Here And There with Dave Marash (general)

The first place Russian use of fake news to manipulate foreign populations was uncovered was in Ukraine.  Todd Helmus of the RAND Corporation led a study team to detail what the Russian trolls were doing and how they did it.  He’ll tell us what his team found, and how they did that.  Ukraine, of course was only the beginning, interfering in the 2016 American Presidential election was the main event, but the Russian digital intrusions kept on coming, in the Brexit vote, and in national elections in France, Germany and Italy.  

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For 9 of the past 11 years, the University of New Mexico’s Athletic Department overspent its budget by millions of dollars.  And now it’s revealed UNM is out of compliance with Title IX because women aren’t getting an equal share of finding or participation in UNM athletics.  What went wrong and how did the University’s Presidents and Regents let it happen, and did the fact that a lot of university fund-raising has been kept secret from the public made problems worse?   Investigative reported Daniel Libit of the websitenmfishbowl.com has been first on this story, and give us an update. 

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “zero tolerance” policy on immigration across America’s southern border was designed to have consequences.  But new statistics uncovered by Reuters reporter Mica Rosenberg show the effect of prosecuting every border-crosser is separating migrant families in enormous numbers.  How enormous?  Before zero tolerance families were separated at a rate of about 100 a month.  But – in the only numbers ICE has made public – in 2 weeks in May 638 families were broken apart.  And reuniting them after deportation is not easy nor always quick.

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Turkey seems to have won a stare-down with the United States in Northern Syria.  The US has agreed to make Kurdish troops, our best allies in the fight against the Islamic State, leave the Syrian city of Manbij.  Now Turkey has announced it has an active incursion inside Iraq, whose government is also our ally, and Iran and Hezbullah are threatening US interests  elsewhere in Syria.  Pultizer Prize winning reporter Roy Gutman explains what’s going on. 

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You can't win a war without winning some battles, but even winning a whole string of battles does not mean  you've won the war.  Take for example, the American-led war to, in President Trump's word, "annihilate" the Islamic State.  In city after city, allied air attacks married to on-the-ground fighting by Iraqi and Syrian forces have forced IS to retreat from Ramadi, Tikrit, Falluja, Mosul and Raqqa.  Why isn't the war over?  As former US intelligence officer David Eneboe puts it in the title of his new book IT'S THE IDEOLOGY that has not been defeated.  Ending the scourge of Islamism is what it's all about.  

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Investigative reporter Simon Boazman has just broadcast a documentary, Islamophobia, Inc on Al Jazeera English.  The thesis: the sharp rise in hate crimes against American Muslims has been encouraged by a well-financed, well-organized conspiracy of hatred.  A hidden group of funders, at least some of them familiar donors of “dark money” to right-wing causes underwrite and distribute remarkably repetitive messages to a potential audience of millions.  Overblown invocations of “jihad” and “Sharia law” stoke fears.

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18 years ago, there was essentially one Taliban-approved source of news in Afghanistan.  Today, Afghan news consumers support hundreds of radio, tv, print and online news options.  Ilias Alami of the Afghan Journalists Safety Committee on how newspeople work together to survive.  Says Alami, in Afghanistan, all reporters are war reporters, like it or not.  But he notes, there are many other stories that demand coverage as well.

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If our National Parks are looking a little run down, it’s because there is an $11 billion backlog of undone maintenance on everything from roads and guard-rails to rest rooms. Elizabeth Miller of the Santa Fe Reporter, Backpacker and The Guardian USA on the Trump Administration’s plan to pay for repairs with money raised by leasing out more public lands, including National park lands for energy development.  Could National Parks maintenance be paid for out of general tax revenues?  Of course, but that’s not the White House’s choice.

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The pension fund for Colorado’s state employees is running short of money.  2 reasons are consistent underfunding by the legislature and below average returns on pension fund investments.  But investigative reporter David Sirota tells us, “reforming” the fund involves penalizing retirees and protecting lawmakers and money managers.  Pensioners will see cost of living adjustments cut and contributions raised, while money managers get to keep their veil of secrecy from public evaluation of their work. 

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Donald Trump keeps saying he wants to be Vladimir Putin’s friend, but Trump’s renunciation of the nuclear arms agreement with Iran won’t help the relationship, and neither will Israeli attacks on Iranian forces fighting on Russia’s side in Syria.  Scholar-analyst Stephen F. Cohen of NYU and Princeton and The Nation on why the US and Russia aren’t getting along.  Cohen says one reason is the US News Media and its addiction to stories that put Putin in a bad light. 

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