it is to blow an operation as apparently Trump has done, and his latest book, “Anatomy of Terror: From the Death of bin Laden to the Rise of the Islamic State”, which is a compelling and definitive account of how and why bin Laden’s ideology keeps rising from the dead with his son Hamza now poised to take over the growing organization that his father founded.

Then we look into today’s White House meeting between President Trump and President Erdogan of Turkey that was bound to end in disappointment for Erdogan who is demanding the extradition of the cleric he blames for the coup against him, Gulen, and that the U.S. cut ties with the Syrian Kurds, who are the only fighting force the Pentagon can count on to defeat ISIS and take their Syrian capitol Raqqa. Max Hoffman, a Policy Analyst on National Security and International Policy at the Center for American Progress who focuses on Turkey and the Kurdish regions, joins us to discuss Trump’s business ties in Turkey and why the U.S. president was almost alone in congratulating Erdogan’s power grab in narrowly winning the recent disputed referendum.

Then finally we speak with Joshua Landis,the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma who writes “Syria Comment” a daily newsletter and blog on Syrian politics. He joins us to discuss a comparison that the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. has made between the Assad regime and the Nazis, following the revelation that a crematorium has been installed in a Syrian prison to dispose of the bodies of the thousands of Syrians the regime systematically murders.

 

Background Briefing

Terror Groups Are Hard to Penetrate But Penetrations Are Easily Blown as Trump Has Demonstrated

The Doomed Meeting Between Trump and Erdogan

The US Compares the Assad Regime to the Nazis

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We will begin with the production line killings being carried out by the state of Arkansas with eight men scheduled to be put to death in 11 days because suppliers of drugs used for lethal injections will only allow their products to be used for medically approved purposes so the state’s executioners, who are short on supply, had to drive to an undisclosed location to make a drug deal with an unnamed dealer who made no record of the sale.  The President of Death Penalty Focus, Mike Farrell, a political and social activist best known for his roles in MASH and Providence, joins us to discuss the unseemly rush to kill which resulted in Justice Gorsuch casting his first vote on the Supreme Court to put a likely innocent man to death even though Ledell Lee in mentally incapacitated, DNA evidence was never tested, his defense was grossly incompetent and the judge who sentenced him was having an affair with the prosecutor.

Then we will go to Istanbul, Turkey to speak with Ronald Suny an historian at the University of Michigan and a professor emeritus of political science and history at the University of Chicago. The author of “They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else: A History of the Armenian Genocide”, he joins us to discuss the local reaction to the 102nd anniversary of the Armenian genocide and how the educated and urban half of Turkey who voted against President Erdogan’s recent power grab feel about Donald Trump’s endorsement of their new dictator.

Then finally we will speak with the Turkish scholar who is considered the Sherlock Holmes of the Armenian genocide. Taner Akcam, who holds the chair of Armenian Genocide Studies at Clark University and is the author of “The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity” joins us to discuss how he found documentation, the “smoking gun” that proves the genocide against the Armenians that the Turkish government persists in denying, took place.

Background Briefing

Arkansas' Assembly Line Executions

A Report From Turkey on the 102nd Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide

The Turkish Scholar Known as the Sherlock Holmes of the Armenian Genocide

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We begin with the fraud-ridden and rigged referendum in Turkey that the Europeans and half of the Turkish population are disputing, but nevertheless, the President of the United States gave it his blessing and called Turkey’s new dictator Erdogan to congratulate him on his “victory”. Turkish-born Asli Bali, the Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies and a professor of law at the UCLA School of Law, joins us. We will discuss the possibility that Trump is either acting out of ignorance, amateurism or cynicism in undercutting the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe who have disputed the vote and complained about the un-level playing field, and the educated and urban half of Turkey who are now under the thumb of a repressive and illegitimate regime bent on further eroding their democratic rights, the freedom of the press and Turkey’s secular traditions.

Then on this last day to file income tax returns, we will look into Donald Trump’s continuing refusal to release his taxes as he and House Speaker Paul Ryan prepares a “tax reform” package that will benefit billionaires, hurt the poor, con the middle class and blow up the deficit. Edward Kleinbard, a Professor of Law at the University of Southern California who served as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation, joins us to discuss the Democrat’s demand that Trump reveal his taxes before the tax code is overhauled with changes that will further enrich Trump and his family.

