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January 10 2014

07:11

Week In The News: Polar Vortex, Christie’s ‘Bridge Gate’ And Al Qaeda In Iraq

Polar vortex. Chris Christie and “Bridge Gate.” Al Qaeda in Iraq. Dennis Rodman in North Korea. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie's second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn't endorse Christie for re-election. (AP)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie enters a news conference Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, at the Statehouse in Trenton, N.J. Christie has fired a top aide who engineered political payback against a town mayor, saying she lied. Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly is the latest casualty in a widening scandal that threatens to upend Christie’s second term and likely run for president in 2016. Documents show she arranged traffic jams to punish the mayor, who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. (AP)

Guests

Margaret Brennan, CBS News State Department correspondent. (@margbrennan)

Charles Babington, Associated Press Congressional and political reporter. (@cbabington)

Jack Beatty, On Point News analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: U.S. Leverage in Iraq Tested As Fears of Civil War Mount — “Iraq’s Shiite-led government paused on Wednesday on the brink of a military assault against al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants that posed the risk of exacting a high civilian toll and plunging the country deeper into sectarian conflict. Senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joseph Biden, have urged Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to secure the support of local Sunni leaders before attacking to drive the extremists from Fallujah, which sits in the heartland of Iraq’s Sunni minority. Many Sunni tribal leaders, alienated and angered by Mr. Maliki, have refused.”

WNYC: N.J. Gov. Christie Faces Traffic Jam Scandal — “Uncovered emails and text messages link Gov. Chris Christie’s administration to a scandal involving the closing of lanes leading to the country’s most traveled bridge. It snarled traffic for days. The emails add evidence to claims from state Democrats that the closure was political retribution for a mayor who did not endorse Christie for re-election.”

Washington Post: A Deep Dive Into the Polar Vortex — “The polar vortex is really just a large air mass that is extremely cold (temperatures fall below -78C, or -108F, during the Northern Hemisphere winter). This concentrated area of cold is encircled by a fast-flowing river of air called the polar night jet. Basically, the jet – with its swiftly moving air current – traps the vortex over and near the poles, north and south.”

January 07 2014

23:12

News On The Ground From Baghdad

It can be hard to find a reporter in Baghdad these days. Long gone are the days of the American-led war, when every important international news source had a well-staffed Baghdad bureau, filled with on the scene reporters, local fixers and translators.

So we were very fortunate to have Reuters’ Suadad Al-Salhyan experienced Iraqi reporter, join us during our Jan. 7 hour on the growing crisis in that country’s Anbar province. She gave us a clear-eyed view of the situation in Fallujah.

“We are facing different situations in Ramadi and Fallujah in whole at this time. We have jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), we have tribal fighters and and at Fallujah, we have a small group from other insurgents, like Ansar al Dine and other small groups. They were breaking into other small groups outside Anbar, but they joined the groups together in Fallujah.”

Al-Salhy also noted that it’s hard to tell just where many of these militant groups in Anbar came from — or if they spilled over from the ongoing conflict in neighboring Syria.

“We cannot say specifically, they just came a few days ago. This part has witnessed many operations and attacks during the last few weeks. ISIS was trying to build its own state on the ground this time by launching high profile attacks on the border towns which belong to Iraq. So we have no idea how many specifically, but we are talking about hundreds of high profile, well-trained militants who cross the border from Syria.”

That surge of militants has fully occupied the city of Fallujah, al-Salhy said.

“Fallujah is still under siege today. The central government kept sending forces to reign in the attacks in Anbar province. There’s fighting in Ramadi, and in Fallujah they’re expecting a big battle will erupt any minute. But there’s no fighting in Fallujah — and even the shelling that was launched by the Iraqi army into the northern part of Fallujah was stopped this morning, when the tribal leaders in Ramadi and Fallujah made a deal with the central government to try to convince the militants to leave the city. In return, the army has not been allowed to enter the city and attack the militants inside the city. There will be talks in the next few days. Right now, they are not planning on launching any attacks targeting Fallujah.”

Reports that some of the weapons used by the Iraqi government have come from Iran, traditionally an enemy, can’t be verified, al-Salhy said.

“We have no evidence that Iranians are involved. But we know that for sure, the Russians are involved for sure. They came out of purchases that Iraq made in the last year — helicopters, Russain helicopters are definitely taking part at this time and because of this it seems like Iraqi are making great progress in Anbar at this time.  Against ISI, they destroyed many big camps that Iraqi troops couldn’t reach since the US troops left Iraq.”

