Here And There with Dave Marash

Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, AMLO for short, finally won the Presidency of Mexico on his 4th try, and he did it by an overwhelming majority vote.  He’s also got strong majorities in both houses of Congress to tackle his promises to reduce historic levels of crime and violence and uproot endemic corruption.  And Victoria Gaytan of the think tank Global Americans reminds us, AMLO also has to deal with Donald Trump, who has publically called him “a terrific person.” 

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Twelve Thai schoolboys, aged 11 to 16 and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave for more than a week before they were found alive, after which it took more than a week to bring them to safety.  It was, for its time, the biggest news story in the world.  What an event! What a media event! How did it affect politically divided Thailand and what happens next for the kids and their soccer coach?  Tassanee Vejpongsa, Bangkok-based reporter for the Associated Press has been covering the story

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The migration of mostly middle-class, often well-educated and skilled refugees from the war in Syria has stirred lots of hostility and conflict in Europe.  So why has an equally large migration of similar people fleeing the police state in Venezuela gone so much more smoothly across Latin America?  Could it be because Europeans cling to tribal identities while Latin Americans see themselves as a single community?   Demetrios Papademetriou of the Migration Policy Institute explains. 

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America has had it both ways…as a country filled with beavers to one where the busy aquatic rodents have been almost exterminated.  Finding a livable middle ground for beavers and human hasn’t been easy, but Ben Goldfarb, author of the new book, EAGER: THE SURPRISING SECRET LIFE OF BEAVERS AND WHY THEY MATTER says we’re getting there…and we’re setting examples of how to do beaver restoration that are changing Western Europe.  Find out how transformative beavers can be to our riverine environments.

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Do the facts matter anymore?  The crime rate in Germany is very low and the absorption of more than a million migrants since 2015 has hardly affected the economy.  But enough Germans have been listening to the nativist rants of outsiders like Donald Trump and insiders like Interior Minister Host Seehofer that they believe the opposite. This has put Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition government in danger.  Madeleine Schwartz of the NY Review of Books is based in Berlin and has been following the story. 

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First, Donald Trump threatened to pull the US out of NATO is member states didn’t fulfill their pledges to boost their defense spending.  But that’s just a squabble about money.  Now, he’s called into doubt America’s commitment to NATO’s collective security by questioning why the US should fight to defend Montenegro.  “They’re an aggressive people,” Trump says, adding that an aggressive Montenegro could start World War 3.  Montenegrins are insulted and bemused…NATO allies are worried.  USA Today White House correspondent David M Jackson helps to sort things out. 

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Jeffrey Wilson wanted a Wise Man’s view of today’s American political reality, so he conducted an interview with the scholar-activist Noam Chomsky; and he wanted to communicate what he learned to an audience that might never read Chomsky’s books.  So, he turned his interview and some reality-testing of it in a graphic novel-style book The Instinct for Cooperation.

The making of the book actually exemplifies its subject: the transformative effect of mutual aid as seen through the Occupy Wall Street action in New York and a Mexican-American Studies program in Arizona.

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Although there are still a few pockets of resistance in Syria, the Islamic State has largely been defeated, and its ability to be a base for large-scale terrorism has been sharply reduced.  But Brian Michael Jenkins of the RAND corporation says that has only re-shaped, not eliminated terrorist  threats.  So how should America adjust is strategies and tactics in the GWOT, Global War on Terror to pre-empt almost random, so-called “lone wolf” terrorism?

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The First Amendment could not be more clear.  It protects freedom of speech, personal and published, and freedoms of assembly and religion.  Now a 5-4 majority decision written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito extends First Amendment protections to outvoted minorities who won’t join and don’t want to pay into their workplace’s labor union.  Justice Elena Kagan’s dissent says this isn’t so much an extension as a dangerous corruption of First Amendment law. Noam Scheiber of the NY Times covered the Janus vs AFSCME case and talks with us about the story.

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