Then we will get an update on the special election in Georgia where the Democrats are pinning their hopes on an upset victory in a Republican district which could be seen as an early rejection of the Trump administration before its first one hundred days. Andra Gillespie, a professor of Political Science at Emory University who worked as an analyst for Democratic pollster Mark Mellman, joins us to discuss the results that require 50% plus one vote for an outright win by Jon Ossoff the Democratic challenger, otherwise there will be a June 20 runoff that could favor the Republicans.

Background Briefing

Trump Praises a Dictator on Stealing an Election

Show Us Your Taxes Before So-Called "Tax Reform"

Results in Georgia's Special Election

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We begin with Donald Trump’s recent discovery that dropping bombs and threatening war distracts the public and the press from the inquiries into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians and the many questions yet to be answered about Trump and his team’s financial ties to oligarchs close to Putin. Scott Horton, a professor at Columbia Law School and a contributing editor at Harpers in legal affairs and national security, joins us to analyze the latest explosive revelations from the former British MP Louise Mensch who claims intelligence sources say that Carter Page went to Moscow with a videotape of Donald Trump offering Putin a change in U.S. policy to Russia in exchange for his help in hacking our election.  We will investigate this and other claims that General Flynn was compromised by the Russians and coordinated with Putin to have fake news created by the Russian state fed into the campaign to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Trump.

Then we will get a further analysis of the narrow victory in Sunday’s referendum in Turkey with European election monitors questioning the legitimacy of the results while the winner, Turkey’s new dictator-for-life President Erdogan, admonishes them imperiously with “Know Your Place”.  Nicholas Danforth, a senior policy analyst for the national security program at the Bipartisan Policy Center joins us to discuss his new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center “Dark Cloud of Illegitimacy Hovers Over Turkey Vote” and Trump’s call congratulating Erdogan which undercuts the European case against Erdogan.

Then finally we will examine alternatives to the collision course the U.S. is on with North Korea as its regime warns that thermonuclear war could break out at any minute. Adam Mount, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who is the project director at the Council on Foreign Relations independent task force chaired by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen and former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, joins us to discuss their new report “A Sharper Choice on North Korea: Engaging China for a Stable Northeast Asia”.

Background Briefing

Explosive Revelations of Trump's Collusion With Putin

Trump Congratulates Erdogan on His Illegitimate Victory

Alternative to the Collision Course We Are on With North Korea

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We will begin with North Korea’s failure to launch a missile in conjunction with the “Day of the Sun” celebrations commemorating the birth of Kim Il Sung. We will look into speculation that the U.S. has a covert program to sabotage North Korea’s missile and nuclear program and speak with John Pike, one of the world’s leading experts on defense, space and intelligence policy. He is the Director of GlobalSecurity.org and previously worked for more than two decades with the Federation of American Scientists where he directed the Space Policy, Military Analysis, Nuclear Resource and Intelligence Resource projects. He joins us to discuss whether the U.S. has managed to insert a kind of “Stuxnet” malware into the North Korean’s missile and nuclear program or if Kim Jong Un is simply pushing the envelope too hard in a rush to get a long range missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

Then we will get an analysis of an apparent shift underway in the White House with the adults in the room beginning to take over as Donald Trump seems to have recognized the need to govern and that ideologues like Stephen Bannon offer little in that regard beyond heated rhetoric. Andrew Nathan, a Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and the author of “China’s Transition: the Tiananmen Papers”, joins us to discuss the Trump Administration’s tilt towards China and whether that means Trump has given up on working with Putin and reneged on whatever covert deal they might have had.

Then finally we will get an update on the referendum in Turkey where from early returns, it appears the Turks have voted away democracy in favor of dictatorship. Henri Barkey, the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, who served as a member of the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, joins us to discuss President Erdogan’s the new powers that will enable his megalomaniacal vision of himself as Turkey’s new Sultan who can now rule until 2029.

Background Briefing

Did the US Sabotage a North Korean Missile Launch?