And although the fighting and armed conflict is a mere 40 miles away from the capital in Baghdad, the central government and the people who work for it in the city aren’t worried, al-Salhy said.

“To be honest, no [people in Baghdad are not worried]. Already, it’s as thought it was known and it was expected. Already in the last few months Al Qaeda was showing up every time and planning high profile attacks against the local government in Anbar, in Ramadi and Fallujah and the towns along the Iraqi-Syrian border. And everybody was expecting it was a matter of time, the government hadn’t done anything to treat it. So it wasn’t a big surprise when they took control over the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. They were just waiting for a suitable time to announce their control over these cities.”

During a chaotic and important time in Iraq, we’re grateful to reporters like Suadad Al-Salhy for helping to keep us and our listeners informed on what’s going on.

08:01

Bloody Iraq: Syrian Spillover, Regional Fear

Iraq in trouble again. Al Qaeda spillover from Syria, now in Fallujah, Ramadi, Anbar Province. We’ll look at Iraq’s return to turmoil and the threat of regional upheaval.

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

An empty street shows burned vehicles as buildings including a provincial government building, center in the background, are seen damaged in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. Provincial spokesman Dhari al-Rishawi said Iraqi security forces and allied tribesmen are pressing their campaign to rout al-Qaida from Fallujah and Ramadi, two main cities in the western Anbar province. (AP)

Guests

Suadad Alsalhy, Baghdad correspondent for Reuters. (@suadadalsalhy)

Ned Parker, independent foreign affairs reporter. Former Baghdad bureau chief for The Los Angeles Times. (@nedmparker1)

Roger Cohen, op-ed columnist for The New York Times. (@NYTimesCohen)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Scores Dead in Iraqi Battle With Al Qaeda-Linked Fighters – “The three days of fighting have left at least 21 people dead in Fallujah, including women and children, and an additional 11 dead in Ramadi, according to the Anbar Health Directorate. Many more have been injured. The assault on Fallujah, using helicopters, tanks and mortars, marks the government’s fourth attempt to retake the city since Thursday evening, when fighters loyal to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, seized most of the town, according to the security official.”

New York Times: Power Vacuum in Middle East Lifts Militants — “The bloodshed that has engulfed Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in the past two weeks exposes something new and destabilizing: the emergence of a post-American Middle East in which no broker has the power, or the will, to contain the region’s sectarian hatreds. Amid this vacuum, fanatical Islamists have flourished in both Iraq and Syria under the banner of Al Qaeda, as the two countries’ conflicts amplify each other and foster ever-deeper radicalism. Behind much of it is the bitter rivalry of two great oil powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia, whose rulers — claiming to represent Shiite and Sunni Islam, respectively — cynically deploy a sectarian agenda that makes almost any sort of accommodation a heresy.”

Foreign Affairs: The Iraq We Left Behind — “Both Maliki and his rivals are responsible for the slow slide toward chaos, prisoners of their own history under Saddam. Iraq today is divided between once-persecuted Shiite religious parties, such as Maliki’s Dawa Party, still hungry for revenge, and secular and Sunni parties that long for a less bloody version of Saddam’s Baath Party, with its nationalist ideology and intolerance of religious and ethnic politics. Meanwhile, the Kurds maneuver gingerly around the divisions in Baghdad. Their priority is to preserve their near autonomy in northern Iraq and ward off the resurrection of a powerful central government that could one day besiege their cities and bombard their villages, as Baghdad did throughout the twentieth century.”

January 03 2014

21:20

Snapchat and the Future of an Erasable Internet

Apps like Snapchat, Whisper and Telegram let you send photos and messages that erase themselves after they’re opened. Are they models for the future of the http://www.kcrw.com/news/programs/tp/tp140103snapchat_and_the_fut

December 21 2013

20:31

Spiritual rebellion from the elites - Stanley Kubrick

This interview is fascinating. It is an interview with Jay Weidener who is a renowned author, filmmaker and hermetic scholar. Considered to be a ‘modern-day Indiana Jones’ for his ongoing worldwide quests to find clues to mankind’s spiritual destiny via ancient societies and artifacts, his body of work offers great insight into the circumstances that have led to the current global crisis. He is the producer of the documentary films, 2012 The Odyssey, its sequel Timewave 2013, and director of http://projectavalon.net/forum4/showthread.php?20129-Spiritual-rebellion-from-the-elites-Stanley-Kubrick

December 16 2013

12:42

In Syria, Rebel Movement Continues To Fracture

Has the moderate, Western-backed rebel force collapsed in Syria? And what if it’s an Islamist rebellion now?