Trump Tilts to China and Away From Russia

Erdogan's Narrow Win in a Rigged Referendum

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We begin with the role of Trump’s friend Rudy Giuliani, who was apparently behind the infamous Comey letter that Hillary Clinton blames for her loss, and examine his latest and sleaziest machination as he now lobbies for the release of Reza Zarrah, Iran’s biggest sanction-buster, to help out Turkey’s dictator Erdogan who is implicated in profiting from the Turkish/Iranian businessman’s racket of selling gold to the Iranians on phony invoices for food and medicine that generated $11 billion in profits. David Phillips, the Director of the Peace-building and Rights Program at Columbia University and author of “An Uncertain Ally: Turkey Under Erdogan’s Dictatorship”, joins us to discuss how Giuliani and his partner former Attorney General Mukasey are trying to get Trump, who fired the U.S. Attorney prosecuting Zarrah, to replace Preet Bharara with Mukasey’s son Marc, so that he would be in charge of the prosecution of the man his father is trying to get out of jail.

Then we will speak with Bartlett Naylor, the financial policy advocate for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch who served as chief of investigations for the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. He joins us to discuss the investigation by Wells Fargo Bank that led to its announcement that it would claw back $75 million in severance it paid to two senior executives, former CEO John Stumpf and community bank head Carrie Tolstedt, who presided over the fake accounts scandal where Wells Fargo customers were ending up with an average of six accounts per household whether they wanted them or not.

Then finally we will go to Wichita, Kansas and speak with Neal Allen, a professor of political science at Wichita State University to get an update on the special congressional election taking place today to fill the seat left by Mike Pompeo who Trump appointed to head up the CIA. With the polls having closed 40 minutes ago, we will look into whether this solidly Republican district could be a bellwether for a Democratic resurgence as resistance to the Trump Administration grows.

Background Briefing

Rudy Giuliani in the Pay of the Biggest Trader With the Enemy

Docking $75 MiIlion From Payouts to Top Level Wells Fargo Executives

A Bellwether Special Election in Kansas

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We begin with escalating threats from Turkey’s President Erdogan against the Dutch government he accuses of Nazism as he cuts off high level diplomatic contacts and threatens to flood Europe with Syrian refugees in camps in Turkey. Michael Werz, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress’s National Security Team who specializes in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora in Germany and Holland, joins us to discuss the worsening quarrel with Europe that Turkey’s autocratic leader appears to using cynically to fire up Turkish nationalism and anti-European sentiments ahead of a referendum in Turkey on April 16 aimed at giving Erdogan even more power to stifle the press, purge the military, judiciary and academia and create more problems for Turkey and its neighbors which ironically is the exact opposite of Erdogan’s promise when he first came to power.

Then we examine the Congressional Budget Office’s finding that Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act designed to repeal and replace Obama’s Affordable Care Act, will increase the number of Americans without healthcare coverage by 24 million, making a liar our of President Trump who repeatedly promised that the Republican alternative would provide universal coverage at lower prices. Dr. John Geyman, a professor emeritus of family medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine whose new book is “Crisis in Healthcare: Corporate Power Versus the Common Good”, joins us to discuss how “Ryancare” could be such a disaster for the American people and the GOP that it might make single payer healthcare a realistic option in the future.

Then finally we look into the reasons behind Trump’s firing of Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and his rumored replacement Marc Mukasey, who happens to be former Fox News head Roger Ailes’s personal lawyer. Craig Harrington, a researcher at Media Matters who edited the new article at Media Matters,“U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was Investigating Fox News When Trump Fired Him”, joins us to discuss an impending cover-up of an epidemic of sexual harassment at Fox News.

Background Briefing

Erdogan Stirs Up Turkish Nationalism Ahead of April Referendum

Could the "Ryancare" Disaster Lead to Single Payer?

Trump Appoints New US Attorney to Cover-Up Fox News Sex Scandals

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We begin with the poisoning of a Kremlin critic for the second time and the kangaroo court conviction of Alexei Navalny on trumped-up charges that bars him from running for president next year against Vladimir Putin. Joining us is Russia expert, Kathryn Stoner, the Director of International Policy Studies and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and the Center for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University. We discuss the new bill, The Russia Sanctions Review Act of 2017, introduced today by a bipartisan group of six senators designed to prevent President Trump from easing sanctions on Russia without congressional approval and assess why Trump continues a conciliatory approach to Russia and doggedly refuses to criticize Putin while a cloud of suspicion about Trump’s legitimacy hangs over him and his presidency because of the intelligence Community’s findings that Putin interfered in our recent election to help elect Trump.

Then with the announcement that White House will be providing press credentials to the Washington Bureau Chief for Alex Jones’ Infowars conspiracy website, we will  look into the extent to which Donald Trump is informed by Alex Jones whose disgusting false assertions are echoed faithfully and repeatedly by Trump. Arthur Goldwag, the author of “Isms & Ologies, Cults, Conspiracies & Secret Societies” and “The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right”, joins us to discuss how every recent crazy statement Trump has made from 5 million illegal voters, terrorist incidents deliberately ignored by the press and protesters being paid, to the crime rate being the highest in 47 years, all come from the fevered fantasies of Alex Jones. Not to mention the Obama birther conspiracy, the 9/11 truther conspiracy and the thousands of imaginary Muslims in New Jersey celebrating 9/11.

Then finally we discuss the two red lines that Turkey’s president laid down in last night’s conversation with President Trump, demanding that the U.S. cut ties with the Kurds, America’s “boots on the ground” and most capable fighters taking on the Islamic State, as well as an insistence that the U.S. hand over Fethullah Gulen, a U.S. resident living in exile in Pennsylvania. An expert on Syria, Nicholas Heras, a Middle East Researcher at the Center for a New American Security, joins us to discuss this and the report by Amnesty International “Human Slaughterhouse” that documents how the Assad regime murdered 13,000 of its citizens in secret prisons.

Background Briefing

Senate Acts to Prevent Trump From Easing Russian Sanctions

Trump Faithfully and Repeatedly Echos Alex Jones

Will Trump Give Into Turkey's New Red Lines?

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We will begin with the stealth attempt by House Republicans to get rid of the Office of Congressional Ethics as their first priority that backfired, igniting a firestorm of protest which prompted Donald Trump to tweet out a message to them to back down in the name of draining the swamp, which they did. Noah Bookbinder, the Executive Director of CREW, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, joins us to discuss the about face reversal of a secret vote of 119 to 74 by House Republicans to strip the independent Office of Congressional Ethics of its powers on day one of the new Congress that was quickly dropped from the rules package of measures the next day due to public outcry which allowed Donald Trump to take credit while House Republicans ended up looking corrupt and weak.  

 

Then we will explore the irony that President Erdogan’s lslamist government in Turkey encourages religious and nationalist hatemongers while jailing a prominent journalist for predicting weeks ago that Islamists might target New Year celebrations. Natana DeLong-Bas, a Professor of Theology at Boston College who researches modern and contemporary Islamic thought and practice, joins us to discuss whether Erdogan is trying to create his own Islamic State in Turkey while the terrorists of the Islamic State in Syria that he previously enabled, are now attacking him for turning on them and allying with Russia.

 

Then finally we will speak with Daniel Rodgers, Professor Emeritus of History at Princeton University whose recent book “Age of Fracture” won the 2012 Bancroft Prize. He has an article at The Guardian “Liberals Risk Becoming a Permanent Minority in America” and we will discuss how anger overrode optimism in the recent election and the need for liberals to find new means of talking truth to Americans and making sure they hear them, while a populist billionaire spins fairy tales and trickle-down fantasies about freeing up the billionaires to make America great again. 

Background Briefing

House Republicans Target Ethics on Day One

Is Erdogan Trying to Make His Own Islamic State in Turkey?

How Liberals Can Make a Comeback

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We will begin with the New Year’s massacre in Turkey which the Islamic State has taken credit for and assess the exploding blowback to President Erdogan’s misrule across a broad front of issues, not just his earlier support for Islamic State fighters and their entry into Syria, but his resumption of a war against the Kurds, his wholesale purging of teachers, lawyers and judges, and more recently his uncritical embrace of Russia which calls into question Turkey’s membership in NATO. David Phillips, the Director of the Peace-building and Rights Program at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University and author of “The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East” joins us to discuss what it will take for the people of Turkey to wake up to what a dangerous and destructive autocrat they have in Erdogan. As he dismantles democracy, ruins the economy and divides the country between its secular traditions and a resurgent Islamic fundamentalism of the ruling AKP Party, the irony becomes clear that Erdogan and the AKP are increasingly similar in outlook and ideology to the Islamic State terrorists who are just beginning to strike at their former patron.