Guests

Noah Bonsey, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group. Lead author of the recent report, “Anything But Politics: The State of Syria’s Political Opposition.” (@NoahBonsey)

Leila Hilal, director the Middle East Task Force at the New American Foundation. (@LeilaHilal)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Daily Telegraph: The good guys have lost in Syria – only the bad guys are left fighting — “This week, the US and Britain suspended non-lethal aid – such as communications equipment and trucks – to rebels in northern Syria, after bases belonging to the largely moderate, Western-backed Free Syrian Army were ransacked and their equipment seized by the Islamic Front. This rebel-on-rebel fratricidal orgy sums up so much that has gone wrong with Syria’s revolution.”

The Washington Post: U.S. may be open to Islamists joining Syrian rebel coalition — “The SMC, whose Free Syrian Army is the only opposition armed force the United States backs in Syria, has lost both strength and influence to anti-Assad Islamic groups. Among them is the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the al-Nusra Front, both of which have been labeled terrorist groups by Washington. But the increasingly powerful Islamic Front, while it includes many Salafists seeking an Islamic state in Syria, is not affiliated with al-Qaeda. Talks between U.S. envoy Robert Ford and Islamic Front figures held in Turkey last month were inconclusive, said the senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the developing policy.”

Buzzfeed: The End of the Free Syrian Army? – “FSA officials have suggested that the struggle with the Islamic Front might be resolved through negotiations, and that U.S. shipments might eventually resume. But speculation is already swirling that the FSA and its leadership under Gen. Salim Idriss — officially called the Supreme Military Command, or SMC, the political opposition’s military wing — might be at its end. One source close to the SMC called the Islamic Front’s recent aggression in Atimeh ‘an attack and overthrow, basically.’”

September 09 2013

21:32

Sep 9, 2013 — Heather Hurlburt & Daniel Drezner

July 20 2013

01:00

Jul 19, 2013 — Daniel Drezner & Heather Hurlburt

January 11 2012

21:45

After the Fire: Shaping the US Relationship with Iraq

Panelists include (reflects speaking order): Thomas E. Ricks Senior Fellow, Center for a New American Security Dr. John A. Nagl President, Center for a New American Security General John (Jack) Keane, USA (Ret.) Senior Managing Director and Co-founder, Keane Advisors, LLC George Packer Staff Writer, The New Yorker Nazar Janabi Next Generation Fellow, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy Ambassador Samir Sumaida'ie Ambassador of Iraq to the United States of America.

September 21 2010

13:21

The Wikipedia entry on the Iraq War in 12 handy bound volumes

US forces in Iraq were part of a firefight in the city of Fallujah on Thursday. At least six Iraqis were killed. It was not known precisely what role the American troops were playing in the situation. Even though President Obama declared the end of combat missions, the history of the Iraq War is still being written. And it is being written, every day, on Wikipedia. The Iraq War entry on that site is massive, thousands of edits over the years. Still, the only thing most people see is the most recent version. James Bridle is a writer, editor, and publisher in London. He gathered together all the Wikipedia material related to the war from 2004 to 2009 and made a 12 volume set of hard bound books. We talk to James Bridle about war, the memory of the internet, and how to make an accurate accounting on a site that’s always changing. Also in this show, we talk to Anders Wright about Halo Reach. http://futuretense.publicradio.org/episode/index.php?id=1135975206

August 26 2010

23:38

Week in the News

Home sales plunge. Mass murder in Mexico. Top Republicans says, “I’m gay.” Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

August 10 2010

23:35

Andrew Bacevich: America’s Militarism

Retired Army colonel and big thinker Andrew Bacevich on why it’s time to throw out the playbook on American military policy.

August 03 2010

04:45

Exiting Iraq: Reflections

President Obama lays out plans to withdraw combat units from Iraq at the end of the month. We get a boots-on-the-ground perspective.

June 17 2010

14:00

Vets Struggling for Brain Injury Care

NPR’s Daniel Zwerdling and ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller on the traumatic brain injuries still not being treated in thousands of returning vets.
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