 

Then, with the editor of the Wall Street Journal saying that in their coverage of the new Trump Administration, they will not call Trump’s lies, lies, we will explore what the role of the press is likely to be in covering Trump since so far he has written his own rules which the press has dutifully followed, as well as not demanding his tax returns, not getting him to do press conferences, and all the while giving Trump $5 billion’s worth of free media. John Nichols, The Nation magazine’s Washington correspondent and author of “People Get Ready: The Fight Against a Jobless Economy and a Citizenless Democracy” joins us to discuss what can be done to expose the real Donald Trump and whether he is in any way up to the job of president when the press has so far been unable to lay a glove on him while our political opposition appears unwilling to question Trump’s legitimacy let alone his competence to be president.    

Background Briefing

Erdogan: Turkey's One-Man Wrecking Crew

Pulling Back the Curtain to Expose the Real Donald Trump

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We will begin with the sanctions imposed today by President Obama against Russia over its efforts to influence the recent election which U.S. intelligence agencies believe were directed by President Putin to hurt Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. Nina Khrushcheva, a Professor in the Graduate Program of International Affairs at The New School and author of “The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey Into the Gulag of the Russian Mind”, joins us to discuss the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats in response to harassment of American diplomats in Russia and the closing of Russian “recreational” compounds in Maryland and New York used for signals intelligence. We will also discuss the broader question of whether sanctions against Putin work, since earlier sanctions over Crimea have served as an excuse for Putin’s mismanagement and looting of the Russian economy.

 

Then we will speak with Diane Winston, who holds the Knight Chair in Media and Religion at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism and is the publisher of Religion Dispatches. She joins us to discuss Donald Trump’s choice of the prosperity gospel televangelist Paula White to offer readings and give the invocation at his upcoming inauguration. She was a target of Senator Grassley’s 2007 congressional investigation into the spending habits of Pastor White on church-owned private jets and luxury homes and we will explore the similarities between political magical thinking that a billionaire president will make average folks wealthier and Paula White’s promise to her followers that if they give her money, it will make them richer.

 

Then finally we will look into the latest ceasefire in Syria brokered by Russia and Turkey that already is showing signs of not getting off the ground and speak with James Gelvin, a Professor of History at UCLA and author of “The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know”. He joins us to discuss what “winning” the war in Syria will mean for the Assad family and what the bill will be for Assad’s Russian and Iranian backers in making a devastated country habitable again, assuming the cycle of atrocity and vengeance ends.

Background Briefing

Obama Sanctions Russian Diplomats and Spies

The Blonde Prosperity Gospel Televangelist Who Will Bless Trump's Inauguration

What "Winning" the War in Syria Will Mean

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We will begin with the second terrorist attack in Europe where a big-rig truck was used as a weapon of mass destruction, this time plowing into shoppers at a Christmas market in Berlin. Thomas Berger, Professor of International Relations at Boston University who specializes in German politics, joins us to discuss how already the leader of the far right Alternative for Germany party has labeled the victims of an attack that the Islamic State is taking credit for, “Merkel’s dead”, indicating how explosive a political issue it will be if the perpetrator turns out to be a refugee from the Middle East. We will also examine how right wing parties across Europe are stoking anti-immigrant xenophobia which plays into the hands of the Islamic State who want to drive a wedge between refugees and Muslims in Europe and the populations of the host countries.

 

Then we will look into why Trump’s new national security advisor General Michael Flynn met recently with the head of Austria’s anti-immigrant Freedom Party which was founded by former Nazis. Daniel Serwer, Professor and Director of the Conflict Management Program and Senior Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, joins us to discuss the capture of U.S. national security and strategy by conspiracy theorists, ethnic nationalists and anti-Semites who are the top close advisors of a president-elect who is an anti-immigration bigot who ran on a platform of ethnic cleansing of Mexicans and Muslim immigrants.

 

Then finally we will examine the announcement today in Moscow by the foreign ministers of Russia, Turkey and Iran that they are ready to act as guarantors in a peace deal between the Syrian government and the opposition. Henri Barkey, the Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars joins us to discuss the growing anti-American and pro-Russian rhetoric coming from Erdogan’s government that prompted Secretary of State Kerry to raise concerns about allegations of American involvement in the assassination of the Russian Ambassador which Erdogan blames on Fethullah Gulen, the exiled cleric living in the United States.   

Background Briefing

Germany's Right Blame Merkel For Terrorist Act

US National Security In the Hands of Conspiracy Theorists and Ethnic Nationalists

Russia, Turkey and Iran Announce a Peace Deal for Syria

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We will begin with the assassination of Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey at the hands of an off-duty Turkish policeman who shouted “don’t forget Aleppo” and “Allahu Akbar” as he opened fire. Aaron Stein, a Resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Center for the Middle East whose research interests include U.S.-Turkey relations, Turkish foreign policy and the Syrian conflict, joins us. We will discuss whether there is a disconnect between President Erdogan’s policy of stirring up anti-Americanism while cozying up to Russia, and how the Turkish people feel about Russian atrocities in Aleppo and Syria that are straining Turkish resources on the border as more and more Syrian refugees pour into Turkey to escape the Russian/Iranian/Assad offensive to capture Aleppo and the rest of rebel-controlled Syria.

 

Then we will speak with a veteran former CIA officer Mel Goodman, about Donald Trump’s continuing denial of Russian involvement in helping him win the election, now that it is the consensus of the Intelligence Community that Putin did indeed intend to hurt Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. We will discuss whether Trump, who has trashed the CIA and refuses to take daily briefings, will continue on this collision course and reject the findings of a report on Russian hacking that Obama has ordered released before his term ends and Trump is inaugurated.

 

Then finally, with today’s The New York Times report finding that there was next to no voter fraud in the recent election, we will speak with David Jefferson, a computer scientist in the Center for Applied Scientific Computing who sits on the boards of the California Voter Foundation and Verified Voting. He was among the experts who conducted the recount in Wisconsin and was poised to do so in Pennsylvania and Michigan before the Trump campaign sued to stop the recount. We will discuss whether the issue is settled and what remains to be done to secure voting systems in America. 

Background Briefing

The Assassination of Russia's Ambassador to Turkey

Trump's Collision Course with the CIA

An Expert Who Conducted the Recount in Wisconsin on Whether the Issue is Settled

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Hammer Forum
Turkey’s Future: Democracy or Autocracy?

Cosponsored by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies Turkey’s recent failed military coup and President Erdogan’s subsequent crackdown have […]Read more »


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We begin with the question of whether Donald Trump is the so-called Manchurian Candidate”, a fictional Cold War book and twice a movie of an American patriot who becomes President of the United States all the while under the control of America’s Communist enemies. With growing concerns expressed by the ranking members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, Senator Feinstein and Congressman Adam Schiff, warning “Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian Intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election”, we speak with Karen Dawisha, a Professor of Political Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and author of Putin’s Kleptocracy: Who Own Russia?”  We look into questions that are beginning to surface about the extent to which Putin is not just orchestrating the SVR and GRU’s efforts to manipulate the outcome of the election, but also has ties to Trump that go beyond alleged covert financing of Trump’s enterprises and  seem to indicate Trump is owned by Putin, who is rumored to have compromising video of Trump with very young women ensnared in a so-called “honey trap” by the FSB when Trump was in Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

Then we examine further the Trump-as-the- “Manchurian Candidate” scenario with Roger Morris who served on the National Security Council under both presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and is the author of the forthcoming comparative history of the inner politics of the U.S. and the USSR, “Kindred Rivals: America, Russia and their Failed Ideals”. We look into research he has uncovered from former KGB Generals and other Kremlin insiders that the Trump operation has been underway for years and that within the ranks of Russian Intelligence, there is some dissent about Putin’s increasingly brazen efforts to undermine the U.S. election by in effect, declaring war on American democracy.

Then finally, Daphne Matziaraki joins us in the studio. She just graduated from U.C. Berkeley’s Documentary Program at the Graduate School of Journalism and her latest film is “4.1 Miles”, a searing documentary filmed in the 4.1 miles of the Aegean Sea between Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos that shows the trauma the already traumatized Syrian and Afghan refugees endure as they make the harrowing journey, packed into unseaworthy boats that often capsize. The film is in the running for an Academy Award and any sentient person who sees it, can no longer be indifferent to the humanitarian catastrophes underway in the Middle East and the human suffering caused by the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Background Briefing

Sounding the Alarm on Russian Intelligence's Interference in the US Election

Is Trump the Manchurian Candidate?

The Filmmaker of the Searing Documentary "4.1 Miles"

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